A photo of "cream gas bombs" sold online
A new report in the Qianjiang Evening News is warning of the ease and availability for individuals to purchase Nitrous Oxide as a recreational drug.
Through undercover inquiries, a reporter from the news outlet was able to purchase four liters of Nitrous Oxide for 1,800 yuan (5).
Nitrous Oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is not a controlled substance in China.
The Qianjiang Evening News report has found that manufacturers only negotiate with buyers in terms of prices and delivery, and are not obligated to ask the buyer about the intended use of the gas.
Nitrous Oxide is also available online in the form of "cream gas bombs," which retail at just 40 yuan. The "bombs" are small steel cans which are filled with liquefied "laughing gas."
Inhaling the gas gives people a brief sense of euphoria.
However, over exposure to the gas can also cause long-term health problems, including a loss of motor control and the potential for strokes.
"Compared to traditional drugs, 'laughing gas' causes less physical addiction for inhalers. However, its rate of relapse is higher, which means the psychological addiction is hard to overcome," says Zhang Huifen, lab director with a Drug Treatment Center in Zhejiang Province.
Earlier this month, an article entitled "Finally I came back to home in a wheel chair" has been read over 100,000 times since being posted online.
In it, an overseas Chinese student studying in the US city of Seattle describes how "laughing gas" has ruined her both physically and scholastically.
Driven by stress and curiosity, the young woman became addicted to 'huffing.' But after using Nitrous Oxide for a year, she began to develop major problems, including muscle weakness and incontinence. She had to quit studying in Seattle and returned to China in a wheel chair.
Statistics indicate as many as 200 people a year in the United States die from over-exposure to laughing gas.