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Legal highs being used by children in Bexley
LEGAL highs that pose a serious health danger are being used by children in Bexley, News Shopper can exclusively reveal.
Canisters containing nitrous oxide, which are designed for making whipped cream, are reportedly being inhaled by kids as young as 11 to starve their brains of oxygen for "a buzz".
Bexley police says it has been carrying out patrols following reports of substance misuse by youngsters in Northumberland Heath and warning parents of the dangers.
A spokesman said: "The local neighbourhood team is aware that some young people are using nitrous oxide. They are carrying out routine patrols and when they identify individuals who are using it they will speak with their parents."
But because the substance is legal, nothing can be done by either the police or Bexley Council’s trading standards team to prevent its sale.
Concerned parent Rebecca Adams has set up the Facebook group, Solvent Abuse Awareness, to campaign about the risks of legal highs.
The mother-of-three has found dozens of the canisters scattered in an alleyway between Bexley Road and Hurst Road in Northumberland Heath.
Mrs Adams, of Horsa Road, Northumberland Heath, said: "I know an 11-year-old has tried it. They are just getting younger and younger.
"Because shops are selling it they think it's ok. Police knocked on our door to let us know this is going on."
Mrs Adams, who says her son has not tried the substance, told News Shopper: "Peer pressure is a big worry, especially if the older kids are going to buy them and sell them to the younger ones.
"It's not campaigned about enough to let them know how dangerous it is and what it can do to you."
The 34-year-old added: "Other parents need to know that it is rife in the area.
"I just don't want there to be a death and nothing has been done about it.
"It's a worry when you have teenage kids.
"Someone will definitely die. I want parents to speak to their children and find out as much as possible about what it can do to them."
The risks of using nitrous oxide
Bexley GP and chairman of the Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group Chair, Dr Howard Stoate said: "Legal doesn’t mean it’s safe. There is increasing evidence to show that legal drugs contain harmful and illegal substances.
"Many of these substances are harmful to your health because you don’t know what’s in them, and may lead to a number of potential mental and health related risks such as cardiovascular disease, liver failure, respiratory disease and even brain damage."
Harry Shapiro from DrugScope, a centre of expertise on drugs and drug use, said: "There are two main problems with nitrous oxide.
"The first thing is, because it’s a gas under pressure there’s a risk, if people are inhaling this for long enough, they quite literally could suffocate.
"The other thing is, it’s kind of an anesthetic so when you use it you kind of lose control. You could easily have an accident."
Reporter told how to inhale nitrous oxide
NOT for human consumption - that is the warning in capital letters below a long list of safety warnings about nitrous oxide - or Nos - on the Skunkworks website.
But when News Shopper went incognito to the smoking paraphernalia store in Avenue Road, Bexleyheath, the shop assistant willingly sold us the gas for it to be inhaled to get high.
"That’ll be the best two minutes of your life," he said, handing over a box of 24 steel chargers and a dispenser in exchange for £20.
He even gave an in-depth tutorial on how to consume the gas.
The packaging says it is for "whipping creams, desserts, mousses, sauces etc" and carries the explicit warning: "Misuse can be dangerous to your health! Do not inhale!"
The assistant tells News Shopper: "What it does is it starves the oxygen into your brain.
"But it’s not dangerous. It just starves it, gives you like a buzz."
Despite being sold as a potentially fatal legal high, risks include immediate suffocation.
Owner of Skunkworks, Max Mulley, insisted staff were thoroughly trained not to sell nitrous oxide for human consumption.
He said: "We do not sell it as a legal high. It is for cream parties."
Referring to how the product was sold to News Shopper, Mr Mulley said: "It should not have been said, full stop. It is not for human consumption. "The person who sold it will be out of a job once I find out who it is."
Mr Mulley categorically stated that Skunkworks does not sell to under 18s and has a strict policy on ensuring anyone under the age of 21 is asked for identification.