Taiwan’s medical community is calling on the government to impose stricter controls on laughing gas. That’s as teenagers continue to suffer permanent physical damage caused by the gas.
Over the past six years, nine teenagers have been diagnosed with nerve degeneration after inhaling laughing gas.
One of these teenagers, a 17-year-old, now needs assistance to walk. Doctors from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said this is one effect of laughing gas. The hospital has seen several similar cases in recent years.
Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is a colorless chemical compound with a slightly sweet taste. It gives users a sense of euphoria, but its misuse carries serious medical risks.
While the medical use of laughing gas is regulated, industrial use of the gas is not. As a result, laughing gas is readily available for recreational use.
The gas accounts for 24% of substance abuse cases among teenagers in Taiwan. A study has shown that around 4,300 young people in Taiwan have inhaled laughing gas.
Doctors say young people try laughing gas out of curiosity, unaware of the risks involved. Misuse of the gas can lead to memory loss, weak limbs, depression, and incontinence. It can even put users in a vegetative state or lead to death.
Doctors say the government must strengthen regulations on laughing gas to protect Taiwan’s young people.