Laughing Gas Alert

Lisbon (EFE) EMCDDA), which warned of the serious consequences that its use can cause.

Commonly used in industrial products and medicine as a dietary supplement or anesthetic, nitrous oxide also has “psychoactive” effects, inducing feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and dissociation.

While its recreational consumption dates back to the 19th century, it has increased in recent years and is already a concern in some European countries, according to the study Nitrous Oxide Consumption: A Growing Concern in Europe.

The drug is cheap, easy to obtain, has a short-term effect, and is considered “relatively safe” by consumers, continues the Lisbon Observatory.

However, cautions Alexis Gusdil, director of the EMCDDA, “We have found that more frequent or more intense gas consumption increases the risk of serious injury, such as damage to the nervous system.”

The drug is sold in 8 gram cartridges, similar to those used to fill balloons that allow the gas to be inhaled, often used as an aerosol to make whipped cream, and can be purchased at grocery stores, although 15 gram cans are also available. kilogram cylinders.

Social media and side effects

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A young man checks his mobile phone. EFE/Manuel Bruck

The report draws attention to the role of social networks in the advertising and sale of the drug.

“A lucrative and expanding supply chain has developed in which specialized online retailers directly advertise gas for recreational purposes and sell it under the guise of using it to make whipped cream,” he denounces.

But laughing gas is far from harmless. It can cause poisoning, burns, lung damage, and nervous system damage.

Data compiled by the Observatory based on real cases from seven European countries show a significant increase in poisonings since 2017.

Among the consequences, experts warn of irreversible damage due to the inactivation of vitamin B12 in the body, which is essential for the healthy functioning of neurons; cold burns – when gas is released at low temperatures – lung injuries and traffic accidents caused by driving a car under its influence.

In order to address this issue, the Observatory recommends strengthening consumption monitoring and research on its effects and possible treatments, as well as consulting with sectors that use nitrous oxide for industrial production or drug production.

The study was developed on the basis of an investigation of real cases of seven European countries: Denmark, Ireland, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at