Be alert to your teen’s addiction to ‘laughing gas’ spray

recently gained interest among adolescent students

The spray is sometimes used to fill up balloons - Cardiff Student Media

DUBAI 9 April 2017: The Ministry of Health and Prevention has issued a circular warning about the dangers of misusing ethyl chloride spray, which has recently gained interest among adolescent students who have been purchasing it from various social networking sites, e-commerce websites, private pharmacies and specialty stores.

The circular states that the substance is a local anaesthetic that affects the central nervous system when inhaled.

Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s Public Policy and Licensing Sector, confirmed that the ministry has issued the circular after monitoring the widespread use of ethyl chloride spray among adolescents.

He explained that youths, who call it laughing gas, inhale the compound after spraying it on a piece of cloth, resulting in bouts of laughter or crying followed by hallucinations. He added that the product is not criminalised, low in cost compared to other categories of drug and easily available, leading to numerous cases of addiction among school and university students.

Mobilised Measures

Dr. Al Amiri further added that the ministry has raised awareness about the substance and mobilised its team to take procedural and precautionary measures in co-ordination with concerned authorities to contain its use.

He said that the ministry has communicated with the Ministry of Education, the Abu Dhabi Education Council, ADEC, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai, KHDA, the Anti-Narcotics Federal General Directorate at the Ministry of Interior and various police departments to investigate and report seized cases, monitor and analyse captured substances, and provide preventive measures to protect children from these dangerous products.

He noted that ethyl chloride spray is used medically to prevent pain caused by injections and minor surgical procedures, provide temporary relief from minor sports injuries and help relieve deep muscle pain when used with muscle spasm techniques.

Ethyl chloride is a typical anaesthetic that belongs to a group of pharmaceutical compounds that block the neurotransmitters and paralyse skeletal and respiratory muscles when inhaled. It also causes paralysis of the nerves that feed the blood vessels, relaxing the smooth muscles in the vessel walls.

Dr. Al Amiri said that the ministry has warned against inhaling these substances and has issued a circular to detect and stop misleading practices among young people between the ages of 12 and 16 as it can lead to serious complications, including hospitalisation.

All pharmacies are advised to not sell these products to anyone under 18 years old. In case of any side effects, please fill out the ADR Side Effects Form, available at http://www.cpd-pharma.ae, or contact the ministry by telephone (02-3201448), fax (02-3201947) or e-mail (pv@moh.gov.ae).

 – By Rajive Singh