The nightmare for any responsible parent is to discover that their teenager has moved into the drug scene. The signs were probably increasingly there though, as their amazing son or daughter became surly, moody, disrespectful, defiant, tired, uncaring, dress & appearance oblivious (or the opposite), and spent uncommunicative hours in their room. Activities, hobbies, pastimes, sports, music lessons and the like get dropped. Nice previous friends get ditched to be replaced by new undesirables & troublemakers. The subterfuges, the lies, the misrepresentations, are finally and unexpectedly discovered and exposed – not through a honest admission however, but through an error by the new druggie.
In Britain the most likely so called ‘recreational drug’ they are taking these days is hippy crack [laughing gas, nitrous oxide, N2O] – up to half a million users nowadays. It is called hippy crack because it is popular at rave type does & nightclubs, and like crack cocaine gives a short high and users get hooked if not dependent; it is now second only to cannabis in use amongst the young; it is readily available, very cheap & pseudo-legal – but not if sold to under the 18s; it is packaged in small canisters and the gas injected into a balloon for the user to inhale from.
Parents get gob smacked when this happens, and feel their child has let themselves down big time. Their teenager was the last in the world that they had expected to be a drug taker. They thought their teenager had their feet firmly & sensibly on the ground and had the guts, determination and ability to make something fantastic out of their life. Instead they had wanted to get membership of the idiot crowd, get high & hallucinate on hippy crack, befriend the criminal scum who sell it, and mix with the rift raft that take it. Not only does their judgment stink, but it exposes a worrying psychological weakness – at their age wanting to deliberately short circuit their brain function and knowingly risk their health is incomprehensible. Respect is lost, hurt is caused and trust destroyed.
So what are the main things to know about this drug? Firstly, laughing gas is used medically as a pain reliever at the dentist (an anxiolytic to get the patient high), but there it is in a ‘pure form’ and is mixed with Oxygen in a facemask. Secondly, the commercially available product isn’t pure so contains other chemicals. Thirdly, inhaling the gas fills the lungs with the N2O gas, meaning there is no Oxygen going in, and Oxygen is required by the lungs of course. Lack of Oxygen causes asphyxiation and users can pass-out which is part of the so called buzz. Oxygen deprivation for any length of time causes permanent brain damage, and in severe cases causes death when the user makes a mistake (like using in a confined space or overdose so there is no Oxygen available to the brain. Fourthly, there are multiple other negative side effects of inhaling including medical problems such as brain lesions, reproductive issues in women and risks of experiencing strokes, blackouts, incontinence, chronic depression, headaches, and stress on the heart – apart from the dizziness, vertigo, and possible auditory and physical hallucinations (long term excessive use has been associated with anaemia, incontinence, depleted bone marrow and numbness in fingers and toes). Fifthly, it produces a kind of addiction because eager users keep going back to it.
It is commonly recognised that teens on drugs will simply lie about what they have been up to (or will get up to), which means it is all pretty well impossible for parents to really control – making use more difficult by disrupting matters is often all that can be achieved.
Talking, begging, pleading, crying, scolding, threatening, removal of privileges and special things, will frequently fail to make any impression, unfortunately.
Parents possibly have to take a step back and try to work out what is going on with their youngster, and why a drug has come into play. Is it to fit in with the gang? Is it an anxiety issue? Is it a reaction to not being competitively the best person and finding another way of being top dog or in control? ? Is it simply escapism? Is it attention seeking at school or in the group? Is it straight boredom, with not enough life excitement? Is the background of some of the group, one that thinks that using drugs is normal?
Parents are dealing with a very worrying issue here, but nevertheless need to keep matters in perspective in dealing with such things. Their teenager is not the first youngster to step out of line, though that excuses nothing. The big risk is that this situation is the top of a slippery slope where their life will be put at risk or blighted (as will the parents’) by future drug abuse.
The other worrying, if not disgusting, aspect of all this is the way that our society deals with such drug issues. There can be little excuse for having allowed hippy crack use to get out of control, and to start now to dominate the drug scene. Oh yes, possessing and inhaling nitrous oxide is currently legal, but supplying it to others to inhale is supposed to be blocked by the Medicines Act. You see, nitrous oxide CAN be used for other legitimate purposes and that is used by the criminal suppliers to drive a coach & horses through the law designed to prevent misuse.
The big dealers in laughing gas provide it through massive online sales operations with home delivery within the hour & no questions asked. It is sold under the guise of being a gas for use by the over 18s in catering to produce ‘whipped cream’. The amount of gas being sold is enormous and the amount of whipped cream it would actually produce if used for that purpose, is astronomical. Despite the low prices the dealers are reaping-in their fortune through moving volume sales. Why don’t our authorities step in and put a stop to that? It is their duty to protect our young vulnerable people surely? We don’t even need new laws, we don’t need massive police raids, we don’t need widespread customs searches, we don’t need snatch squads, we don’t need to infiltrate gangs, we don’t need street patrols, we don’t need to catch street dealing, we don’t need chemical analysis, we don’t need sniffer dogs, we don’t need heat seeking helicopters.
No, we just have to simply shut down & put out of business these ruthless distributers who falsely & blatantly pretend to providing a catering product, but are actually & actively drug dealing in a medically controlled product. That would be a significant start, wouldn’t it? Then other measures could then be enacted to put an even wider stop to this wicked trade – like seizing the gas cylinders used to fill balloons in streets & clubs (they are difficult to hide you see) and prosecuting the sellers for offering the medically controlled gas for inhalation.
The problem is that we let these things get out-of-hand before the authorities take control & effective action. That is exactly what has happened in the current situation with nitrous oxide, which is precisely why there has been predictabe explosive growth in its use. The same happened with the widespread craze of glue sniffing thirty years ago, which took-off because of the similar cheapness, availability and ease of distribution – new laws had to be put in place across the land to halt the phenomenon. Central governments only seem to act with political programmes when there is overwhelming pressure from parental desires.
We all recognise that the genie was let out of the bottle regarding the dreadful drug ‘alcohol’ and can never be put back in. We shut the stable door after the horse had bolted on the killer drug tobacco (nicotine), but we are trying to round it up these days and expect to succeed. We need to take strong action now on ‘hippy crack’.
[OTHER COMMON DRUGS OF ABUSE: – Acid/LSD Alcohol Club Drugs (MDMA, Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine) Cocaine Heroin Inhalants (solvents, gases, nitrates) Laughing Gas Magic Mushrooms Marijuana MDMA/ecstasy Methamphetamine Nicotine PCP Phencyclidine Prescription Medication Steroids]