The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and Ghana Anesthetists' Society (GAS) have cautioned the public about the life-threatening risks associated with the recreational use of nitrous oxide.
In a joint statement released on Monday, December 4, the medical bodies raised alarm over "reports in the media that suggest the increasing use of Nitrous Oxide popularly known as 'balloon' for recreational purposes."
They expressed concern about the "ease of access for such a potentially dangerous drug."
The medical groups added, “The use of the drug can also compromise breathing which can kill in less than 10 minutes."
It also noted: "Nitrous oxide is one of the anaesthetic gases in clinical use. As an anaesthetic drug, it has the potential to reduce consciousness which is accompanied by breathing difficulties and cardiovascular depression."
The GMA and GAS emphasize that nitrous oxide "is used strictly by trained personnel (Anaesthesiologists) who have the requisite knowledge and skill to manage its side effects in a hospital environment."
The medical associations are calling on law enforcement agencies to join the Food and Drugs Authority in clamping down on the illicit distribution and recreational use of nitrous oxide.
They warn that without strict regulation, further abuse of the gas could endanger many lives.