Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 401 - Healthcare policy [nitrous oxide] [5802/23] .

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 401 - Healthcare policy [nitrous oxide] [5802/23] . (08 Feb 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023...

Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to address the increased recreational use of nitrous oxide canisters, commonly known as laughing gas, particularly by young people and in view of its growing extensive use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5802/23]


Hildegarde Naughton Minister of State at the Department of Health

All drug use is potentially harmful, whatever the context.

Reports emerged in 2019 and early 2020 regarding the use of nitrous oxide use in some Dublin communities. At the time, the HSE engaged with local communities to obtain information on user groups to inform tailored responses, including webinars and information factsheets. Harm reduction materials were developed and shared through the Drugs.ie and HSE social media channels.

The HSE continues to monitor the use of nitrous oxide and to tailor appropriate and targeted messages. Targeted ads are shared every few weeks on the topic of nitrous oxide with audiences over the age of 18, as well as messages which aim to create awareness of long term use, which can cause vitamin B12 deficiency in some individuals, and signs of concern which people can look out for.


The European drugs agency (EMCDDA) recently conducted an EU wide review of nitrous oxide and highlighted a number of key issues regarding the prevention of use including the role of youth workers, the targeted distribution of messaging, and the role of parents.

In line with EMCDDA recommendations, the HSE continues to provide a targeted approach to address the use of nitrous oxide, working together with Drug and Alcohol Task Forces around the country. As part of this tailored approach parents are being offered information on nitrous oxide in various formats by the HSE. An important goal is that parents are well-informed about nitrous oxide, and specific information is available on drugs.ie and via a bespoke parent factsheet. To complement this new content, a series of webinars on substance use and prevention and education for parents are in development and will be delivered in Q1 2023.


For people who use nitrous oxide, impartial harm reduction information regarding nitrous oxide is available on drugs.ie. The HSE has developed a harm reduction factsheet on use of nitrous oxide including the risks, effects and harm reduction advice. The factsheet has been disseminated to Drug and Alcohol Task Forces, student unions, and at festivals and third level institutions.

In addition, a series of educational webinars on nitrous oxide aimed at staff have been rolled out in collaboration with Drug and Alcohol Task Forces with information on the emerging trend of nitrous oxide.


Drugs.ie and social media channels provide nitrous oxide content that is informative, helpful and shareable. The HSE social media team respond directly to people’s questions about substances including nitrous oxide through direct messages on all channels. HSE social media posts drive traffic to its dedicated nitrous oxide web content on drugs.ie.


Strengthening the prevention of drug and alcohol use among children and young people is a strategic priority in the remaining period of the national drugs strategy. An allocation of €1.5 million was provided for a three-year drug and alcohol prevention and education programme. The funding program is a key deliverable under the national drug strategy, which aims to strengthen the prevention of drug and alcohol use, and related harm among children and young people. The programme also fulfils a commitment to the Government Program and aligns with actions in the EU Drugs Action Plan.


I am committed to continuing to resource harm reduction and education campaigns aimed at increasing awareness of the risks of nitrous oxide and other drugs among children and young people.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Inhalents and solvents
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Policy
8 February 2023

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