Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is used in hospitals and dental surgeries to relax patients. But it is also being misused as a recreational drug, especially among young people. Partygoers buy nang canister or “whipped cream chargers” to inhale the nitrous oxide inside, which produces a 20-second high. It’s a concern for doctors, who warn that prolonged use can lead to disabling neurological sequelae.
What is a nang?
A nang canister is a small, metal cylinder filled with nitrous oxide gas. It’s usually packaged in a “cracker” that’s made to pierce the seal and break open the canister. This cracking process is designed to release the nitrous oxide into a balloon, which can then be inhaled by users.
Nangs are popular among young people, especially at festivals and music events. But they’re not always used in the right way. They’re a dangerous drug, and one that can kill in the wrong hands.
In Australia, the number of nang users has increased significantly over the last six months, according to a global drug survey. They’re also becoming more common in Perth, despite warnings from health officials about their risks to young people.
There are dozens of Perth suppliers who offer delivery to all suburbs, 24 hours a day. They’re as easy to get as ordering a pizza – but they’re potentially deadly in the wrong hands.
The nangs are made of stainless steel and come in eight-gram cylinders. They’re similar to CO2 soda bulbs, but they’re filled with food-grade nitrous oxide, which is a lot less dangerous than the carbon dioxide in soda.
Nangs are filled with nitrous oxide
When you inhale nangs, you experience a brief and intense high. You may find yourself laughing loudly and even giggling, though this is not always a positive thing if you are already ill or have medical conditions.
As a result of the risk of overdose, nangs have been banned from many festivals, and a public health campaign is being run to educate people on how dangerous they are. In Australia, there have been two recorded deaths linked to the use of nangs in the last five years.
Nangs are a drug
A nang canister contains nitrous oxide, which is also known as laughing gas. It is a colourless, non-flammable, sweet-smelling gas used in a range of medical and dental procedures. It is also commonly used in hospitality to aerate food such as whipped cream.
The word ‘nangs’ comes from the Australian slang name for the small canisters of nitrous oxide gas often used at house parties or music festivals. It is a narcotic, and when inhaled causes an intense euphoric high that lasts for a short time.
Typically, people will consume several nangs in one sitting. Users will experience a short, euphoric high and then return to normal functioning within minutes. However, prolonged use of nangs can have severe long-term effects including memory loss, vitamin B12 depletion, brain and nerve damage and psychosis.
As well as being a narcotic, nangs are also highly damaging to the environment. Amie from Green Chief Recycling explains that 500kg to a tonne of spent nangs end up in landfill after each music festival.
It is important to remember that nangs are not recyclable. Nang canisters are made from galvanised steel, meaning they can last for 50 to 75 years and will have a negative impact on the environment. As such, they should not be discarded. Rather, they should be recycled or composted.
Nangs are a medical device
Often referred to as ‘cream chargers’, nang canisters contain nitrous oxide. The gas is used by dentists and medical professionals to sedate patients during minor procedures. It also works well as a food additive to aerate whipped cream.
Nangs are legal and can be bought at convenience stores across Australia. They are most commonly found in whipped cream dispensers but also in other forms such as balloons and other small plastic containers. They are a popular drug amongst young people, particularly 20-somethings.
The nang is a drug that causes a high and euphoria, but it can also cause serious harm to the user’s health. Some side effects include numbness, spasms, memory loss, ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating and breathing difficulties.
Doctors are worried that a sudden increase in the use of nangs is causing harm to young people and has led to increased numbers presenting with neurological damage. The situation is causing doctors to call for tighter rules around nang supply on a state level. They’re also worried about the impact nangs have on the environment, with empty canisters littering dance floors at music festivals.
Nangs are a recreational drug
Nangs are a popular recreational drug used by young people during summer parties. They are cheap and readily available at corner stores, and are often cited as the drug of choice at Schoolies Week.
These small canisters contain nitrous oxide (N2O), which is commonly known as laughing gas. It is also used as an anaesthetic in dentistry and is given to women during labour. It delivers a brief, euphoric high and can make users feel relaxed and dizzy.
But despite its usefulness, doctors warn that misuse of nangs can cause serious health problems and lead to addiction. A recent case in New Zealand illustrates this.
A female student in her 20s is currently unable to walk after bingeing on nangs, and doctors have warned that her future may be bleak if she does not get treatment. In the worst-case scenario, she may never recover from the spinal cord damage that her abuse of nangs caused.
Laughing gas is a common propellant for whipped cream in restaurants and cafés, but it can be dangerous when used as a recreational drug.