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Young People Warned Nitrous Oxide Is #NOtALaughingMatter Ahead of Start of New University Year

Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas, Nos) is a colourless gas and is often used recreationally by young people. Whilst the use of the drug is becoming more common, there is still lack of understanding of the impact that Nitrous Oxide has on someone’s health and wellbeing.

The Risks

It is the second most commonly used drug among 16- to 24-year-olds in England after cannabis. But taking it can lead to a range of health problems such as burns, a dangerously increased heart rate, swelling on the brain, nerve damage and anaemia, as well as serious psychological problems such as paranoia. Nitrous Oxide can also cause dizziness and loss of coordination, which can increase the risk of having accidents. This risk is increased further if you have been drinking.

Regular use can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12 and to a form of anaemia – with the severe deficiency causing serious nerve damage, making walking difficult. Other effects include preventing the body from producing white blood cells, which protect the body against infectious diseases, leaving people susceptible to illness.

It may provide a short-term high, however the long-term effects can be extremely dangerous. 

The Law

  • Nitrous Oxide is a psychoactive drug and is covered by the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act, which means it’s illegal to give away or sell whether for free or sale.
  • Supply and production can get you up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
  • Like drink-driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.
  • If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or hostel, they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.

If you are using Nitrous Oxide (otherwise known as Nos or Laughing Gas), please remember: Using Nitrous Oxide heavily, in an enclosed space, or covering both the nose and mouth when using it, can deprive the brain of oxygen which is potentially fatal.

For substance misuse support contact Compass: or 01788 878227

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