Can you become addicted to oxygen use?

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Oxygen therapy is used to help treat people who have certain lung or heart conditions.

There are several different ways to deliver oxygen, and systems are portable – it is not required that you stay at a hospital to use oxygen. However, medical oxygen must be prescribed by a doctor, who can tell you how much oxygen you need per minute and for how long.

Addiction

Oxygen is a gas – and a necessary element for sustaining life – so it is not physically addictive. Because it can relieve symptoms like shortness of breath and give an individual more energy, better sleep or improved mood, a psychological or behavioral addiction to oxygen may develop, but the body cannot become physically addicted to the substance. Changing the rate or flow of oxygen in order to get "high" can be dangerous and even deadly.

Risks

Too much oxygen can make you drowsy and even cause lung damage. Mixing alcohol or drugs while using oxygen can also be dangerous, as these substances slow your breathing. It's also important to note that oxygen can cause a spark or flame to burn more quickly, so keep it away from sources of fire.

Health claims

For people with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), oxygen may be necessary during exercise, sleep or during air travel.

In recent years, oxygen bars have become popular. These establishments sell oxygen for recreational use, where patrons can pay to inhale a slightly higher level of oxygen than a normal atmospheric level. Aromatherapy scents like mint or lavender can be added to the oxygen.

Some alternative health practitioners claim that the human body is deprived of oxygen, but medical professionals warn that too much can be dangerous – especially for patients with respiratory diseases like asthma or emphysema.

Sources: WebMD, Medox

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