By Blessing Enenaite
A professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof Taiwo Shiekh, has proffered ways the government can tackle the abuse of nitrous oxide, popularly known as ‘laughing gas,’ by some youths in recent times.
In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, he also spoke on the dangers of this substance and the assumed ‘benefits’ of its intake which are actually deceitful.
He said, “Nitrous oxide is one of those substances that people abuse. It is a very toxic gas but the reason people abuse it more is because of its effect on the brain. It alters one’s emotions, thoughts, and how one sees the world.
“It deceives one and makes one feel what is not evident. It makes one feel like one does not have many problems. Besides, it calms the user and it gives a sense of tranquility, which is actually artificial.
“Also, it makes people laugh when they use it. It is not because of the laughing per se. It is because of the psyching effects that people derive from it. It is a dangerous trend that distorts one’s liver and causes brain damage. It can even cause bleeding in the brain before it finally takes one’s life.”
Speaking on the ways the government can tackle the situation and the tendency to get the drug banned, he noted it is not something that can be banned legally.
“It is a regulated substance. It is not something someone simply buys on the street causally. Some people are buying it illegally.
“In this regard, the government, civil society groups, student and teachers groups, and non-governmental organisations, have to educate people openly on the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide, and how it affects the users.
“Majority of the people who use it are youths. This means that it is putting our future at stake. That is why it is everyone’s responsibility, not just the government, to campaign against the use of nitrous oxide. Anything that threatens the future generation is a big problem.”