It's impossible to know how common recreational nitrous use is. Even though roughly 10 percent of teenagers try inhalants, there's no data that breaks that number down more precisely, so nitrous gets lumped in with huffing paint or gas or whatever else bored kids in Oklahoma are doing this week. But while nitrous is pretty forgiving on your body, it is powerfully addictive in the short term. One user we spoke with described it as:
"Forty seconds of absolute bliss. It's a little like being back inside the womb. And then it fades, and you want to feel that way again, so you take another and another. ... It's the potato chip of drugs."
"Bet you can't breathe just one."
And, like any fun substance, some percentage of users will develop a serious problem. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but this rehab center reports an increase in nitrous addicts over the last few years. Our source Amos actually went to Narcotics Anonymous with his nitrous problem -- but they weren't exactly prepared to deal with him:
"When I decided to go for treatment, some of the NA members who were recovering from hard drugs scoffed at me. Some, like my session leader, were supportive, but others just didn't consider my addiction real. One heroin addict even said to me after one meeting, 'We're real addicts here. Some of these people really need to talk it over, not you breathing in Reddi-Wip cans, man.' Even my sponsor said he thought I didn't have a 'serious' type of addiction."