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The Abuse of Laughing Gas Among Teens

Laughing gas, otherwise known as Nitrous Oxide, is sometimes a common way teens like to get high. It’s supposedly a “safe” high, but in fact it comes with many dangers. Medically, this drug is used by dentists to help relieve people’s anxiety and sometimes used by doctors to relieve the pain of childbirth. But it has been used by many teens and adults recreationally to experience a quick high.


Sadly, the use of nitrous oxide has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among teens. In England, there have also been reports of teens using nitrous oxide as a means to get high. England recently experienced the death of an 18-year old who died after using laughing gas at a party. He collapsed in the street at around 11:20pm and was taken to the emergency room. Aly Calvert died 2 hours later.


Dr. Paul Seddon, a physician at Alexandra Children’s Hospital in England believes that more teens are at risk of losing their lives. He administered a study after treating a teen who suffering from symptoms of using laughing gas. His study found that 7.6% of teens between the ages of 16-24 have tried laughing gas. And apparently, nitrous oxide is widely available in many shops throughout the U.K.


Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that smells as sweet as it makes you feel. Its immediate effect is laughter and giggles. It is a legal high and can be sold in balloons for people to suck on. It’s also possible to purchase it in a canister and inhale the gas directly from there. However, inhaling nitrous oxide in this way can be dangerous because there’s less control over the amount inhaled. Those who take too much of it may faint. And other negative side effects include vomiting, clumsiness, and headaches. Those who abuse nitrous oxide can eventually experience oxygen deprivation which can lead to loss of blood pressure, regular fainting, and heart attacks. It’s possible that teens who use nitrous oxide as a means to get high might experience these symptoms.


The high off nitrous oxide is short. And a person cannot really become addicted to the substance. However, some teens continue to use it because of the short high that it brings. Other teens might mix nitrous oxide with alcohol or marijuana. However, this can be dangerous. Nitrous oxide already makes someone prone to accidents because clumsiness is a common side effect. Adding other substances can make a person’s clumsiness worse.


What is important for teens to know is that just because nitrous oxide is legal doesn’t make it safe, as the story of the teen in England demonstrates. Also, selling nitrous oxide to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal. And for those teens who are environmentally aware, nitrous oxide affects the ozone layer of our planetary atmosphere. Its use around the world contributes to global warming.


If you or someone you know is regularly using nitrous oxide as a way to get high, talk to an adult you trust about the dangers of this substance.



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