The Dangers of Whippits (Nitrous Oxide)

The Dangers of Whippits Nitrous Oxide

Whippits are a type of inhalant drug, like permanent markers, and air-cleaner cans, that people huff to get an instant and short high. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is more widely known as ‘laughing gas’ due to how relaxed and exuberant it can make you feel. Don’t let the funny name fool you, though: whippits are not harmless and can cause serious harm to your health and well-being.

This article explores the dangers of whippits and why you should think twice before trying them. We will also share some resources and tips on how to get help if you or someone you know is hooked on using whippits. There are many dangerous side effects and potentially permanent damage that continual use of whippets can cause your body, not to mention the emotional and mental toll that addiction takes on anyone. Whippits are not worth the risk.

If you or a loved one are dealing with addiction to inhalants or any other substance, reach out to our New Jersey mental health and substance abuse rehab today! We can help.

What Are Whippits And Why Are They Popular?

Whippits, also called whippets or whip-its, are small metal canisters filled with nitrous oxide, a gas that is used for medical purposes like anesthesia or sedation. Some people use whippits by inhaling the gas directly from the canister or by filling a balloon or a plastic bag with the gas and inhaling in short huffs. Inhaling nitrous oxide can make you feel a tingling sensation, a sense of dizziness, calmness, or euphoria, but your speech may become slurred and incomprehensible, and you may notice a sudden loss of coordination. The effects of whippits are very short-lived, usually lasting less than a few minutes.

Whippets are popular among some teens and young adults because they are cheap and easy to get. They can easily be found in whipped cream dispensers or bought online or in certain stores. Whippits are not illegal to buy or sell, but they are illegal to use for recreational purposes. Some people may think that the use of whippits in medicine makes them safe for personal fun times, but that is not true.

What are Inhalants?

These are a classification of products that can be easily purchased and located in the home or workplace that can be inhaled to produce mind-altering effects. A few examples of inhalants are spray paints, permanent markers, glues, whipped cream, and cleaning fluids.

Whippet Addiction Statistics

Whippet addiction is a serious problem that often slides under the radar and isn’t taken seriously by many people. Whippets can be easily concealed, and unless one looks closely at the metal canisters, they can be mistaken for the same metal canisters that hold carbon dioxide (CO2) that are used in airsoft guns to shoot BBs.

A few statistics on whippet addiction for 2021-2024 are:

  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), whippets are the most popular recreational inhalant drug in the US, with more than 12 million users having tried them at least once.
  • SAMHSA also reported that adolescents aged 12 to 17 were more likely than adults aged 18 or older to have used whippets in the past year to get high (2.7% vs. 0.4%).
  • A 2018 UK study found that 27.9% of 18-25-year-olds had used whippets at least once, and 7.1% had used them within the past month.
  • A 2023 report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated that about 107,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2021 and that whippets were involved in 3.2% of those deaths.

How Do Whippits Affect Your Brain And Body?

danger of whippits

Despite their use in medicine, whippits are not harmless. Prolonged use can be very dangerous and harmful to your health and well-being. Whippits can cause:

  • Oxygen deprivation. Huffing nitrous oxide prevents your brain from receiving enough oxygen, and this will lead to brain damage, coma, or death. Even just a few minutes without oxygen can cause your brain to suffer lasting and permanent damage that could render you a vegetable or incapable of taking care of yourself again.
  • Frostbite. The gas in whippits is very cold and can freeze your mouth, nose, throat, or lungs, which can cause tissue damage, infection, or bleeding.
  • Nerve damage. Whippits can damage your nerves and cause numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your limbs and other parts of your body.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency. Whippits can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12, which is essential for your nervous system and blood cells. This can cause anemia, fatigue, memory loss, depression, or nerve disorders.
  • Addiction. Whippits can be addictive and make you crave more of the drug, and this can lead to tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms. Whippit addiction can negatively impact your mental health, relationships, academic life, professional life, and finances.

What Are The Short-Term And Long-Term Risks Of Whippit Abuse?

