Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Retired Brigadier General Mohamed Buba Marwa has directed all commands and formations of the Agency to begin an immediate clampdown on illegal sale and use of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas following its abuse by people who use it for recreational purposes.
Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas that is commonly used for sedation and pain relief, more often by dentists and medical professionals to sedate patients undergoing minor medical procedures.
Popularly called laughing gas or ₦20, it is fast emerging as a drug in demand in Nigeria by young party-goers or fun-seekers to feel intoxicated or high. The gas is often transferred from its containers into balloons, from where its inhaled for euphoric effects.
The NDLEA in a statement on Tuesday 11th July said the decision to clampdown on those involved in illegal sale and use of nitrous oxide, follows analysis of the effects on those who abuse the substance, which include: dizziness; disorientation, headache; light headedness; fainting spells; hallucinations; falling unconscious and/or suffocating from lack of oxygen; and other neurological complications especially psychiatric symptoms.
The Agency said pending when other measures are taken in consultation with other stakeholders especially the Federal Ministry of Health, to curb the menace, it will not hesitate to wield the big stick against anyone, no matter their social status, involved in illegal sale or use of nitrous oxide in the overall interest of public health.
It urges parents, guardians and other stakeholders to be vigilant, alert and warn their young ones against attempting experimenting or abusing the substance, which poses threats to their mental and overall wellbeing.
Views exclusive rights: Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Tuesday 11th July 2023.