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article imageWarning over 'laughing gas' drug craze

By Tim Sandle     Aug 10, 2014 in Health
London - A health warning has been issued across the U.K., via local authorities, about the dangers of inhaling "laughing gas." The gas — mostly used in medicine — has become a popular recreational drug, known for its relaxing effects.
Laughing gas is nitrous oxide, a chemical compound. At room temperature, it is a colourless, non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odour and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anaesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as "laughing gas" due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use.
Inhalation of nitrous oxide for recreational use, with the purpose of causing euphoria and/or slight hallucinations has been growing in popularity in several countries, to the extent that the British government has become concerned enough to issue a health warning.
According to The Guardian, nitrous oxide is used by almost half a million young people at nightspots, festivals and parties. Commonly, the gas is inhaled by users in a balloon.
The problem is that the drug can cause analgesia, depersonalisation, derealisation, dizziness, euphoria, and some sound distortion. At present, taking the gas is not illegal in the U.K. The same applies to the U.S., where possession of nitrous oxide is legal under federal law and is not subject to DEA purview.
Commenting on the new warning, Katie Hall, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's community wellbeing board, to the BBC: "It is deeply disturbing that this drug, which can be highly dangerous, is still widely viewed as safe. It is imperative that users understand just how harmful it can be. This gas can kill - and much more needs to be done to get this message across."
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