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Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

nitrous oxideBest known for its use in dental surgery, Nitrous Oxide is also what makes whipped cream fluffy. It is a short-acting dissociative anesthetic, meaning it separates perception from sensation or mind from body.

Forms

names include: nitrous, laughing gas, whippits, no, hippie crack, cream chargers

Nitrous Oxide is legally available in the form of whipped cream chargers - small, replaceable, metal cartridges that are used in gourmet-quality whipped cream dispensers. Nitrous Oxide is also present in disposable (Redi-Whip-style) whipped cream cans. Occasionally, certain heavy users or a group of users is able to procure an entire tank of Nitrous Oxide, as used in dentistry.

Nitrous Oxide is always inhaled.

Effects

positive

negative

  • giddiness
  • euphoria
  • intense abstract experiences
  • extreme dizziness
  • loss of inhibitions
  • intense dissociation of mind from
  • body
  • loss of motor control
  • loss of consciousness

Addiction potential

While not physically addictive, Nitrous Oxide is sometimes used compulsively by certain individuals (hence the name "hippie crack"). Psychological addiction is possible, but there are no significant withdrawal symptoms aside from the desire to use more nitrous; more dangerous is the possibility for brain/nerve damage in heavy users.

Dangers

Nitrous Oxide is considered safe when used only occasionally (hence the medical applications). However, heavy nitrous use can cause numbing of extremities as a result of B12 deficiency. Occasionally, this can lead to long-term damage.

Nitrous Oxide also obviously kills a lot of brain cells, and like any inhalant is dangerous because it deprives the brain of oxygen. (This is the difference between medical and recreational use of Laughing Gas; in dental surgery, the Nitrous Oxide is mixed with oxygen.) While suffocation deaths are rare, they can occur if a user loses consciousness with a mask strapped to his/her face or is in a very small, enclosed space.

Risk management (best advice to user)

Do not attempt to stand. You will most likely fall.

Never strap anything (gas mask, balloon, plastic bag) to your face. You need to be able to breathe AIR.

Bring the gas to room temperature either in a taiser or a balloon. Cold Nitrous Oxide can cause freeze burns on the hands, lips, etc.

Last Updated: 1/21/09