(nos, balloons, laughing gas)

Nitrous Oxide is a dissociative drug that is usually inhaled from a balloon. Nitrous Oxide has been used recreationally for over 200 years. The gas comes in small metal canisters which are put in a ‘cracker’ or a whipped cream dispenser so the contents can be released into a balloon.

Effects | Dosage | Advice | Support


The effects of Nitrous Oxide take just a few seconds to kick in and will last from 1 – 5 minutes.

  • Dizziness
  • Euphoria
  • Giggles
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Tight chest
  • Headache


A normal dose of Nitrous Oxide is one 8g canister dispensed into a balloon. Some heavier users will dispense two canisters into the same balloon but this increases the risk substantially. The effects of Nitrous Oxide are so short lived that it’s common to do multiple balloons in a session.

Harm Reduction Advice

  • Always dispense Nitrous Oxide into a balloon. Using it straight from a whipped cream dispenser will put you at risk of lung and throat damage because the gas being released is so cold.
  • Don’t keep re-breathing a balloon for a long time. After you’ve inhaled from a balloon a few times there won’t be any Nitrous Oxide left and you’re simply starving your brain of oxygen. Not many people have died from Nitrous Oxide but when they have, it’s as a result of oxygen deprivation.
  • Use Nitrous Oxide sitting down to avoid falls/accidents caused by the lack of coordination that you’ll likely experience.
  • Avoid using too Nitrous Oxide too often. Chronic use can cause Vitamin B12 deficiency which in turn can have a negative effect on mood and memory.
  • Be mindful that Nitrous Oxide will make the effects of other drugs stronger, particularly psychedelics. Make sure you’re in the right mind-set and a safe environment.
  • If someone collapses or becomes unresponsive after taking Nitrous Oxide, seek immediate medical attention. You will not get in trouble for doing this.
  • Dispose of used canisters properly- they can be recycled.

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Image Credit: Dominic Milton Trott