Skip Navigation

Nitrous Oxide Harm Reduction


Risks are increased depending on

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

Don’t inhale Nitrous Oxide directly from the canister or tank: Always use a devise to release the gas and use a balloon to inhale. Nitrous Oxide within the canister is cold and could seriously damage the throat and lungs. Releasing the gas helps warn and normalise the pressure before using.

Don’t use in extra risky ways: Use in well ventilated locations and not confined spaces such as cars.

Don't use near roads or water: You could become dizzy or loose coordination.

Sit down to minimise the risk of falling

Start low and go slow: Take your time, take very small amounts and make sure you are getting enough oxygen. It is risky if it is inhaled continuously with no air breathed.

Avoid using with other substances: This includes using with alcohol and prescription medication. Nitrous oxide and stimulants such as MDMA or cocaine could put extra pressure on your heart. Nitrous Oxide can also make the effects of other drugs more intense and it is harder to predict and manage the effects.

Limit the amount of balloons consumed per session: Don’t use multiple balloons, one after the other. The higher amounts the higher the risk.

Limit how frequently you use: Long term risks are linked to  regular use

Don’t share balloons with other people.

Reduce how much you use and how otfen you use: Long term harms are associated with how much people use, meaning how many balloons you use per session and how often you use. 

Don’t be afraid to get medical help on 999/112 if someone becomes unwell. If someone has chest pain directly after use or the days after use they should discuss with a medical professional. 

Look out for long term harms: talk to your GP if you have numbness, pain, tingling or unusual sensation in your feet, arms, hands or legs as this could be a sign of Vitamin B12 deficiency which can lead to irreversible long term health problems.

Pick up litter after use

Avoid use if you have underlying health conditions with your heart, blood pressure or asthma

Be careful with larger canisters: There has been a progression to the use of larger canisters. We are still learning about how people are using from these products and if there are extra risks. We do know that these canisters are cold and can cause frost bite on the hands and face if a person tries to inhale directly from the canister. 

It is always safer not to use at all.

If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s substance use, contact the HSE Helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday – Friday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm or by email on

Share this:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • LinkedIn
  • E-mail
The HSE and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) ask students to think about drug safety measures when using club drugs
Harm reduction messages from the #SaferStudentNights campaign.
Poll Poll

Have you ever been impacted negatively by someone else's drug taking?