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Increasing illicit use of nitrous oxide in presentations to NSW emergency departments

Anna Bethmont, Claire E Harper, Betty SH Chan, Andrew H Dawson and Jeremy McAnulty
Med J Aust 2019; 211 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50377
Published online: 4 November 2019

To the Editor: Recreational use of nitrous oxide is increasing among regular drug users in Australia1 and internationally.2 In a New South Wales survey of participants who had used ecstasy or other stimulants in the past 6 months, 75% of respondents reported recent use of nitrous oxide in 2018, up from 20% in 2013.3 Nitrous oxide use while bingeing on stimulants rose from 4% of respondents in 2013 to 16% in 2017.4,5 Access to nitrous oxide has been facilitated by businesses offering 24/7 delivery of large quantities of canisters, ostensibly for whipping cream.6

  • Anna Bethmont1
  • Claire E Harper2
  • Betty SH Chan3
  • Andrew H Dawson4,5
  • Jeremy McAnulty1

  • 1 Health Protection NSW, NSW Health, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 Ministry of Health New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Prince of Wales Hospital and Community Health Services, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW
  • 5 NSW Poisons Information Service, Sydney, NSW


Acknowledgements: 

We thank the Rapid Surveillance, Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence, NSW Ministry of Health, for their assistance in extracting and analysing the ED data.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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