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Use of nitrous oxide on rise in Britain

LONDON, July 25 (UPI) -- More than 350,000 young people in Britain used nitrous oxide as a recreational drug in the past year, figures from Britain's Home Office indicate.

The Home Office's annual crime survey found that 6 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds in England and Wales have used laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, as a drug within the past year, The Guardian reported.

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The gas, which is huffed out of balloons, causes users to laugh uncontrollably and hallucinate. It costs about $2.30 per hit and is technically legal.

However, marijuana is still the most popular drug among teenagers -- 13 percent of teens have used the drug in the past year.

The report also found that the use of illicit drugs has continued to decline. The number of adults who admitted any drug use in the past 12 months was 8.2 percent, down from an all-time high of 12.3 percent in 2003-2004. The number of teenagers who admitted to using drugs is down from 31 percent in 1998 to 16 percent this year.

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