Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is a colourless gas that is commonly used for sedation and pain relief. It is also used by people to feel intoxicated. When inhaled, it causes rapid analgesia (pain relief), euphoria, mild sedation & psychedelic dissociation. It has been used in dentistry since the mid-1800s and recreationally since the late 1700s when it earned the name ‘laughing gas’ because of its tendency to cause laughter in those who inhale it. It is also a food additive when used as a propellant for whipped cream and is used in the automotive industry to enhance engine performance.
N2O that is prepared for automotive use or any other use than human consumption should not be inhaled, as other dangerous chemicals may have been added to the mix. It is also increasingly being used to treat people withdrawing from alcohol dependence. Nitrous oxide is classified as a dissociative anesthetic and has been found to produce dissociation of the mind from the body (a sense of floating), distorted perceptions and visual and audio hallucinations.
DURATION OF EFFECTS
Total Duration: 1-5 minutes
Onset: 0-60 seconds
Peak: 1-5 minutes
Coming Down: 10 minutes
After Effects/Hangover: 15 minutes
Even though the apparent effects of the drug wear off after 5 -10 minutes, the drug is still active in your system for up to 15 minutes after you have taken it. Remember this if using other substances or redosing.
‘Set’ (your mind & body) + ‘Setting’ (environment) + Drug
Analgesia (pain relief)
Clumsiness/loss of balance
Buzzing sensation in fingers/toes
Confusion *LESS COMMON
Dizziness/light headedness *LESS COMMON
Numbness in extremities with regular use *LESS COMMON
Reduced vitamin B12 levels *RARE
Giddiness, laughter, giggling
Minor-strong visual hallucinations and visuals
Reduced perception of external stimuli
Long Term Effects
Depletion of vitamin B12 can cause numbing of fine nerve endings - especially noticeable in the fingers & toes. Using supplements can help reduce the likelihood of this.
For advanced depletion vitamin B12 shots are used to treat. If left untreated, B12 deficiency can lead to long-term damage.
Exposure to nitrous oxide has also been linked to lowered fertility rates in women.
It is not recommended to use nitrous if you have or are at risk of:
Pregnant as it may cause miscarriage
History of anemia
Breathing difficulties or other respiratory issues
Polydrug use has many possible outcomes. What could be fun for one person could be dangerous for another. We recommend you proceed with caution.
Depressants (GHB, alcohol,benzos & opioids) = increased risk of losing consciousness
Psychedelics (LSD,DMT, magic mushrooms, 2CB) = can lead to a short intense increase of psychedelic experience that may be experienced as challenging.
MDMA = nausea
Alcohol = nausea
Psychedelics (LSD, DMT, magic mushrooms, 2CB) = can lead to a short intense increase of psychedelic experience that may be experienced as challenging.
Roadside Police: Roadside saliva tests do not look for nitrous. It is illegal to drive under the influence of any illicit drugs, including nitrous oxide and any driver may be subject to a roadside behavioural impairment test. Wait at least 2 hours before driving.
Workplace: It is so rapidly metabolised that it is therefore not able to be tested for.
‘Pill Testing’/Drug Checking: Not able to be tested for
Use around people you trust and somewhere you feel safe.
Sit or lie down when using as it can affect your ability to stand.
Keep your head elevated slightly if lying down.
Take breaks between sessions & breathe lots of fresh air between inhalations.
Only a couple of inhalations from a balloon is needed to absorb most nitrous—Oxygen deprivation does not increase the high.
Using a balloon helps to warm the gas (the gas is freezing / -40C degrees eg. can cause frostbite) and normalises the pressure before inhaling (can cause ruptures in lung tissue when inhaled directly from these containers).
Cover nozzle with a piece of fabric to filter metal particles from the bulbs if inhaling directly from cream whipper.
If using a small handheld cracker, always put into a balloon and do not directly inhale.
Avoid sharing balloons and cream whippers to reduce the risk of transferring bacteria and viruses like herpes to one another.
Nitrous oxide bulbs are extremely flammable as all pressurised gases are at risk of explosion. Do not use near an open flame.
Nitrous bulbs can be recycled at certain recycling centres. Dispose responsibly to protect the earth, and each other from injury.
Cleaning out your equipment from bacteria, grease and gunk will reduce risk of viral and bacterial infections.
This resource has been made by people who use drugs for their peers & the wider community. The role of DanceWize is to provide credible & non-judgmental info to promote health & harm reduction. In an unregulated (illegal) market you don’t know the purity or dose of any drug and there is always some risk. You can educate yourself and practise harm reduction to reduce risk. Knowledge is power. #JUSTSAYKNOW