Nitrous Oxide Use on the Rise in the UK: What You Need to Know

12:42 30 October in News

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas”, is a colourless, odourless gas used primarily as a medical anaesthetic and a propellant in whipped cream dispensers. However, it has become increasingly popular as a recreational drug in recent years, particularly among young people. According to recent studies, nitrous oxide use has increased significantly in the UK, raising concerns on its health and safety impacts.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the key facts about nitrous oxide use and its effects, along with strategies for preventing and managing its usage in the workplace.

Facts about Nitrous Oxide Use:

    1. Nitrous oxide is legal to possess and use, but its sale and distribution can be restricted under the Psychoactive Substances Act in the UK.
    2. The effects of nitrous oxide are typically short-term, lasting for a few minutes, and include a sense of euphoria, relaxation, and detachment from reality.
    3. Nitrous oxide can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and in some cases, unconsciousness, or even death, if used in large quantities or in combination with other drugs.
    4. Nitrous oxide can cause long-term damage to the nervous system, including numbness, tingling sensations, and other neurological symptoms.
    5. Nitrous oxide abuse can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause significant health issues, including nerve damage, anaemia, and depression.

Preventing and Managing Nitrous Oxide Usage in the Workplace:

    1. Educate Employees: Employers should educate their employees about the health and safety risks associated with nitrous oxide use, including its short and long-term effects and the importance of avoiding recreational drug use.
    2. Develop and Enforce Substance Abuse Policies: Employers should have clear policies outlining consequences for drug use in the workplace, including drug testing requirements and disciplinary measures.
    3. Drug Testing: Regular drug testing can help identify employees who may be using drugs, including nitrous oxide. Employers can use a variety of drug testing methods, including urine or saliva tests.
    4. Encourage Help-Seeking: Employers can offer confidential counselling services and resources for employees struggling with addiction or substance abuse. Encouraging help-seeking can reduce stigma and improve outcomes.


Nitrous oxide use is a growing concern in the UK, and it is crucial for employers to take proactive measures to prevent and manage its usage in the workplace. By educating employees, developing and enforcing substance abuse policies, conducting regular drug testing, and encouraging help-seeking, employers can help mitigate the risks associated with drug use, including nitrous oxide.

As a leading provider of drug and alcohol testing services, Screen4 is committed to helping businesses reduce the risk of drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace. Our comprehensive drug and alcohol testing solutions can help companies ensure a safe and productive working environment.

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