Is Brendan Rodgers right to give Raheem Sterling a talking to for using nitrous gas?
Even after scoring a sumptuous goal against Newcastle on Monday night, the Liverpool forward made headlines for the wrong reasons when he was pictured in The Sun taking the substance more commonly known as laughing gas.
"I don't think it is something you should be doing, it's as simple as that," said the Reds manager who later added that he would be speaking to Sterling about the issue.
According to Stephen Ream at Re-Solv, a charity dedicated to combating the use of gases, glues and aerosols, Rodgers is right to take the issue so seriously due to potentially devastating effects of the legal drug.
“With Sterling in particular with the status he holds - he’s got to accept that he’s a role model of significant standing”, says Ream.
“As I think Brendan Rodgers has said, it’s just a very irresponsible thing to do have done. We’d like to see Sterling come out and apologise for it really.”
The inhaling of laughing gas is slowly growing in the UK. According to a Home Office survey into drug misuse in England and Wales, 7.6 per cent of young adults aged 16 to 24 had taken the drug in the last year.
Laughing gas delivers a short euphoric high rarely longer than 60 seconds, yet its use can still cause significant damage explains Ream, even if it is unlikely to be lead to a long term decline in on-pitch performance.
“I wouldn't think it would have a long-term effect on his performance in that sense, no,” he explains. “But it’s hard to say. I don’t think there are enough studies out there.”
Ream argues that many are under the impression there are no risks attached, yet that's not the case. "There are deaths attached to it if people use it in a particular way", he warns. "If you hook yourself up through a mask or a tank that can be extremely dangerous and lead to asphyxiation. I think there are 17 deaths since 2006 in the UK on record.
“I think the Sterling video shows him almost lose consciousness for a second. So if you think about that and then transplant Sterling sitting down on a sofa to the streets or a near a canal then you can see the potential dangers there.”