Anorak News | Nitrous Oxide laugh in: Spurs and England’s Kyle Walker is a victim of the Daily Mail’s drugs misinformation policy

Nitrous Oxide laugh in: Spurs and England’s Kyle Walker is a victim of the Daily Mail’s drugs misinformation policy

by | 9th, September 2013

Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker

SPURS and England defender Kyle Walker has been pictured inhaling laughing gas from a balloon. The picture was taken last June. Is that bad? Well, taking any stimulant is not a healthy option. He won’t be doing it again.

The Sunday Mirror was aghast and thundered:

“This photograph was taken as he was recovering from an injury that forced him to miss England’s friendly double-header against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.”

Injured footballer on holiday inhales nitrous oxide. Is that a big deal? Well, it is if you sit on the picture and wait until the eve of England’s big match in the Ukraine to publish it.

Neil Ashton writes in the Mail:

‘The FA insist that Walker, who has seven caps and is expected to start against Ukraine, has not broken any laws or behaved in a way that affects his standing with the England team.”

Well, he’s not broken any laws.

But Ashton says it’s bad because the drug creates “feelings of euphoria that have been likened to heroin or crack cocaine”.

One might say the drugs has been likened to heroine and crack by nitrous oxide fiends who have not taken heroin and crack.

Indeed, the Mail hears from a Steve Ream, director of the charity Re-Solv which works to prevent volatile substance abuse, said:

“Although inhaling nitrous-oxide out of balloons is quite innocuous we are concerned that for some people it can lead to other types of solvent abuse.”

Still, the Mail calls it “hippy crack”. And notes how prevalent it is:

Nitrous oxide – known as laughing gas because it can have euphoric effects when inhaled – has been used as an anaesthetic since the 1840s and is used in up to half of the operations carried out in the UK.

Blimey. Thousands of us are in peril. Have any other footballers who have gone under the knife taken it?

That fact created the Mail’s not-in-the-least-bit-scaremongering headline:

Laughing gas ‘may raise risk of heart attack’

The Mail then told pregnant women that gas and air is fine:

If you do decide on drugs to help with the pain, there are several choices…’Gas and air’ is the name given to nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas. Some women find it very helpful and like the fact that it wears off after a short while.


Walker’s hit, however, has lasted three months.

Any how, it’s good to see that the Mail is keeping it’s own head level as talk of drugs swirls about the place. This is the paper that reported in 2012:

It’s no laughing matter… Nitrous oxide may have caused the end of the last ice age – and could yet accelerate global warming

So. It’s natural. And it will end life on Earth as we know it. The paper then added:

Celebrities like Michelle Keegan have been pictured using the drug, which is illegal to sell for human consumption but readily available for the purpose of whipping cream

The Mail also noted:

The deadly rise of ‘hippy crack’: For celebrities, it’s the party drug du jour. Now inhaling laughing gas – is spreading to middle-class living rooms

And upper-class noses. Prince Harry’s taken it. The Mail thought that so seriously awful it made a joke of it:

Prince Harry has a gas  on ‘hippy crack’

But it’s innocuous – the Mail quotes an expert who says so. But the Mail also says:

There is just one problem: nitrous oxide is no more legal than it is innocuous… As for being innocuous, that is only true if one ignores the alarming side-effects it can cause: strokes, hallucinations, seizures, blackouts, incontinence, stress on the heart, chronic depression and even — in cases of prolonged use — depleted bone marrow. Few would tack the word ‘harmless’ on to such a list.

And – what’s this? – the Mail has quoted Mr Ream before:

Stephen Ream, director of substance abuse charity Re-Solv, is unequivocal: ‘Every year, people die in this country from taking nitrous oxide.’

But he said inhaling it from a ballon, which is the Mail’s story, is “quite innocuous”.

The Mail then says legal nitrous oxide is like Class A drugs:

…like our old foe alcohol, laughing gas is nothing new. As far back as the 18th century it was popular with the aristocracy. But so were opium and cocaine, and we all know the destruction wrought by those drugs once they seeped into our society.

Does the Mail have any evidence of anyone dying form nitrous oxide? Yes:

Joe Benett, 17, suffered a heart attack and brain damage after taking gulps of nitrous oxide – nicknamed ‘hippy crack’ – from a canister.

Only, he didn’t. The Evening Standard followed up:

Joe died in late September last year, 27 days after inhaling what he and his friends thought was nitrous oxide — commonly used in dental surgeries and labour wards but also known as “laughing gas”, a so-called party drug that causes a brief but intense high and is often inhaled from balloons.

In fact, the canister Joe used contained a cocktail of chemicals including butane, isobutane and pentane — used in the production of polystyrene foam — and no nitrous oxide at all.


The truth is that anyone taking nitrous oxide should now that it carries risks. A professional footballer, for whom his health is his wealth, is an utter pillock for taking it. In the good old days, if he’d have wanted to kill off a few brain cells he’d just have got rat-arsed on booze.

You know, like journalists used to do…



Posted: 9th, September 2013 | In: Key Posts, Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink