Citation: Nitroman. "How Nitrous Almost Killed Me: An Experience with Nitrous Oxide (exp87295)". Erowid.org. Sep 21, 2010. erowid.org/exp/87295
I discovered nitrous when I was very young, for a medical procedure I needed when I was about 12 years old. I was very nervous to inhale the gas even though the doctors assured me I would be fine. And fine I was - I absolutely loved it and never forgot the feeling. It was euphoria like I had never experienced, along with visual and auditory hallucinations. It didn't make me an addict at the time, but it definitely set the ball in motion for later on in life because of the fact that I now knew I loved it, and that it must have been safe, because doctors used it.
By the time I discovered nitrous in a recreational setting I was 25 years old and had just moved to San Francisco. By this stage I had been dependent on pot for over 2 years and had tried to quit the marijuana use many many times without success. The only thing I can thank nitrous for was for breaking my addiction to marijuana. As soon as I discovered I could buy nitrous in smoke shops in San Francisco and around the bay area, I was infatuated with it to the extent that I didn't even care about pot anymore - I was attached to being unattached - this was the nitrous experience.
It all started one night at my friends house (call him 'B') who lived in the mission district of San Francisco. We were smoking pot and I saw a whipped cream dispenser lying on his couch with a bunch of spent whip-it canisters lying around the place. 'Is that nitrous?!' I excitedly asked, to which B replied 'yes.'
'Ohhh I want a go!' I said, and I sat down and started to huff. I absolutely loved it. I would do about 5 or 6 canisters back to back and completely trip out. All kinds of vivid hallucinations happened, and when I woke back up I would explain at the time that it was like I was opening my eyes up for the very first time. I also remember explaining to B that I was having 'intellectual orgasms' and other inexplicable phenomena. I felt as though I was contacting a higher plane of existence, I felt as though I was conversing with God.
At the beginning, I loved the drug. I would buy hundreds of whip-its a day and go home from work at lunch and huff a good 50-100 whip-its. After work I'd do another 100 or so. I was averaging 200 whip-its a day. Not a day went by after I was introduced that I didn't huff. I was completely enthralled with my new addiction. In my mind it was completely safe 'because doctors gave it to me' and I justified it to myself as something that was harmless and recreational.
I didn't even realize how quickly I was losing my grip on reality. A friend at work gave me music to listen to, and I listened to it while huffing nitrous. I was convinced he gave me the music because he huffed while listening to it also. (This was not the case - he didn't use drugs, he just liked dance music). By two weeks into my new addiction my mostly positive nitrous experiences started turning really, really bad. First of all, the intensity of the hallucinations started getting out of hand. I believe this was probably because my brain chemistry was partly destroyed by this stage from all of the inhalant abuse. Secondly, whenever I would huff I would hear the same audio loop playing in my head - I could not hear what it was saying at first, but eventually I could hear it loud and clear - it was telling me to kill myself - not just audibly - but it was communicating to me on all kinds of different planes of existence. The communications were so strong they were downright convincing - I was starting to believe what the nitrous was telling me over what my senses told me in the real world.
Because my physical tolerance to the nitrous had increased so much over the course of my use, I had to consume a lot more whip-its to get the same kind of effect. This is where it got to be really dangerous. 6 whip-its (huffed back to back) at the beginning of my use was enough to send me to the stratosphere - by this stage I could huff 10 of them back to back and barely get an effect. So it was taking me 12-15 whip-its - about 30-35 breaths to which I would hold at the top - which translated to me starving my brain of oxygen for literally minutes. [Erowid Note: See Nitrous Oxide Health page for details.]
Needless to say, I'd eventually pass out, and when I (luckily) woke up I was in different positions, sometimes on the floor, sometimes I was seizing - sometimes I had bumped into things and bruised myself - but more importantly - I was totally out of it because I was starving my brain for so long and then doing it again and again. I was kicking my body while it was down, so to speak. By the end of this physical torture (which was signified by the point in which I had ran out of whip-its) I would fall into a deep and dangerous depression for about half an hour - a depression that was lower than I had ever felt before.
It got to the point where I would start dreading the inevitable depression as I got towards the end of my last box of whip-its. I didn't know what to do with myself after the drugs had run out. The voice in my head telling me to kill myself started to never go away - even when I was not actively huffing. I got so suicidal at one point that I was going to throw myself off a parking structure. In a state of panic I called 911 to come and get me before I did it (I didn't want to die, I just felt so compelled to kill myself because the voice was telling me to do so) and at this point I was taken to the hospital and placed on psychiatric hold. A few hours later I was craving the nitrous again, and I convinced the doctors I was OK and they let me go. I took a taxi right back to the store that sold the nitrous and bought another 100 whip-its.
