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Nitrous Oxide

About Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is a gas that when inhaled causes quick ‘rush’ and short lasting effects. When used in extra risky ways, used in large doses or used frequently over time it can cause harms to health.

Nitrous oxide has a number of industrial uses and is used medically. When mixed with air (50/50 gas and air) it is used as an anaesthetic gas for pain-relief in dentistry and child birth.

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

Nitrous oxide is often categorised as a ‘depressant’, ‘dissociative’ or ‘inhalant’ type drug because of its effects and how it is consumed through inhalation. A depressant drug is one that slows the body down. A dissociative type drug has effects which causes disconnect or detachment from yourself or your surroundings.

Nitrous oxide is known by people who use it as ‘Laughing Gas’, ‘Whippets’, ‘Chargers’, ‘N2O’, ‘Nos’ and ‘Balloons’.Media reports have also termed this substance as ‘Hippy Crack’.It may be confused with CO2 which comes in similar silver canisters used to inflate bike tyres. Because they are both gases used to fill balloons, nitrous oxide could also be confused with helium. The two gases are not related.

How is it taken?

It is inhaled from a balloon which has been filled with the gas, sometimes referred to as ‘nagging’. Gas needs to be discharged from the canister (large and small) to another object such as a balloon. To release the gas from ‘whippets’ canisters, they need to be fitted into a whipped cream canister or an object known as a ‘cracker’. Larger nitrous oxide containers are also used to release gas directly into a balloon.

Why do people use nitrous oxide?

People may choose to use this substance for quick euphoric effects.

What are the effects?

There are always risks with drugs and it is safer not to use at all. It is important to note that each person will react differently to a substance, including nitrous oxide. Effects can bebased on a number of factors depending on; how much is taken (the dose could be often unknown), personal factors such as the persons mental health, if the person has consumed the substance before and if other drugs, alcohol or prescription medication are used at the same time. The setting it is used in can also influence a person’s reaction. Effects start almost immediately peaking at about 10-30 seconds after use. The effects are short lived meaning they don’t last long.

Effects can include:

Unwanted effects can include:

What are the risks?

Further research is needed in relation to the short and long term risks. We know that risks are increased based on the below factors:

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

Harm Reduction

If you use nitrous oxide, get harm reduction on our site here.

More information and nitrous oxide resources 

Posted by on 02/18 at 11:27 AM in
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