Silver bullets ‘are out there and it’s in your face’ says TD
THE ISSUE with nitrous oxide canister misuse has not gone away and in recent weeks, there has been a noticeable increase in the expended ‘silver bullets’ found on the streets.
On the streets, the nitrous oxide canisters are known as silver or purple bullets, hippy crack and laughing gas among other things and are very easily accessible on the black market.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a stark increase in the numbers of young people inhaling the gas contained within the canisters.
On a clean-up of Butler McGee Park by St Mark’s GAA Club and Marks Celtic FC, hundreds of these canisters were found within close proximity of the clubs.
Meanwhile, in a video taken at Sundale Shopping Centre in Jobstown on the same weekend, 11 boxes of cream chargers – nitrous oxide canisters – which usually contain 10 or 24 canisters, could be seen scattered all along the ground.
Sinn Fein TD, Seán Crowe, who is Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, attended the clean-up of Butler McGee Park on September 4.
“This issue is still prevailing right around, everywhere you go you can see these canisters scattered on the ground,” he told The Echo.
“The problem is the availability, they are quite easy to get online and shipped into the country – they are supposed to be used in the catering industry.
“It’s out there and it’s in your face, young people are using them and they need to know the dangers because it is a very serious issue.
“The key messages are what are the dangers and how can it impact you?
“They are in every community in Ireland right across the board, not just in poor areas or traditional low-income areas.
“They are dangerous and having an impact on young people’s health, really they can kill you in creating pockets in your lungs and can lead to you collapsing.
“Look they might seem harmless but they are a gateway and can lead to different things.
“Many are going down that road, you could be the unlucky one and it’s a road to nowhere.
“It starts at home, I would be encouraging parents and family members to talk to younger people about using these nitrous oxide canisters to try understand the dangers.”
The HSE have recently issued advice for parents through drugs.ie which encourages open communication around drug use and the commonly associated dangers.
While long and short term risks associated with nitrous oxide misuse are still being established, it is known that heavy frequent use and large doses create more of a risk.
If inhaled directly from a canister and not a balloon, it can cause damage to the throat and impact breathing or if mixed with other substances it can be more dangerous.
The gas is usually inhaled by discharging it from a canister into a balloon, creating a brief “high” for the user.
Just recently, Revenue officers seized 9600 canisters of nitrous oxide at the Dublin Mail Centre.
Cream chargers, which are listed on a global online department store, come with a warning that the product is “not for sale to persons under the age of 18”.
They are shipped internationally and arrive in the country through the mail, where they are sorted and home delivered at the Dublin Mail Centre.
Just recently in the UK, Home Secretary of the British Parliament Priti Patel spoke of how she was ready to “take tough action” on the widespread use of the nitrous oxide canisters.
She ordered experts to review its effects in a move that could potentially criminalise possession of the nitrous oxide canisters.