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Nitrous: Who’s Laughing Now?


To some kids nitrous oxide is nothing but giggles and laughs.  That’s why N20 is very popular among kids looking for a cheap high.  Nitrous is very inexpensive, extremely easy to get, and can usually be purchased legally at head shops, department stores, and through mail order magazines.  Legal, however, does not mean harmless.

At least fifty deaths have been reported each year in America alone.  Nitrous has no color to it, and smells very sweet.  The effects produced are giddiness, relaxation, mild-to-strong anesthesia, and a floating-like sensation.  It is also used medically, to put people under for dental surgeries.

After hours nitrous is a recreational drug, mostly at shows, clubs, and raves.  One source of nitrous is found in whipped cream containers and used as a propellant.  The most popular form is found in canisters also known as Whip-It.  Often huge industrial-strength canisters somehow make their way out of dentist offices and supply houses, and make their way to raves and events.  The drug is then sold in balloons that are filled up from the canister of gas.

Commercial sales of nitrous are over tens of millions of dollars each year, and that excludes the black market trade, and what is sold at raves.  Some experts truly believe nitrous only produces a physical reaction and any other psychoactive effect is all in the user’s head, and it’s only the brain attempting to bounce back to normal and grab ahold of reality.

One of the main dangers of nitrous is its ability to suffocate the user.  People who huff nitrous straight from a tank or a large enough balloon in a tiny enough space risk passing out, sometimes permanently.  Some kids are even using nitrous in cars, which is extremely risky.  Windows are rolled tight to keep gas from escaping, which works extremely well, causing the majority of suffocation deaths.  Additionally, there are many fatal car wrecks caused by kids huffing nitrous while driving.  Using too much can cause vomiting and disorientation.

One of my personal experiences with nitrous was at a summer rave in Portland, Oregon.  Several friends and I rented two RVs and decided to get a 100 pound nitrous oxide tank along with countless other drugs (acid, coke, ecstasy, ketamine, etc.).  We had done this before so we knew what to expect.  We got to the show and cracked the tank open and started filling balloons for each other one after another.  Once we started we could not stop, as nitrous is sometimes called “Hippie Crack” due to its highly physiologically addictive qualities, and your mind wants to stay in that high and keep the fun going.

By the end of the weekend I was sucking nitrous straight out of the tank, to the point it froze to my lips and the paramedics had to come remove the tank from my lips.  It might have been a great idea—and lots of fun—but, in the end, I wasn’t the one laughing.


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Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs · Tags: Hippie Crack, N20, nitrous, Nitrous Addiction, nitrous oxide, Whip-It

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