Nitrous Oxide: Mental effects

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:15 pm

Nitrous oxide depresses the central nervous system (CNS). It also affects the activity of neurotransmitters — the CNS chemicals that enable nerve impulses, or signals, to travel from neuron to neuron and regulate thought processes, behavior, and emotion. Once inhaled, it enters the lungs and is carried through the body via the bloodstream. Users experience an immediate feeling of giddiness (not unlike alcohol intoxication), a “floating” and disconnected sensation, dizziness, mental confusion, and slurred speech. In strong enough concentrations, N20 can cause also short-term memory loss (dissociative amnesia).
Psychological dependence on nitrous oxide can lead users to try riskier and often fatal methods of increasing their intake of the drug, such as filling garbage bags with the gas and putting them over their heads. Memory loss, difficulties with work or school, learning problems, and preoccupation with obtaining the drug are all common features of psychological dependence.

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