Paddy Gower Has Issues: Doctor's alarming warning after woman unable to walk for months from using NOS

The popular recreational drug nangs or laughing gas is causing some users serious spinal damage, with one woman turning up to Auckland Hospital a quadriplegic after just one session.  

And a government crackdown could be on the way.   

Nitrous Oxide, NOS, or laughing gas, are sold in these whipping cream cannisters -  legally for baking.  

But with boxes full of them flying across the counter at dairies, vape shops and even online, it's not cakes on the menu - It's a quick high.   

Nangs are considered the safest drug to use, according to a major study out of Otago University.  

They are lower even than kava, and alcohol is at the top, with the most harm.   

Students for Sensible Drug Policy Dunedin's Lachlan Akers said a sensible approach to drug harm is needed.   

"Nitrous oxide is the lowest drug on the New Zealand drug harm index," Akers said.  

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But when people take too much, too many days in a row - or have a B12 deficiency - things can get serious.   

Dr Shilpan Patel has seen an increase in young people turning up to the hospital, unable to walk.  

He's had nine patients admitted to Auckland Hospital already this year. Dr Patel said one patient suffered spinal cord damage from using nangs which left her unable to walk for months.  

"What we found that was really concerning was that we had people presenting with spinal cord damage who were using (hundreds of nangs per day) and others who are using very little," he said.   

"Actually, the worst affected person in our study was only used a single session of nangs once in their life, but they had risk factors for a B12 deficiency that they didn't know about. And so even though they didn't use much nitrous oxide, they still had significant damage from it.  

"That particular person was quadriplegic, meaning they couldn't move all four of their limbs after they used nangs once. And then on follow up nine months later, they were finally able to walk with a lower walking frame."   

In the UK they're making them illegal - against the advice of their health experts. Here in New Zealand MedSafe is indicating it too will start tightening the laws around the sale and use of nangs.   

"MedSafe is actively looking at whether mechanisms in the Medicines Act can be used to further restrict the retail supply of these products," it said in a statement.   

But Akers said that would do more harm than good.   

"If they [MedSafe] were to ban them, people would move to riskier inhalants and other drugs. New Zealand should be legalising nangs and regulating them in a safer way."  

Watch the full story tonight on Paddy Gower Has Issues on Three or ThreeNow..