Posted on 17 June 2016
According to the latest Global Drug Survey, nitrous oxide – or laughing gas – is now the seventh most popular drug in the 50 countries surveyed. Just over half the UK respondents said they had tried the drug at some point, and 38% said they had used it in the last year, making it more popular in the UK than any other country.
Nitrous oxide is a colourless, sweet tasting gas that has been used recreationally since the late 18th century, most notably by Sir Humphry Davy, former president of the Royal Society. Medical use was established in the early 20th century and nitrous oxide remains an important anaesthetic, tranquillizer and painkiller, used by dentists, obstetricians and sports doctors. Indeed, many members of the public will have experienced the effects of nitrous oxide themselves without realising it.
The popularity of recreational use of nitrous oxide is unsurprising. It’s legal in many parts of the world, it’s cheap and it reliably produces a short-lasting euphoria as well as heightened senses and a slight feeling of disconnect from the body and is often used as a drug at concerts, nightclubs and festivals.