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The Rife Team

How Can Laughing Be Bad For You?

Credit: Jon Aitken

Credit: Jon Aitken

Adibah sets out to find all you need to know about nos, how to stay safe and whether it’s even worth all the fuss. Surely laughing can’t be bad for you.

Nos, or laughing gas (or ‘hippy crack’ if you’re in St Andrews park) has been gaining more and more popularity in Bristol. Probably because it’s legal to use (but not to sell, FYI).  It seems like no matter where I go, whether it be a festival, the club or just to the park, people are inhaling on those balloons. With all this buzz about nos being the new ‘party drug’, I started thinking, are there any long term effects of using it or is it just a couple of seconds of fun that we shouldn’t worry about?

I did some research (:ahem: on websites, not in the park. I swear.)

What is nos?

Well its fancy name is nitrous oxide… it’s laughing gas and it’s often used during labour and in the dentist chair to dull pain. You might remember this kid who came back from the dentist?


He was VERY high on hippy crack.

Nos is mostly inhaled through the mouth. It’s a pressurised gas in a canister and can be dangerous because when you inhale it, it starves your body of oxygen.  So instead, people do it in balloons so it’s less dangerous, and the effects last longer.

Here’s a beautiful example of how its done…


So what does nos actually do to you, I hear you ask…


Hard to think straight


Fits of laughter (definitely been there…)


Sound distortions or hallucinations/euphoria 

And a little unstable

The short-term effects are very clear, but what about long term? Sure, when on you’re on nos, you’re feeling great, but can nos be as dangerous as any other drug?

Well this is what I found…

Nos can cause dizziness or  affect your judgement, which might make you act carelessly and put you at risk of hurting yourself.

Can cause unconsciousness or death from lack of oxygen. This occurs when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide. The risk is greater if the gas is consumed in an enclosed space.

Pretty heavy stuff. Mixing nitrous oxide with alcohol is especially dangerous as it can increase the risks associated with both substances and can lead to an increased risk of accidents such as head injuries.

Nos use can cause harm and even death BUT most problems result from the dangerous ways you use it and not the drug itself (phew – I bet you wish I opened with that, right?). Here’s a couple tricks to avoid being the one faced down in the ground.

  • Don’t inhale nos directly from a gas canister or whippet (you may think you look like a badass, but trust me, you really don’t).
  • It is safest to get comfortable on a sofa or bed as this prevents you falling over.
  • Also make sure you are with friends in case you experience any problems.

If you are thinking of taking nos and worried about its effects or you just fancy finding out more, check out FRANK’s page on nitrous oxide or head to Bristol Drugs Project

 What do you think? Is nos dangerous, or just a bit of fun? As always let us know on Twitter @rifemag