Nitrous Oxide Also known as Noz, Hippie crack which can cause euphoria and fits of laughter.
This was on my road, and five days later, it's still there and I wonder if I should go and sweep it up as its environmental nightmare, right next to a drain on the road!
Let's start with side effect... Potential fainting, it can apparently affect your levels of vitamin B12 , causing anemia, can damage nerves in hands and feet causing pain when walking, long term it has been said it can damage the spine. It can also cause burns due to the cold when inhaled, breathing problems and memory loss, we may not know the long term effects yet.
Between 2010 and 2016 there were 25 deaths linked to use of this so called harmless drug.
During the pandemic it has apparently taken off and police have spoke on finding groups of young people using during the lockdowns, in some ways it makes sense, here we are in this incredibly serious time in the world with more fear than has been felt in many years and people are reaching for something that makes them laugh! Laughter triggers endorphins, our bodies natural feel good chemical, when people are scared, they want to feel better, when there is no support, and for some depending on their life experiences ,family life or resilience will often, reach for something to feel better.
Saying that we could all have done with a laugh during that time and it's understandable in many ways more people than ever have been engaging in this risky behaviour! That does not mean I endorse or agree with it, all im saying is, when people are not supported, they will look to feel better, it's a natural human response, some have the ability to make healthier choices and some don't.
The feelings of hopelessness that came during particularly the third lock down in the UK was immense, the lack of clear guidance.
As humans we need some sense of knowing where we are heading and why, a plan of sorts. there was nothing to laugh about, christmas was promised, people made plans ,were able to shop, only recently, prepared for some time with family.
Saying that we also wondered if the government were doing the right thing but were reassured this would go ahead, I know in my family we had booked an Airbnb, were ready to travel and to have a responsible christmas with windows open and as much outdoor time as possible, food was bought by the other family members, presents bought, 5 days before, we were told, NO! this was devastating , you had people across the country waiting for family members, some bought food, others taking food and presents and suddenly we had 24 hours to get food, and hanker down alone! people did not get presents, some were alone in flats... the thing here was the disappointment, disappointment is painful, it is a difficult emotion for us as humans, we don't do it well! it feels out of control and we like to feel or imagine we have some control! the sadness was palpable! you could feel this awful sense that for some christmas brings a time to stop together to reflect to just be. I realise also there are some who find christmas a hard time, it can be a very lonely time, but last year I imagine was accentuated by what happened.
Laughter is so important to us as humans, and this drug induced laughter! I find myself thinking , yup, i'm not surprised, but I also find myself thinking, this is yet another cost of these inforced lockdowns because people were abandoned, left with their difficult feelings. what could we have done better?How can we educate people to reach for more sustaining ways to feel better. I'm not naive enough to know drugs are often experimental and converging force, allowing for some form of connection.
what is self medicating?
You might turn to alcohol or drugs if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or fearful.
Many people, have used substances to cope with occasional bad news, such as the loss of a job, a death or a breakup of a relationship etc.
If you find yourself regularly drinking or using drugs to cope with stress, relieve boredom, ( often the only reason young people might indulge) improve how you feel, or be present at a social engagement, for example, then there’s a strong possibility you’re self-medicating. I live in hope people can find ways to cope better and to laugh naturally and be more resilient. I do personally believe therapy can help people come back to their true selves.
Resilience is something that can erode during times of high stress or after many difficult events in a row, such as this pandemic, disappointments, the unknown, deaths, fear and losses of jobs, ideas, dreams and hopes. Some people have less or no resilience due to their upbringing, their life experiences or a serious trauma in the past. It would be good to see the government offering well funded support programs helping people become more resilient, in different ways, around food, behaviours and supporting selves and others.