How dangerous is nos?

Nos (aka Laughing Gas or Nitrous Oxide) is getting pretty popular. Here’s what you should know about it...

Safety and crime
By VoiceBox ·


Solomon is on a gap year after finishing school. He tutors in maths and English and plans to go to university in September.

What I think about nos

Please note: this article includes mature themes, including discussions of drug use.

As I was growing up, I liked hanging out with a large group of different friends and, more than once, I found myself in a situation where people were taking nos. I remember one particular party where I could hear balloons inflating with gas every 30 seconds.

While this doesn't happen at every party - at least not the ones I go to - nos is as socially common as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Don’t get me wrong - all three of those are harmful. But nos can do serious damage to you instantly, even if you only try it once.

My memories of nos-filled parties include some grim details. I knew several people that were hospitalised because of nos use. Some of them had trouble breathing. Others were left with chest pains. Once, someone I knew seriously damaged their mouth trying to inhale directly through a canister. And those are just my friends.

As I got older, nos wasn’t just something I saw people taking - I began to notice more and more people selling it too. It completely changed my idea of what drug dealing was, hearing that boys were selling boxes of canisters all over school like it was totally ordinary. Normalising something like nos can be really risky. If nos is readily available from people you know, it can make it seem a lot safer.

Despite the horror stories, I knew many people who took it regularly or sold it and were totally healthy. I obviously couldn't tell what was going on inside, but on the outside they seemed like people enjoying a drug that made them feel light and happy.

I saw it as a normal part of the way some people socialised - if you need an extra canister or a spare balloon, you know you’ll have someone there to set you up. That interaction was always something I liked about groups that took nos - it created a friendly environment based on common interest.

I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other about ever taking nos. Statistically, most people who take it are fine. But the stakes are high. You’ll probably experience a short, fun feeling and enjoy doing it with others - but you might do some serious damage to yourself. Every single time you breathe in a balloon, you’re flipping a coin.

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How dangerous is nos?

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