explainer

Everything you need to know about the most popular drug at Schoolies this year.

On Thursday morning, a Sydney teenager fell from a Gold Coast balcony and died.

Hamish Bidgood, 18, was in Surfers Paradise on his end of exams Schoolies trip when the tragic incident occurred.

Just hours before his death, a friend of Bidgood said “this is the beginning of the end for Hamish Bidgood” in a Snapchat video which has since been deleted.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” one of Bidgood’s friends later said. “He was such a great kid.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, witnesses believe Bidgood had been ingesting nitrous oxide (also known as ‘nangs’) before he fell to his death.

However, a Queensland Police spokesperson has said Bidgood’s death was not being treated as suspicious.

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, MDMA and nangs are some of the most popular drugs of choice at Schoolies this year.

What are nangs?

Nang is a slang word used for the metal cylinders used in whipped cream siphons.

Also known as whippets or bulbs, nangs generally contain around eight grams of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas.

In a single session, the average number of bulbs used ranges from two to six. The result is an intense but short high.

In 2016, the Global Drug Survey found that nangs were the seventh most popular drug in the world excluding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

And in Australia, canisters are readily available in packs of 10 for $10 in corner stores.

nangs
Empty nitrous oxide cannisters. Image: Getty.

According to the Daily Telegraph, nangs are even available online, with some sellers promising 24/7 delivery of the bulbs.

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According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, long term effects from nitrous oxide can include:

  • Memory loss
  • Vitamin B12 depletion (long-term depletion can lead to brain and nerve damage)
  • Incontinence
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Limb spasms
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Disruption to reproductive systems
  • Psychological dependence
  • Psychosis

Sudden effects from use can include euphoria, sedation, giddiness, uncoordinated movements, blurred vision and dizziness.

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation also reports that inhaling a large amount of nitrous oxide can lead to loss of blood pressure, fainting and heart attack.

Red Frogs Founder Andy Gourley shares the advice every parent needs to hear when it comes to schoolies and drinking.

Last year, the ABC reported about an Australian girl in her 20s who suffered severe brain damage from bingeing on nangs.

The female student, who was inhaling 360 nangs a week, was struggling to walk.

"Very recently I had a 20-year-old patient whose brain appeared to have the same level of damage as an alcoholic who has been drinking for 40 years," toxicologist Dr Andrew Dawson told the ABC.

"We have had a doubling of the number of calls from hospitals about significantly affected people from nitrous oxide exposure," he said.

"Those effects are severe nerve injury, or sometimes brain injury."

Since 2010, there have been two deaths related to the recreational use of nangs in Australia.

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