Happy Balloons Popular as Party Drug in Laos

Happy balloons being sold on the street in Vietnam (Photo: City Press Guide)

Nitrous oxide balloons have emerged as a popular new party drug at entertainment venues in Laos.

During a recent National Assembly Session, the new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security, Gen. Vilay Lakhamfong, said nitrous oxide is a popular new drug among partygoers in Laos.

Entertainment venues are the main providers of this illegal drug, allowing the use of so-called “happy balloons” full of nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects. The gas is consumed by discharging nitrous gas cartridges (“bulbs” or “whip its”) into balloons, from which the gas can then be inhaled.

The effect of inhaling nitrous oxide is a rapid rush of euphoria and a feeling of excitement for a short period of time, according to Australia’s Alcohol and Drug Foundation.

Gen. Vilay stated that while it is the Ministry’s responsibility to monitor illegal activity, another government agency is in charge of regulation.

The Ministry acknowledged that nitrous oxide balloons exist and are frequently used.

Regular use of nitrous oxide can create health problems including a vitamin b12 deficiency.

The Lao government declared drug prevention and control a national agenda in May 2021, calling for decisive action and the participation of multiple sectors to combat the narcotics threat.