by Andrew Souret:

Noz has become a favorite drug for teenagers for a few years now. Slang for nitrous oxide, this drug is an inhalant that users inhale through balloons. According to police reports, teens in Anaheim and all over the valley have already used this drug.

Noz is found in large, pressurized gas tanks containing nitrous oxide and can be purchased at race car shops for between $50 and $100. The gas itself is commonly used to enhance engine performance. Other than a drug, it is also used for medical purposes by dentists as laughing gas to nullify any pain. However, teenagers are embracing this gas because disorientation, and visual hallucinations.

The effects of a noz high last 2 to 3 minutes. A commonly abused form of this gas is found in small, pressurized food preparation containers called “whip-its”. Users place the whip-it in a “cracker” and place it a balloon on one end of the cracker and turn it until the whip-it pops. This in turn releases the gas into the balloon. Whip-its and crackers can be bought online.

At high doses, noz can kill since it replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, weakens the central nervous system, and halts breathing. Long term abuse of this drug can damage the central nervous system and brain cells. People can also suffer loss of balance, dexterity, weakness and numbness in their extremities. Further harm includes spinal cord damage, vitamin B12/folic acid depletion, decreased fertility, decreased immunity to infections, bone marrow damage, and emotional and mental health problems.

Biology teacher Mrs. Green knows about the dangers of inhalants, she remembers a Kennedy student who was hospitalized for abusing an inhalant three years ago. “She was found in the girl’s bathroom by a group of girls. They noticed that the girl was not breathing and immediately sought out for help,” states Green. Fortunately, the girl survived the ordeal, but not without a price. “She suffered permanent brain damage and has to take Special Ed classes because of it,” Green explains. Using inhalants can “kill brain cells” as Green says, and if people abuse them, people will end up like that girl who made the mistake of using inhalants three years ago. “Don’t be around anyone who inhales these chemicals or give into any kind of peer pressure. Stay drug free”

It is illegal to buy anything related to nitrous oxide without a proper prescription. Possessing nitrous oxide or any drug in general, can lead to several years in prison. Not only can nitrous oxide impair physical health, but it can also ruin the futures of teenagers who abuse this drug. Teenagers are warned not to start using this drug as it can lead to severe consequences. As drug recognition expert Sgt. Steve Pena says, “This is one balloon that needs to be popped”.