YOUNG people are being warned about the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide.

Wiltshire Police said it would be carrying out extra patrols to tackle the problem.

Typically, the gas is inhaled from a balloon to give the user a brief high. Users often leave behind the small silver bottles the gas comes in.

On Twitter officers in Warminster said: “These small NOS cylinders contain the illegal and psycho-active drug nitrous oxide and have been found in parks, fields and pathways. Please talk to your kids about its dangers.”

PC Lee Pelling, neighbourhood officer for the Melksham area, said: “A rise in the use of nitrous oxide canisters is not just an issue in Melksham, but is something which is happening across the county and the country.

“We are aware that it is a drug used by young people, so we are urging teenagers and their parents or carers to learn more about it and the associated risks.

“We will also be carrying out increased patrols in areas where it may be a problem, and will be working with partners to engage with young people and educate them about the potential dangers.

“Nitrous oxide is a psychoactive drug, covered by the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, which means it is illegal to give away or sell.

“It also carries immediate and long-term health risks, so please read more about it from a trusted source, such as the Frank website.”

Cllr Jon Hubbard, chairman of the Trust that runs Young Melksham, warned that drugs are an issue across the town.

He said young people and adults don’t appear to realise the dangers that Nos can pose to their health, adding: “There is an issue with these canisters and I fear that young people don’t realise how dangerous these can be.”

When inhaled, the colourless and odourless nitrous oxide gas slows down the body’s reaction time. This results in a calm, euphoric feeling.

The gas is used medically as an anaesthetic, particularly by dentists, where it functions as a mild sedative and is used to treat pain.

It’s also used in the catering industry as the propellant in whipped cream cans. Regular misuse can deplete the body’s stores of vitamin B12, causing anaemia and, in some cases, nerve damage that can lead to paralysis.

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