Whippit abuse can have serious and harmful effects on your brain and body, both in the short term and the long term. Here are some of the risks of whippit abuse:

Short-term risks:

  • Dizziness, loss of motor control, and unconsciousness
  • Oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage, coma, or death
  • Frostbite, which can cause tissue damage, infection, or bleeding
  • Nausea, vomiting, headache, and confusion
  • Drug interactions, which can increase the risk of overdose or adverse reactions

Long-term risks:

  • Nerve damage, which can result in numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can affect your nervous system and blood cells
  • Anemia, fatigue, memory loss, depression, or nerve disorders
  • Addiction, which can affect your mental health, relationships, school, work, and finances
  • Heart failure, which can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or cardiac arrest
  • Damage to your bone marrow
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Stunted behavioral development (due to brain damage).
  • Numbness in hands and feet.
  • Psychosis.
  • Pregnancy dangers (like birth defects).

How Can Whippit Addiction Be Recognized And Treated?

Regular whippet users may be convinced that they do not have a whippet addiction just because they’ve never experienced serious repercussions from its repeated abuse. That feeling of joy and elation that accompanies each huff of N2O only lasts for a few fleeting moments. Using whippets recreationally is illegal, but possessing them is completely legal, and this greatly minimizes the legal risk.

Whippit abuse can be recognized by some signs and symptoms of addiction, such as:

  • Using whippits frequently or compulsively, even when it causes problems in your life
  • Craving whippits and feeling anxious or irritable without them
  • Spending a lot of time and money on obtaining and using whippits
  • Hiding or lying about your whippit use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using whippits, such as nausea, headache, fatigue, or depression
  • Having physical or mental health issues from whippit use, such as nerve damage, vitamin B12 deficiency, brain damage, or psychosis

The symptoms of whippit addiction may lay completely under the radar unless prolonged use occurs, though this doesn’t mean that infrequent use can be enjoyed with no danger. There have been recorded cases of people with no apparent substance use disorder (SUD) experiencing sudden sniffing death. Even young people in their peak of health and physical fitness can die from huffing whippits on their first dose.

Whippits, unlike other drugs, do not cause a physical dependence to develop in the user. They do contain many similar effects to other narcotics, such as sensation depression, alteration of brain functioning, and pain relief, no chemical present creates a physical dependency. Whippits instead cause psychological dependence, which some people argue is a worse form of drug dependence.

Psychological dependence to whippits can make you experience the following symptoms when attempting to quit:

  • Extreme agitation or mood alteration.
  • Craving getting your hands on the drug by any means necessary.
  • Continuous craving for the drug.
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression.

Withdrawal symptoms from whippits are not as serious as other drugs or substances. The main thing to remember is that the symptoms accompanying cessation of whippit huffing are all in your mind.

Whippit addiction can be treated with professional help and support, and these treatment options may include:

  • Detoxification. A process of safely removing whippits and other substances from your body under medical supervision.
  • Medication. Drugs that can help with withdrawal symptoms, cravings, or co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Therapy. Counseling sessions can help you understand and change your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to whippit addiction.
  • Support groups. Meetings with other people who have similar experiences and challenges with whippit addiction.
  • Aftercare. Ongoing services and resources that can help you maintain your recovery and prevent relapse.

Moving Mountains Offers Treatments For People Dealing With Inhalant/Whippit Addiction

inhalant addiction treatment center

If you or someone you love is struggling with whippit addiction, you may be looking for a way to get help and recover. Moving Mountains is a recovery center that offers treatments for people dealing with inhalant/whippit addiction. Our approach considers you as a whole, and in this regard, we offer a continuum of care, clinically proven treatments, and holistic healing.

We will work closely with you to determine your individual needs, streamline individualized treatments, and help you establish a foundation upon which your recovery–and the rest of your life–can grow. Moving Mountains can help you overcome whippit addiction and start living a healthier and happier life. So wait no longer – contact us today to get ahead of your addiction and receive the support and care that you need.

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