With influencers on Instagram, parent meetings and a flyer, the municipality wants to fight laughing gas use among young people.
Mayor Femke Halsema and alderman Simone Kukenheim (Healthcare) write this in a letter to the city council. The reason for this is the results of the report by the Coordination Point for Assessment and Monitoring of New Drugs (CAM), which conducted a risk assessment of nitrous oxide on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS).
Headache, dizziness and tingling
This shows that it is not easy to indicate a limit below which recreational nitrous oxide use would be safe. “One in three users report acute unwanted effects such as headache, dizziness and tingling in the hands and feet. These users indicate that they have used five to ten balloons. “
Laughing gas is widely used for this, by different population groups. ‘Young and inexperienced users and people with a low vitamin B12 level, such as vegetarians, are more sensitive to harmful effects. There has also been an increase in the use of large amounts of nitrous oxide. That seems to be related to the availability of cylinders of the drug. ‘
Nitrous oxide use in traffic
The risk of using laughing gas in traffic is high, according to the report, because the responsiveness decreases. It is estimated that the number of traffic incidents where suspected laughing gas was at stake increased to one thousand in the first half of 2019. “Balloon handling in the car can also divert attention from traffic.”
Influencers on Instagram
Reason for the city council to take extra measures, such as deploying influencers with a good reach among the groups of young people where frequent, risky use is relatively common. The municipality expects the online intervention to go online in November. “The objective is to promote a realistic awareness of the risks and to improve the early search for help.”
In the coming school year, the municipality wants to organize fifteen parent meetings in West, New West and Southeast in collaboration with Jellinek. The idea is that parents recognize laughing gas use at an early stage and they are given tips on how to discuss this with their child. A flyer is also being developed for professionals who work a lot with young people, such as teachers, police officers, care coordinators and youth workers.
Figures from the OLVG and the Reade rehabilitation center show that significantly more people were treated for neurological complaints after laughing gas use in the past year than in the previous year. In 2018, four patients in the OLVG were treated with neurological complaints after laughing gas use; in 2019 this was 28 patients. The complaints of eight of them were so serious that they were referred to rehabilitation clinics. These are young adults, the average age is around 20.
The government is now working on a law to prohibit recreational nitrous oxide use. State Secretary Blokhuis said today in the House of Representatives that this law could go into effect next year. However, it is not yet certain whether the law will be passed, the VVD is not yet sure whether it wants to support the law.