Also know as:
Chargers, Hippie Crack, Laughing Gas, Whippits
Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas. Some people say that it has a slightly sweet smell and taste. It is normally brought in pressurised canisters, varying in size depending on what it will be used for. It may be sold in balloons from which you can inhale the gas.
How it is taken
Nitrous oxide is inhaled. People open the canister, transfer the gas into a container (usually a balloon), then inhale from the balloon.
Volatile substances like nitrous oxide are depressant-type drugs, which means that they slow down your brain and your body’s responses.
The effects of nitrous oxide vary depending on how much has been inhaled but they include feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness; dizziness, difficulty in thinking straight and fits of giggles/laughter; sound distortions or even hallucinations. In some people, a headache can be an unwanted immediate effect.
Nitrous oxide can cause dizziness or affect your judgement, which might make you act carelessly or dangerously and put you at risk of hurting yourself, particularly in an unsafe environment. Inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister is very dangerous because the gas is under such high pressure. It can cause a spasm of the throat muscle and stop a person breathing.
Unconsciousness or death from lack of oxygen. This occurs when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide. The risk is greater if the gas is consumed in an enclosed space or if a plastic bag is used that covers both nose and mouth.
It can be hard to judge the amount to use safely – just enough to get a high but not so much to end up fainting, having an accident or much worse.
Severe vitamin B deficiency can develop with heavy, regular use of nitrous oxide. This can cause serious nerve damage, which leads to tingling and numbness in the fingers, toes and other extremities, and even to difficulties with walking, and to pains in the affected areas.
Nitrous oxide is illegal to give away to others or sell. However, there’s no law against possessing (except for those in prison).
If you’re found to be supplying or producing Nitrous Oxide, you could get a prison sentence of up to 7 years, an unlimited fine, or both.
Driving when under the influence of Nitrous Oxide is illegal and if you’re caught doing so, you may receive a heavy fine, a driving ban or a prison sentence.