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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Sudden death

'Deeply worrying' increase in people huffing butane in Dublin city centre

It’s widely and cheaply available – but can lead to fits, short term memory loss and in some cases sudden death.

AN ORGANISATION THAT works with drug-users in Dublin city centre is highlighting a “worrying” increase in people inhaling butane gas to achieve a cheap high.

The substance is widely available via cigarette lighter refills, canisters and aerosol sprays.

Users report an immediate drunk-like intoxication and a ‘euphoria’ or a ‘sense of well-being’.

However, there are significant risks to users – and the Ana Liffey Drug Project has launched an awareness campaign to highlight those dangers.

“Using inhalants such as butane gas is not a new phenomenon; however, we have seen a resurgence in its use in recent years amongst people living on the streets and amongst people in hostel accommodation,” director of Ana Liffey Tony Duffin said.

“This trend is worrying, as inhaling butane is unpredictable and highly risky.

“Inhaling butane can cause sudden death – there is no safe usage level.

“In addition, there are many other potential harms when inhaling butane – including fits and loss of short term memory.

It’s cheap and accessible, so unfortunately inhaling butane has become part of some people’s daily drug use. As a result, we’re seeing very challenging behaviours – people are hard to engage with as they tend to avoid contact with others and stay away from services.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh has given her support to the initiative, and said she was “deeply concerned” about the issue.

“I think this is not something many people would be aware of and I commend the ‘Inhaling Butane Information Campaign’,” the Sinn Féin councillor said.

but Ana Liffey Drug Project Detail of the A3 poster. Ana Liffey Drug Project

As part of the campaign A3 posters and fact sheets are being circulated to retailers, emergency accommodation providers, addiction services and Garda stations.

The campaign advises that it is always safest not to inhale butane, and provides harm reduction information and advice on what should be done in an emergency if someone is unconscious.

You can find out more about the campaign here and hard copies of the poster can be requested by emailing

Read: Just yards from the lattés and those craft beer bars … dozens upon dozens of needles

Read: What can Ireland learn from a country that decriminalised drugs? 

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