"Risk of serious damage": Laughing gas is increasingly being abused as a drug

Because it is readily available and cheap, people are increasingly using nitrous oxide as an intoxicant.

"Risk of serious damage": Laughing gas is increasingly being abused as a drug

Because it is readily available and cheap, people are increasingly using nitrous oxide as an intoxicant. Many users would find the short kick harmless, warns the responsible EU authority. However, consumption can cause serious harm.

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is concerned about the increasing abuse of nitrous oxide as an intoxicant. "The increasing use of nitrous oxide for cheering up in some regions of Europe is worrying," said the head of the Lisbon-based EU agency, Alexis Goosdeel.

Users generally feel that inhaling nitrous oxide is safe. But stronger and more frequent consumption increases the "risk of serious damage, such as damage to the nervous system," Goosdeel warned. According to a report by his agency, the number of reported poisonings with nitrous oxide in Europe has also increased slightly. Laughing gas is used legally as a food additive, for example in spray cream, or in medicine as a painkiller.

Because it is readily available and cheap, it is increasingly being used as an intoxicant. The head of the EMCDDA explained that nitrous oxide is increasingly being marketed and that there are online shops for it. Goosdeel demanded that the risks and consequential damage caused by the consumption of nitrous oxide should be better researched. But it is already important to avoid "normalization and thus unwanted promotion of consumption".

The Netherlands recently passed a ban on the possession and sale of nitrous oxide. From January 1, 2023, the gas belonging to the group of nitrogen oxides will be added to the list of prohibited intoxicants, the Ministry of Health announced last week in The Hague. Exceptions apply to medical and technical purposes. Doctors are allowed to use the gas as a light anesthetic. And private individuals can still buy small cartridges filled with nitrous oxide, for example for whipped cream dispensers.

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