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Nitrous Oxide - which to a lot of us is known as NOS or laughing gas, is an anaesthetic gas with pain-relieving properties. NOS has become widely available for recreational use and normally is used in social settings when the user would inhale the gas from a balloon using a whipped cream canister. As this drug is becoming widely popular, we must highlight like all drugs NOS has the potential for psychological dependency, although this can be rare. NOS is a depressant drug that slows down the body.


How dangerous is it?

Nicole Lee works as a paid consultant in the alcohol and other drug sector. She has ly been awarded grants by state and federal governments, NHMRC and other public funding bodies for alcohol and other drug research. Stephen Bright does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Hamish Bidgood died when he fell from a balcony. Nangs is a slang term for nitrous oxide, an anaesthetic that has been used for more than years.

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Most people probably know it as laughing gas. In a medical setting, it is usually inhaled, mixed with oxygen, through a small mask that fits over your nose. It has been used to help people withdraw from alcohol — with mixed. : Weekly Dose: from laughing parties to whipped cream, nitrous oxide's on the rise as a recreational drug.

With the expansion of its use in medical settings in the late s, and hence its availability, it became more popular as a recreational drug.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide provides a short-lived 20 second high, in which people who use it feel euphoria and relaxation. They can also feel dizziness, have difficulty thinking straight, and fall into fits of laughter. In higher doses, some people report a sense of floating and dissociation of the mind from the body, which is why in medical circles it is referred to as a dissociative anaesthetic.

If a person has small infrequent doses, there is a low risk of ificant problems with this drug. It is very rare to overdose from recreational use of nitrous oxide, but it can affect coordination and judgement.

Overdose deaths have been reported in the United Kingdom and United States but we are not aware of any in Australia. In very large doses, without the addition of oxygen, it can cause loss of blood pressure, fainting and even death by hypoxia oxygen deficiency.

Chronic, regular heavy use is very rare, but can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. B12 is essential for good brain functioning and if left untreated can lead to irreversible neurological problems.

Effects of nitrous oxide

Given its easy availability as whipped cream bulbs, the drug seems to be growing in popularity among young people. : Three charts on: Australia's changing drug and alcohol habits.

One newspaper claimed schoolies have been spending thousands of dollars on nitrous oxide. Respondents to the Global Drug Survey put nangs as the seventh most popular drug worldwide, excluding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

Concern about the behaviour of youth is not new, and moral panic about drugs, in particular, is often part of this perennial worry about young people. It is well documented that the media can influence perceptions and interest in drug use, and poor media reporting can work as an advertisement for drugspiquing curiosity and normalising use.

Nitrous oxide

Research has shown that interest in a drug peaks after widespread media coverage and that restricting the availability can lead to increased use. Prohibiting drugs does not prevent people using them, and more harmful unregulated products can emerge. Alcohol Prohibition in the s, for example, merely led to demand for illicit supply that had high alcohol content and contained impurities that caused blindness, paralysis and death.

So banning nangs could cause more harm than it prevents.

Quick info

And it could lead to some very disgruntled whipped cream fans as well. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Nitrous oxide has been used as an anaesthetic for over years.

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People open the canister, transfer the gas into a container usually a balloon , then inhale from the balloon.


Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas that is commonly used for sedation and pain relief, but is also used by people to feel intoxicated or high.