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Seriousness of Laughing Gas and Recreational Drug Abuse

Recreational drug use of nitrous oxide could have devastating consequences.Nitrous Oxide has become a popular recreational drug in these past few years. People may recognize the name and immediately think about the dentist or baking, maybe even car racing depending on what they are into. To some though, Nitrous Oxide is used as another way to get high. It is a weak anaesthetic gas that is non-flammable and is able to stop bacteria from growing. This gas also leaves no trace of any sort of taste or odour, which may be part of the appeal to use it recreationally. There are always different ways that people come up with to get high, all of which are extremely damaging to the human body and can be deadly.

This particular gas is available for the average person to purchase and can be found in regular stores. Stores that sell kitchen products, especially gourmet shops, normally carry boxes of nitrous cartridges behind the counter. There is no specific law as to how old one has to be to purchase these items which is scary when thinking about what Nitrous can be used for. There are different varieties and names most commonly called: nitrous, whippets, laughing gas, cream chargers, no, and hippie crack. Cream chargers are small disposable metal cartridges that are used inside of whipped cream dispensers. Whipped cream in a can that can be purchased at the grocery store already has Nitrous in it. Some people may just inhale the can by holding it upright so they get the gas but not the cream. People, who are on a different level of use may purchase large cans/tanks – these are what you find at your local dentist’s offices.

There are some so called “positive” effects as well as negative ones that accompany the Nitrous high:


  • Reaching a state of euphoria very easily
  • Intense abstract experiences
  • Extreme Giddiness


  • Loss of motor functions
  • Disassociation from mind and body
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Loss of inhibitions

As one can see, the desired effects would be a quick little “pick me up” but continued usage causes major damage. Physically, Nitrous is not considered an addictive drug; psychologically it is because it mimics other narcotics. It is a very quick high which usually causes intense repetitive behaviours in its users. Users of this drug will continue to try to get more and more high, which again, in turn, cerates major issues.

Purposely making the human body pass out or by cutting circulation of to the brain does not only kills brain cells but can creates numbness in extremities, B12 deficiencies, suffocation, and it can even lead to death. If a person is to stop breathing, even for a short period of time, it also affects the central nervous system which includes the brain, brain stem and spinal cord. If people would stop and take a look at what they were really doing to their bodies, maybe there wouldn't be so many accidental deaths when it comes to this drug. Death typically occurs in people who highly abuse Nitrous Oxide. They continue to chase their first high and try to inhale more and more gas. If death does not occur from doing this, it can cause severe brain damage.

There have been statements made about how the effects on the body after going on a Nitrous binge and then not doing it for a while, can be similar to the withdrawals that someone may experience if they have not smoked marijuana in a while. There may be bouts of nausea, impulse to want to do Nitrous again, headaches accompanied by lethargy, and just an overall feeling of achy joints and weakness.

Rehabilitation centres do treat people who abuse Nitrous Oxide and unfortunately more and more patients are entering facilities for just this reason. A sad truth is that younger people are being admitted to rehab for something they thought was just all fun and games but has turned into a serious problem. Any form of addiction can be deadly so they should be addressed and treated as soon as the problem is recognized. There is a lot of information that is easily available on the internet about this type of addiction and the best suggestion is to educate yourself so you can better prepare yourself, children, family, and/or friends about the dangers of laughing gas.

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals