The Dangers Of Nitrous Oxide’s Recreational Use

“Huffing” from cans, also known as whip-Its or laughing gas, is a dangerous activity that has unfortunately increased in popularity throughout the past few decades, especially amongst teens. Breathing nitrous oxide — which is the deadly gas used recreationally in these activities — is deeply addictive and can cause many health issues. While the idea of laughing gas seems fairly innocuous, it is anything but, with ghastly consequences.

If you or a loved one is currently using nitrous oxide in any way, stop and read the following primer on its dangers. If there might be an issue with full-blown addiction, then the experts at will offer advice and can help with rehabilitation. You might not be at the point where an intervention is necessary, but you should look for different resources to help you or a loved one with any current struggles.




While nitrous oxide in small amounts might not result in any immediate health issues, it does depend on the frequency with which it is used and exactly how the intake occurs. If inhaling is done in large amounts frequently, the side effects will be rather dire. Concurrently, if the gas is mixed with other drugs such as marijuana, mushrooms, or LSD, then it can lead to an extreme case of disassociation, which is deeply dangerous.

Another risk when combining different drugs is that too much pressure will be placed on the heart, increasing issues with blood flow, causing a disruptive heart rate that can prove to be fatal.


Possible Lung Damage and Breathing  


Inhaling nitrous oxide directly does not only damage vocal cords, but it can also result in lung damage and extreme dizziness. The risks of this are increased when using with a plastic bag overhead, spraying near flammable substances — or substances that will only increase the damage to your lungs, such as cigarette smoke — drinking alcohol, or if the user inhales while standing up, causing them to pass out.

Continuous inhalation of nitrous oxide, especially when used with another substance, increases the sense of confusion, feeling slow, and unable to concentrate. It can also lead to a sort of numbness or sluggishness of the limbs, and eventually, memory loss. Blacking out for long stretches of time does not only mean that you lack the ability to remember things that happened during a specific time, but it also creates a neurological accumulation in your brain’s ability to recall many other things, which is deeply harmful.


Depersonalization or Psychosis


The continuous use of nitrous oxide, especially under dangerous circumstances, can lead to a psychotic break that could potentially be difficult to come back from. Long-term effects on mental health are very real yet rarely mentioned the danger that can be life-changing in the most awful way imaginable.

Another common danger that has been shown to occur with the use of nitrous oxide is depersonalization. This typically results in the user having a detachment with the self, feeling as though they are living within a dreamy state divorced from their body. They would also feel separated from their mental faculties, with the sense that the world before them has contorted in some deep, completely unfathomable way. Needless to say, this disorder can have long-term effects on the psyche and are truly terrifying.


Long-term Physical Effects


In addition to possible heart failure and the sense of “loose limbs,” there are other long-term physical effects that come with nitrous oxide use. For one, it can create bodily spasms that are painful and uncomfortable, and also result in a weakened immune system. Also, if a woman inhales the gas while pregnant, it can result in potential birth-defects for her child.  

There are other difficulties, if slightly less consuming, effects to deal with, such as a continual buzzing or ringing in the user’s ears, incontinence, and numbness in the upper and lower extremities. Sweating, feeling super tired and weak have also been reported, as well as blurred vision, and sedation, which of course is incredibly dangerous if driving or operating heavy machinery.

Nitrous oxide may also result in severe Vitamin B12 depletion, the loss of which causes brain and nerve damage, and further aggravating latent issues such as a sciatic nerve, creating chronic pain that will be difficult to rectify fully with age.


Finding Help


Nitrous oxide use has a long history and unfortunately has been used for centuries. They are making a huge comeback in terms of popularity as a fairly easy to access and affordable stimulant or drug. This only increases their danger, and it is necessary to seek help if the problem is getting out of hand. Addiction is a difficult beast to beat on your own, but the experts at a health clinic are there to help and lighten the burden.



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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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