Nitrous Oxide: Personal and social consequences

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:18 pm

Substance abusers become preoccupied with when and where they will be able to get their next dose. As drug use takes center stage in an abuse’s life, relationships with family and friends frequently deteriorate. Although nitrous oxide and other inhalants are known for their relatively low cost, an N20 abuser may suffer financial hardships as a result of unemployment, automobile accidents, or poor performance at school.
Chronic inhalant use is related to poor academic performance. According to the “National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 2000,” kids with a D average in school were three times more likely to have used inhalants in the prior 12 months than the A-average students surveyed.
Substance abuse in general is a far-reaching societal problem, impacting not only personal relationships and health but also contributing to crime, domestic violence, sexual assault, drop-out rates, unemployment, and homelessness. It is also a factor in public health problems, like the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy. Chronic inhalant abuse can lead to serious birth defects.
Inhalant abuse is a financial drain on society as well. Indian Health Services estimates a cost of $1.6 million to treat a young adult with a history of inhalant abuse and all its associated physical, mental, legal, occupational, and social problems. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) estimates that illegal drugs cost the U.S. economy $160 billion in the year 2000, an annual increase of 5.8% between 1998 and 2000. That estimate includes $14.8 billion in healthcare costs and $110.4 billion in lost productivity from drug-related illness, incarceration, and death.
The perception of inhalants as dangerous, harmful substances has risen among young people. In 2001, 76.4% of tenth graders said they thought regular inhalant abuse a “great risk” to the user. And socially, inhalants are becoming risky as well, with 91.3% of tenth graders strongly disapproving of regular inhalant use among their peers. This may be due in part an to anti-inhalant advertising campaign launched in the mid-1990s by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

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