A teenager who was bedbound for months after being poisoned by a popular recreational drug says she had “no idea” of the dangers.
Molly Day left the Royal Perth Hospital this week after having to relearn to walk following a crippling addiction to nitrous oxide canisters, commonly known as nangs.
The 19-year-old told 9News she had become addicted to the gas, which is inhaled through the infamous silver canisters designed for commercial caterers.
Experts have warned Ms Day is not alone, with a rapid uptick in admissions to the Royal Perth Hospital emergency department related to nitrous oxide since 2018.
That year, the hospital reported admitting only two patients with complications stemming from chronic use of nitrous; by late-2022, that number had increased to 26.
Ms Day said “Even in my ward now there’s two more people who have been admitted in the past month for the same thing.
“And both of them still had no idea the dangers. I think that‘s awful and sad the word still hasn’t got out you know.”
Nangs were upgraded last year to the a “schedule 6” poison, with their sale to under-16s banned in Western Australia.
Nonetheless, Ms Day said she used nangs heavily for about two months before it started stripping away the lining of her spinal cord.
As a result, much of the function to her body was cut, leaving her unable to walk normally without a brace.
Emergency physician and clinical toxicologist Dr Jessamine Soderstrom is part of a government working group looking in nang use.
She said she repeatedly saw adults aged in their 20s and 30s who were admitted with difficulties walking and had become wheelchair bound.
“They often need to stay in hospital for many weeks and months to learn how to walk again,” she told Nine News.
“This has an incredible cost to the health system sometimes in tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Following her release from hospital, Ms Day said she had accepted invitations to speak at Perth schools.
She warned that word of the dangers still hadn’t “gotten out”.
“A lot of my friends are still doing nangs,” she said.
“I was told they weren‘t dangerous because you could get them from anywhere.”
“Look at me and what happened to me.
“You think it won’t happen to you but it definitely can.
“Just think twice. It’s not worth it.”