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Nitrous Oxide ‘Laughing Gas’ Category: Dissociative drugs

Type of drug: depressant/dissociative/inhalant

Also known as: Laughing Gas, Whippets (cartridges of nitrous oxide), Whippit, Chargers, Bulbs, NoS, N2O, balloons

Nitrous Oxide is a gas that has a number of industrial uses and is used clinically as an anaesthetic gas for pain-relieving properties when mixed with air.

It is a colourless gas that some say is slightly sweet smelling and tasting. It can be found in different forms such as whipped cream chargers ‘whippets’ which are small silver cartridges. It can also come as crackers with balloons attached or as balloons that have been filled with the gas.

It is inhaled, sometimes referred to as ‘nagging’

There are always risks with drugs, it is safer not to use.

It is important to note that each person will react differently to a substance. Effects can be based on a number of factors depending on; how much is taken and the dose which sometimes can be unknown, personal factors such as the persons seize and mental health, if the person has consumed the substance before and if other drugs, alcohol or prescription medication are used at the same time.

Short term effects

Below are common effects that a person may feel:

Long term effects

Other known risks

Withdrawal

Nitrous oxide is sometimes used in a compulsive way. However, there are no significant withdrawal symptoms other than the desire to use more nitrous oxide.

Dependence

Currently there are no reports of nitrous oxide dependence in the literature. There is anecdotal evidence of psychological dependence.

Harm reduction information 

Risks are increased depending on: 

1. How it is used
2. How much is used
3. How often it is used

Get information on how to reduce the harms here

We continue to monitor this substance and the known risks. 

Educating young people

Parents play an important role in educating young people of the risks asscociated with drug and alcohol use. To help parents discuss drug use and new drug trends, we have provided content to support our HSE parents guide. Learn more here

 

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