What Are Whippets?
Whippets, or nitrous oxide gas that people inhale to get high, is the same gas used by medical professionals, primarily dentists, for pain relief, but in a very different and dangerous way.
In medical settings, nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen to ensure patient safety, commonly called laughing gas. Car enthusiasts will sometimes use nitrous oxide to enhance their engine performance.
However, nitrous oxide gas has become a popular recreational drug in the United States because it is easy to obtain from grocery stores, auto part stores, and online retailers. Whippets’ drug prices are as low as a can of whipped cream from a local store.
Inhalant abuse, in general, is on the rise as part of the trend of users looking for “legal highs” from substances marketed for other uses and not outlawed yet.
What Are Whippets (Nitrous Oxide)?
Whippets are popular slang for nitrous oxide gas inhaled to get high and cause euphoric effects.
Other spellings and slang for nitrous oxide as an inhalant include:
- Hippy Crack
- Laughing gas
Users inhale the nitrous oxide directly from whipped cream dispensers or by emptying whipped cream chargers into a balloon and inhaling the gas from there. When users inhale nitrous oxide from whipped cream canisters directly, it can lead to injuries similar to frostbite. Filling up balloons with nitrous oxide makes the gas warmer and easier to inhale in more significant amounts.
What Is Huffing?
Huffing is slang for inhaling nitrous oxide or any chemical from a canister, balloon, paper, plastic bag, or rag.
What Do Whippets Do?
Whippets displace oxygen in the lungs and brain, causing immediate euphoric and dissociative effects that last for several minutes. The lack of oxygen in the brain and body slows down brain function and physical responses throughout the central nervous system, creating a high.
The high from whippets is different from other drugs because its effects are from depriving the body of oxygen instead of introducing a drug that chemically interacts with the brain and body by binding to different receptors. Regardless, abusing nitrous oxide is dangerous and can cause short-term and long-term effects and sometimes instant death from suffocation.
Whippets Side Effects
Whippet side effects are immediate and can outlast the pleasurable effects. People abusing nitrous oxide to get high are not regulating the amount they take in and will take frequent hits to maintain or reproduce the initial feelings. The more you inhale, the more side effects you’ll experience.
Short-term side effects of whippets include:
- Giggling or uncontrollable laughter
- Loss of coordination
- Reduced motor function
- Momentary loss of consciousness or blacking out
- Memory loss
- Gasping for air
- Chest pain
- Freezing feelings on the tongue, cheeks, and throat
- Numbness or tingling
- Slurred speech
- Facial numbness
To reiterate, inhaling nitrous oxide from whipped cream canisters or balloons is not the same as receiving it under controlled conditions from medical professionals. There is no such thing as safe substance abuse.
What Do Whippets Do Long-Term?
The long-term effects of whippets are severe. Even doing whippets once can result in permanent brain damage and death. Repeatedly abusing nitrous oxide increases the risk of developing lasting health problems.
Whippets cause oxygen deprivation to the brain, which can instantly cause seizures, coma, or death. Furthermore, it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12, resulting in brain and organ damage.
Whippet abuse can have a lot of long-term effects, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Chronic migraines
- Brain damage
- Hearing loss
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Esophagus and lung scarring
- Bone marrow damage
- Memory loss
- Twitching limbs and muscles
- Developmental disabilities
- Loss of balance
- Spinal column damage
- Full or partial paralysis
- Vision loss
- Nerve damage
- Heart attack
The brain damage caused by lack of oxygen and vitamin B12 to the brain is similar to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome or “wet brain found in binge drinkers and people with severe alcohol use disorders. It is often irreversible and can progress to the point of requiring life-long caretakers.
Recognizing whippet abuse can be challenging if you don’t witness someone using or while they’re still high. However, like all drug abuse and the resulting behaviors, it will become more apparent the longer the substance abuse continues.
Signs of whippet abuse and addiction include:
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound
- Mood swings
- Secrecy and defensiveness
- Empty whipped cream canisters or balloons in their personal space
- Other inhalants like spray paint, glue, and cooking sprays in someone’s room or car
- Chemical smells on their breath and clothes
- Short attention span
- Redness and blisters on their lips, face, and hands
- Noticeable changes in the sound of their voice
- Unexplained coughing and throat clearing
Nitrous oxide addiction is more about mental and behavioral addiction and less about physical addiction, so the first signs generally manifest in those areas.
Whippets are popular with young adults, and many people dismiss the obvious signs of substance abuse as youthful moodiness or hormonal changes, which can be a dangerous line of thinking.
When it comes to drastic changes in a friend or family member, it is always better to be too careful than careless. Sometimes enlisting professional help or holding an intervention can be life-saving.
Nitrous Oxide Addiction Treatment
Nitrous oxide addiction treatment requires an integrated, evidence-based approach that uncovers and addresses the roots of addiction and its long-term effects.
White Oak Recovery Center provides evidence-based addiction treatment in a peaceful, supportive, and caring environment to help you overcome addiction and heal the damage it has caused.
Our treatment and therapies prepare you for a life in recovery, equipping you with coping skills while instilling the confidence and knowledge you need to maintain a fulfilled life free from substance abuse.
Reach out to our compassionate treatment specialists today. They are eager to help you begin your new life rooted in recovery.