October 31


Nitrogen Narcosis

By Leslie ONeill

October 31, 2013

Nitrogen Narcosis 

Nitrogen narcosis



Nitrogen dissolving in the blood at an elevated pace due to the increased pressure at depth, typically seventy to one hundred feet deep (70 – 100′).


An alteration in consciousness, impaired judgement of assessment/perception, comparable to an instant high, under the influence of alcohol, intoxication or nitrous oxide inhalation causing alteration in consciousness, temporary decline or loss of senses and movement.


Ascend to a shallower depth, it will dissipate as quickly as it began.


Divers slang for Nitrogen Narcosis: Being “Narced”, “Rapture of the Deep” & “Martini Effect”


During training we discuss “decompression sickness” The divers term for “Decompression Sickness”: “Bends” or being “Bent” Both Nitrogen Narcosis and Decompression Sickness involves “nitrogen” yet, getting  “Bent” is a far more serious than being “Narced” and is caused by an over-saturation on nitrogen over a period of time.

If  you become “narced”, no worries, it is not an issue. It is only a rush of nitrogen, the remedy is simple, ascend to a shallower depth, it will immediately go away and there are no after-effects. 

Divers may learn to cope with the effects of narcosis, but it is impossible to develop a tolerance. Divers susceptibility varies widely from dive to dive, and between individuals.

If your buddy is chasing an octopus or kissing lobsters, your assumption that he or she is “narced”, is most likely correct. There is no need to go to the surface, yet you may want to assist your buddy to a shallower depth and resume your pleasure dive.

At he end of every dive, BC’s should be fully deflated no shallower than thirty feet (30′), as you slowly ascend no faster than 60 feet per minute or one foot per second (easiest timing method- stay below your bubbles).

As always, we stop at fifteen feet (15′) below the surface after every dive for a three minute (3 min) safety stop prior to coming to the surface.

Diving beyond the recreational limits of 130 ft, requires special training as nitrox and oxygen toxicity become critical factors. Once you learn to use various gas mixtures such as trimix or heliox, you may go deeper and or stay longer.

Happy Diving!


Leslie ONeill

About the author

Leave a Repl​​​​​y

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Direct Your Visitors to a Clear Action at the Bottom of the Page