Do you know what Nitrous Oxide is?

You may have come across these small canisters littering the streets or green spaces.

The canister contains a gas called Nitrous Oxide, commonly used and easily purchased for the catering industry as pressurised whipped cream chargers. Nitrous Oxide gas is also used by highly trained medical staff as a sedative and anaesthetic.

However Nitrous Oxide is being used as a drug, usually inhaled through a balloon. Because of the relaxation effects caused when inhaled including uncontrollable fits of laughter it is often named the ‘laughing gas’. Unfortunately, when you understand the dangerous effects of this drug you will realise it is no laughing matter. If you are over 18 years of age you can legally buy Nitrous Oxide over the internet, but it is illegal to sell on the gas as a drug. Due to the relatively low cost it is financially accessible to young adults and youths under 18 years of age and is becoming a popular drug with risks attached. 

gas canisters

Below is a list of known dangerous effects of Nitrous Oxide.

  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness which might make you act carelessly or dangerously.
  • Stops you thinking straight
  • Intense feelings of paranoia
  • Risk falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen. People have died this way.
  • Cause deficiency of vitamin B12. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes. This can be very painful and make walking difficult.
  • Regular use can stop you forming white blood cells properly which can cause further medical issues
  • It can be hard to judge the amount to use safely. If you have too much you can end up fainting, having an accident or worse.
  • Mixing nitrous oxide with alcohol is especially dangerous as it can increase the risks associated with both substances. 

You can visit Talk to Frank a drug information and support website which will give you further information and support if you are worried about a family member or friend.