I was huffing at home that evening and while watching the TV I got this amplified feeling that something terrible was about to happen. As I kept huffing, I felt this massive feeling well up inside of me that this massive event was about to occur, but there was no point in getting out of the way or running, because I was powerless over it and it was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. It was kind of like the first time you go on a scary roller coaster, and your anxiety is peaking as you slowly near the top of the first fall. You want to get off so badly, but you know it's too late. Amplify this feeling 100 times and you might have what I experienced. The voice was still playing in my head, louder than ever, it was a mixture of a feeling telling me I was going to die soon, that I should kill myself soon, and some other muddled sounds that I couldn't quite make out.
On the TV there was an episode of 'Top Gear' with two cars racing to the peak of a hill. I kept huffing, so addicted that I couldn't stop even for a breath of air, even though I knew bad things were happening and about to happen. All of a sudden it became too much. The voice in my head became clear, and it was in perfect synchronization of the audio on the TV. I had never seen this episode of 'Top Gear' before (nor do I ever watch that show) but the voice in the back of my head that had been repeating for the past few days started speaking in tune with the TV (which was impossible since it was content I had never seen). All of a sudden my left hand curled up into a ball and I could feel a sharp pain in the palm of my hand, kind of like the pain that occurs when you hit your funny bone really hard against something. Mentally, I had reached my breaking point. Something inside of me made me call a friend I worked with who used to have a drug problem - I knew he would understand to some extent what was happening.
As I waited for him to arrive I kept huffing. He showed up (call him 'O') and saw the mess that had become my life. Thousands of empty steel whip-its all over the floor - whip-it boxes, trash bins full of the things - all over my furniture and bed, in every room of the apartment. He took the nitrous from me right away and said I was going to kill myself if I didn't stop. The post-nitrous depression hit me like a tonne of bricks, but worse than ever this time. I cried and cried. I had gone from an every day pot-head to an all out inhalant abuser in 4 weeks flat. I had spent $100 a day on whip-its for the last 4 weeks - roughly $3000 spent on destroying my brain cells, and luckily not killing myself.
'O' took me to the chemical dependency unit of my health carrier to get me checked into a rehab. Because of my bipolar disorder dual diagnosis, it took 2 days to find a rehab that would take me. So the following night, when I had no nitrous and nothing but myself to keep me company, I hit a new low. Knowing I didn't want to kill myself, I started cutting myself to ease the pain I was feeling from my unstable mind and bipolar disorder exacerbated by the inhalant abuse. I took a pocket knife to both arms and both legs, totaling about 150 precise parallel cuts deep enough to draw blood and bring me relief. I had never cut myself before that night.
I got into rehab the next day. My brain was so fried I couldn't even read the material they gave me or remember the date as I wrote one check after another for my financial obligations over the next month. My brain was operating extremely slowly, and my vocabulary was terrible - I could not remember the words I wanted to use as I spoke sentences.
I'd love to say this was the point where things got better for me, but it has been a long struggle from this point to get better. In summary:
-I escaped rehab after 10 days to get nitrous.
-I was let back into rehab, but left 9 days later because I was sick of treatment. The day after I left I relapsed on nitrous in my apartment.
-I moved into a half-way house determined to quit. I relapsed on nitrous 10 days later.
-I started going to some Alcoholics Anonymous meetings determined to kick the habit. I relapsed on nitrous 36 days later.
-I had to do something different - determined to kick the habit this time, I pledged to go to an AA meeting every day to avoid relapse. I relapsed 91 days later.
That last relapse was yesterday. I don't know what is going to happen to me, but I'm going to keep going to meetings to try and beat this. I have met a lot of good friends at AA, and they are cool people - they are like me in the sense that they used to like to get fucked up too. They just came to realize that if they kept behaving like this, they were going to die.
In conclusion, I have come to realize that drugs don't mix well with me because:
(a) I have bipolar disorder, and
(b) I have an addictive personality
No one could have told me this. I had to go through this to figure it out. But it could have killed me. I'm happy to be alive today, and I'm happy to get another shot at sobriety. I don't think drugs are stupid, I don't hate on people that drink and do drugs. Personally, I love alcohol and drugs. The problem is that I love alcohol and drugs too much - I love them so much I can't stop doing them when I start. So it's time for me to make a decision for my life, for my friends, for my family - before it's too late. I have come close enough for my liking to a tragic ending.
I hope this post helps someone. Even if it only helps one person, if it means they don't have to go through what I went through, it was worth it.
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