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Is Nitrous Oxide Dangerous?

May 7, 2023

The rising use of nitrous oxide as a party drug while also being commonly administered by dental and medical professionals may lead some people to consider it harmless. If used for recreational purposes, it can pose serious threats to your health and well-being. Let’s look at some of the common risks associated with nitrous oxide and how to find treatment and support to end the misuse of it.

What makes nitrous dangerous when used recreationally is the potential for blackouts, loss of consciousness, and even death. Although N₂O is available legally in whipped cream canisters, inhaling it again and again over time can lead to permanent changes to memory, personality, and cognitive abilities. Interaction of nitrous oxide and alcohol can be potentially deadly, too. If you know someone with a history of N₂O abuse, treatment at Origins Recovery Center in Texas is available.

What Makes up Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous Oxide (N₂O) is a gas made up of two chemical elements:  nitrogen and oxygen. It is a colorless and odorless gas so it’s virtually undetectable. Its ability to make people feel a sense of euphoria led to it being dubbed “laughing gas.” Its potency as an inhalational anesthetic is low, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless.

What Are the Effects of Nitrous Oxide Use?

Nitrous oxide is a common sedative used in dental and surgical procedures as well as during childbirth as it can provide relief from pain and anxiety. Even when administered for medical purposes, it can lead to unpleasant side effects. The side effects can include dizziness, nausea, and headaches. A more serious outcome of its use could be unconsciousness. Long-term use can make nitrous dangerous when resulting in vitamin B-12 deficiency and leading to nerve damage and cognitive impairment.

What’s Nitrous Oxide Used for Legally?

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”, is commonly used by medical professionals in offices, clinics, and hospitals. It’s a well-known part of dental procedures as a pain reliever. In hospitals, it’s used as a general anesthetic before surgery and during labor and delivery, and it’s typically diluted with extra oxygen for safety. Healthcare providers may avoid using nitrous on patients with an existing vitamin B-12 deficiency, a history of mental health conditions, a history of substance abuse, or a history of respiratory illnesses. Beyond the medical purposes, nitrous oxide increases engine power in race cars and plays a role in food production for freezing and chilling food. Misuse of it from legal forms can have serious consequences.

What Are Street Names for Illegal Use of Nitrous Oxide?

We’ve already mentioned “laughing gas” as one name for nitrous oxide. There are many other nicknames associated with N₂O. You may have already heard of “whippets”, “nos”, and “hippie crack.” The term “whippets” comes from inhaling the gas from cans of whipped cream. What makes whippets dangerous, beyond the threat of unconsciousness, is impairment of judgment and muscle control as well as risk of heart failure, suffocation or seizures. Also, an overdose of “whippets” can cause hallucinations or send the user into a coma.

Is There a Risk if Mixed with Other Drugs?

Mixing nitrous oxide with other substances can be dangerous and potentially deadly as (N₂O) can amplify the effects of other drugs. Interactions of alcohol and nitrous oxide can cause respiratory depression and lead to blackouts, a loss of consciousness, and even death. Whether mixed with other drugs or used solo, there may be lasting effects of using whippets from memory loss to personality changes to impaired cognitive ability.

Where Can I Get Help for Nitrous Oxide Misuse?

If you or a loved one are struggling with nitrous oxide misuse, know that you are not alone. The team at Origins Recovery Center in Texas understands how difficult it can be to seek help for substance use. We offer a supportive and non-judgmental environment for those seeking treatment for long-term nitrous oxide use. Our experienced staff utilizes evidence-based treatments to help individuals overcome their substance use and begin the work necessary to regain control of their lives. At Origins, you can receive personalized care and support as you navigate the road to recovery.

Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 866-875-1558.

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