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The deadly rise of 'hippy crack': For celebrities, it's the party drug du jour. Now inhaling laughing gas – is spreading to middle-class living rooms

By July 17, 2012 January 2nd, 2020 No Comments

Her eyes shining with  anticipation, the young woman holds a balloon to her lips. For all the world, it looks as if she’s about to perform a children’s party trick.

Yet a quick examination of her surroundings (an expensive London nightclub) and her appearance (glossy hair, designer heels) tells you that this is far from a  children’s party.affordable dental implants london

Indeed, the young woman is something of a celebrity — Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan. And far from performing a trick, she is indulging in a fashionable — and potentially fatal — drug craze: inhaling nitrous oxide, the ‘legal high’ du jour.

Cheap, seemingly harmless and guaranteeing a night of raucous laughter, so-called ‘hippy crack’ is increasingly popular with celebrities and their well-heeled young fans alike. Even Prince Harry was seen indulging two years ago.

There is just one problem: nitrous oxide is no more legal than it is innocuous. Despite being touted openly at music  festivals and in bars and nightclubs across the country, sale of the gas for recreational use is very much against the law.dental implants cost london

As for being innocuous, that is only true if one ignores the alarming side-effects it can cause: strokes, hallucinations,  seizures, blackouts, incontinence, stress on the heart, chronic depression and even — in cases of prolonged use — depleted bone marrow. Few would tack the word ‘harmless’ on to such a list. Now anti-drugs campaigners are calling for more to be done to tackle the trend. Not that their voices are being heard, swamped as they are by those of the enthusiasts. In the past month alone, several minor — yet influential — celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon.

As well as Keegan, James Argent and Maria Fowler, stars of The Only Way Is Essex, have been pictured with a balloon between their lips.

They are among tens of thousands of young people who have dabbled with the drug. And, as it sells at the bargain price of £1.50 per balloon, many indulge in it every weekend.

Nitrous oxide — also known as laughing gas, N2O and sweet air — gives users an intense euphoria which some have likened to the effects of heroin and crack cocaine.cheap dental implants london Aficionados insist this is a huge exaggeration, and maintain that it is far less harmful than other illegal drugs — indeed vastly preferable to alcohol, as the effect recedes in minutes and there is no hangover.

Ask the experts, however, and they tell a very different story. When inhaled, nitrous oxide dissolves in the bloodstream, depleting the blood of oxygen and reducing its flow to the brain and other vital organs. An overdose can be fatal. best implant dentist london

Stephen Ream, director of  substance abuse charity Re-Solv, is unequivocal: ‘Every year, people die in this country from taking nitrous oxide. You never hear about that when people are selling it in nightclubs or at festivals, and I shouldn’t imagine most of the users even realise it’s illegal. It’s almost the acceptable face of drug abuse.

‘Young people see celebrities taking it and they think it must be OK, but they should be looking at Demi Moore and what happened to her.’ best cosmetic dentist london Unlike the British C-listers associated with the drug, Moore is a bona-fide star, and her experience is very much a cautionary tale.

Earlier this year, in the throes of a difficult separation from her  husband, Ashton Kutcher, the actress reportedly binged on nitrous oxide to the extent that she suffered a seizure and had to be taken to hospital. She then checked into a rehabilitation clinic.

Yet little was reported about the drug — it was lost in the controversy about Moore’s romantic  travails and alarming weight loss.

Small wonder, then, that the army of young enthusiasts marches on undeterred. On the whole, these are not your average drug users. Nitrous oxide’s harmless reputation is attracting large numbers of middle-class youths who otherwise would never dream of touching drugs.

Ruby Deevoy was one such teenager when she first encountered the gas….affordable cosmetic dentistry london .. ‘They showed festival-goers how to use it. You had to take it from a balloon, never direct from the  dispenser, or you could freeze your lungs. I absolutely loved it and from then on I did it whenever I could.’

The initial effect, Ruby says, was one of unalloyed pleasure. That weekend at the festival, however, overindulgence led her to suffer severe hallucinations.

‘At the beginning, everything kind of goes a bit clouded and all you can feel is the bassline of the music,’ says Ruby. ‘Then suddenly you burst out laughing and just keep on laughing. It is a really nice feeling, there’s no denying that, but if I’d thought it was illegal I’d never have done it.

‘I must admit I was hallucinating quite badly by the end of my first weekend taking laughing gas…The reality, however, is that while she did not commit any offence in taking it, those who sold her the gas categorically did, as it’s illegal to sell it for recreational purposes.

Those caught selling it without a licence can be jailed for up to two years. But few are convicted, due in part to the difficulty of proving the ‘recreational purposes’ aspect.

Nick Spears of the Medicines and Healthcare  Products Regulatory Agency, says: ‘The gas is commonly used on dental patients and for women in labour, but you don’t go to the dentist every Friday night and you don’t give birth every Saturday…Read more

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