Highly varied class that includes ether, chloroform, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), desflurane (Suprane®), enflurane (Ethrane®), halothane (Fluothane®), isoflurane (Forane®), propofol (Diprivan®) and sevoflurane (Sevorane®).
Central nervous system depressant:
|Mechanism of action|
|Routes of administration|
Effects sought out by the user
The effects are similar to those of alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. However, they come on much more quickly and are brief. Their effects vary depending on the individual, the product and amount inhaled and how it is inhaled:
- Euphoria (with regards to nitrous oxide, euphoria is often accompanied by laughing, hence the nickname "laughing gas")
- Loss of inhibition
- Transient stimulation followed by drowsiness that occasionally results in a semi-conscious state.
Common toxic effects and caused by high doses
- Aggressive behaviour
- Generalized muscle weakness
- Irrational behaviour
- Significantly impaired judgement
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated movements
Toxic effects resulting from overdose
- Cardiac arrest
- Decreased heartbeats
- Irregular heart rate
- Respiratory depression
Effects associated with chronic useNitrous oxide:
- Ataxia (uncoordinated movements)
- Bone marrow depression (blood disorders)
- Paranoid delusions
- Peripheral polyneuropathy (numbness, paralysis) that is reversible when the user quits
- Visual hallucinations
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Weakened immune system
Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)
Psychological dependence affects only 3.7% of those who experiment with these substances.
Does not appear to be associated with any withdrawal syndrome. However, certain symptoms may occur when a substance is discontinued:
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling of weightlessness
- Sleep disorders
Onset and duration of action
|Route of |
|Onset of |
|Peak||Duration of |
|Intrapulmonary (inhaled)||Almost immediate||N/A||About 15 minutes after stopping inhalation. Residual effects may persist for 1 to 2 hours.|
- No antidote available.
- Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.
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