Citation: neurodegenerate. "Addiction and Neurological Disability: An Experience with Nitrous Oxide (exp101947)". Erowid.org. Mar 8, 2016. erowid.org/exp/101947
I am submitting the following report, to describe my complex story of addiction and eventual illness due to Nitrous Oxide abuse, as briefly as possible, but it's still a novel. Although similar problems have been reported after short-term use, this is mainly an advisory to heavy users, and anyone who has tendencies toward addiction. Addiction to Nitrous Oxide can be as powerful as anything I've experienced, and I've done it all, and potentially WORSE than other addictive substances as far as one's personal health is concerned.
I first experimented with N2O in my twenties, buying the occasional pack of 24 whippets or so, sometime sharing it with others. Later on in life I moved out of my hometown and was at loss for any source of mind altering drugs, so I turned to whippets as a source of 'fun'.
During a period of about 2 years I went from casual, to heavy, to uncontrollable daily usage -- up to 5-10 packs of 24 per day. They knew me at all the shops, and I was even banned from coming more than once a day to one in particular. I was their best customer. I used them before work, during work, after work. When I could not get them I would lay in bed until more money came in. Eventually I lost my job, unable to focus on my work. That's when it went from bad to extremely bad. I borrowed money and spent it all on nitrous and take out food. I would overdraw my bank account up to the limit of $1000, and then borrow money from family blaming the loss on 'bills'. I would lie and cheat my way to get more money for my chargers. I estimate the total cost was in the range of $20,000. I never robbed anyone directly to get money, but the manipulation was perhaps worse 'karma' than robbing a bank. I tried to look for a new job, but all the while coming into interviews with a fogged up brain and poor attitude, I accomplished NOTHING during this period, not even a drawing, poem or simple song.
The health problems started as a numbness & tingling in the feet.
The health problems started as a numbness & tingling in the feet.
This was while I was still employed, I blamed it on the cold A/C. Once jobless this tingling slowly ascended to my upper legs, I found myself using the wall to stay balanced. My leg muscles slowly became more numb, weak and stiff. One day I was on my way to get either groceries or more whippets, I stepped out of my house, and took a step down the curb, and fell down. One of the neighbors noticed and said I should see a chiropractor. I really didn't know what was happening to me.
After a week or so of stumbling around my apartment, I realized I couldn't drive and decided to call 911 for an ambulance. I was taken to the nearest hospital, where I was treated very harshly. They asked me about drug use, and I told them about the nitrous, the doctor took up rude attitude, the nurse asked me why I don't just drink and smoke pot like everyone else, and I checked out of the hospital after the head said I wouldn't be given my psych. meds if I was admitted (I was dependent on meds for depression and anxiety, but this is not related to my addiction, or the health problems, so I won't get into that other than stating the doctor was too stupid to realize that was NOT the problem). So I stumbled out of the hospital, and figured I could just walk home, it was just a couple blocks (dumbest idea ever). I fell hard on concrete about 3 times, eventually I reached a small grassy dip that I needed to walk past, I fell down again. This time I could not stand up at all. I phoned my only friend in town, luckily he was nearby. He helped me stand up and took me home.
I decided to take a big risk and drive all the way back to my hometown to get help from my family. My normally uncompassionate father realized the gravity of the situation and took me to the local hospital. There I was treated with care, given my meds, and after the blood testing it was revealed I had B-12 deficiency (pernicious anemia). The doctors explained that this was clearly caused by my nitrous habit. I was given a spinal tap which revealed no abnormalities, and treated with infusions of B-12. I left the hospital in a walker. I soon moved to using a cane, but was still quite unstable on my feet. I moved in with my parents. My main activity became outpatient drug rehab. I gained my ability to walk normally in about 8 months. About 4 years passed, nitrous free. I moved out of my parents house, and then...
I had become an alcoholic while living with my parents,, and became an active AA member. I never thought of nitrous and thought I had moved past it, then I moved out of the house and eventually got a car, to attend AA meetings, of course! One day I figured it wouldn't hurt to buy a pack of chargers one day, since I was so 'sober'. Well that was the beginning of the second cycle, during the course of two years I moved back to using as much nitrous as I could afford. My family was on to my habit, so I couldn't borrow money from them. I sold everything I had of any value, thousands of dollars of fine art prints, music gear, and various other valuables; all just for nitrous. I estimate the cost was about $10,000 this time. My feet began to feel numb again, I knew what was happening, but continued my nitrous abuse regardless. I never ended up in the hospital but saw the same neurologists that saw me the first time. The final word was 'stop using the nitrous and come back in three months, you should be better by then'. I got a set of carbon fiber braces that helped me walk without the dreaded 'slap foot' (drop foot). I spent a short time in physical rehabilitation, but they discharged me without even my regaining the ability to walk a straight line.
I am 6 months nitrous-free, thanks to a very compassionate psychologist (AA never worked, and NA was disturbingly crazy), who really drove home the point that I was damaging my body and brain, and not allowing my potential to manifest because of this habit. Every now and then I consider getting another pack of chargers, but remind myself of all the money lost, money I could have used to become SUCCESSFUL. I'm still not recovered and planning to make an appointment with the top neurologist in town to determine if I have permanent damage. I so want to stop being a 'patient', go out and do yoga, and DANCE AGAIN -- but I can't and this can clearly be traced to my habitual use of N2O.
I was recently arrested for DUI, I refused the roadside tests because I could not walk a straight line sober, unfortunately my condition will not serve as an excuse in court - I shamefully blew over the legal limit, but would have likely passed the sobriety check if not for my essential lack of balance. If you are prone to being a serious *explitive*-up in life don't let nitrous become part of your diet.
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