Dangers of Whippets

Last Edited: October 5, 2020
Reisto Belovich
Clinically Reviewed
Jim Brown, CDCA
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Nitrous Oxide, or “Whippets” can have devastating effects

Whippets are technically referred to as nitrous oxide. It was first synthesized in 1772 for numerous purposes. In addition to turning cream into whipped cream, nitrous oxide also has uses in vehicle auto-motives as well as medical anesthetics (commonly referred to as laughing gas). Unfortunately, Nitrous oxide is generally abused in recreational circumstances, frequently referred to as whippets.

When initially thinking of the concept of abusing whippets, individuals may not see as many negative consequences compared to more potent narcotics. However, there are notable health hazards associated with prolonged use, and even deaths as a direct consequence. Combined with immense accessibility, the dangers of whippets drug abuse need to be addressed.

Whippet use in America

Nitrous Oxide Addiction & Whippet Side Effects

The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists some of the many long-term effects on the body of somebody who abuses nitrous oxide:

liver and kidney damage

Delayed behavioral development (from brain problems)

Bone Marrow Damage

loss of coordination and limb spasms (from nerve damage)

Hearing Loss

Brain Damage (from cut-off oxygen flow to the brain)

Although rare, the misuse of this gas can lead to a substance use disorder in which withdrawal symptoms—such as irritability, insomnia and sleep disturbances, excessive sweating, nausea, and diminished appetite—may be experienced. Seeking treatment early is recommended as breaking the chain of misuse and treating the condition with strategies in cognitive therapy help to ensure that these serious physical conditions don’t develop.

Every individual who struggles with inhalant abuse has a unique set of characteristics that will determine the best treatment method for long-term recovery. Our facilities are equipped to accommodate a wide variety of addictions and upon a comprehensive initial evaluation done by one of our substance use disorder specialists, a treatment plan will be developed to include healing in all aspects of the patient’s being: mind, body, and spirit.

3 Things You Should Know About Whippets

3 Things You Should Know-About Whippets Infographic

Although people have been inhaling nitrous oxide to get high for hundreds of years, there are still a few things that aren’t widely known about it.

1. Most of those who tried whippets for the first time in the previous year were under 18 years old.

The recreational use of nitrous oxide made its debut in 1799 at upper-class British parties dubbed “laughing gas parties.” These parties were a rare phenomenon, as only medical and dental professionals could access the gas and the equipment needed to use it.

In 1863, the equipment became more widely available and most countries began to implement laws regarding the restricted use of the gas. However, its recreational abuse remained prominent in the United States and Canada and is still widely used today despite legal restrictions.

Today, inhaling nitrous oxide is still a popular practice among teens, which often refer to it as any of the following:

  • Hippy Crack
  • Laughing Gas
  • Whippets/Whippits
  • Nos
  • Balloons
  • Epiphany Drug

A spokesman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse relayed to The Daily Beast that over 719,000 Americans over the age of 12 admitted to using whippets and other inhalants for the first time in the previous year, with most of those being under the age of 18.

While the laughing gas parties of yesteryear aren’t the norm for today’s inhalant abusers, it’s easy for anyone to obtain and conceal whippets at any social event. One of the most popular ways to purchase it is in a balloon at a concert.

2. Your heart can stop while using whippets.

The long-term health effects of using laughing gas or any inhalant can include:

  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Loss of coordination and limb spasms (from nerve damage)
  • Delayed behavioral development (from brain problems)
  • Brain damage (from cut-off oxygen flow to the brain)

If someone uses too much of the drug, the body’s response can be swift and severe. This is characterized as an overdose and often results in seizures, coma or sometimes death.

Death can occur due to sudden sniffing death, which is when the heart suddenly stops within minutes of ingesting the gas. Sudden sniffing death can happen to any person, regardless of age and health, at any time, regardless of how often it was used before.

3. Anyone using nitrous oxide for recreational purposes can become addicted to it.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine characterizes addiction as a “chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” When the proper functioning of this circuitry is disrupted by frequent recreational use of nitrous oxide, physiological, psychological, social and spiritual symptoms develop.

Addiction shows itself in many different ways, including intense cravings, money problems, relationship trouble with friends and family, mood changes, depression, dramatic change in friend groups and loss of interest in life goals.

If you or someone you care about has tried to stop inhaling nitrous oxide but can’t or suffers withdrawals during attempts to stop, a substance abuse treatment program may be the best opportunity to overcome a whippets addiction for a lifetime.

We’re here to help. Contact our compassionate and knowledgeable staff today and we’ll help you determine the next best step for you or your loved one.

Interventions for Whippet Addicts

While nitrous oxide canisters have many uses,—you may be familiar with how they’re used to access whipped cream in canisters—many people have discovered a way to inhale the gas in order to induce an instant sensation of euphoria for several seconds.

This short-lasting effect and the ease of which it can be purchased by people of all ages indicates an understatement of the dangers associated with the persistent huffing of nitrous oxide canisters, commonly referred to as whippets or laughing-gas.

Friends and family members often feel the need to bring awareness of these dangers, as well as the possibility of addiction, to the attention of their loved one in order to safeguard his or her long-term well being.

An intervention is a respectful and compassionate way for the loved ones of an individual to share their concern and allow the subject of the intervention to be heard and understood as well.

If someone you love is illustrating addictive behaviors, such as health problems, money issues, problems at work or school, aggressive or irritable behavior, depression, and deterioration of his or her outward appearance, consider discussing an intervention with loved ones. We proudly offer the services of skilled, compassionate intervention specialists that are prepared and equipped for the delicate nature of a substance abuse intervention.

Your intervention specialist will help you determine the collection of close loved ones to partake in the intervention, as well as help you choose the right time and place, understand and rehearse your role, and respond to your loved one’s emerging clarity as the nitrous oxide abuse intervention progresses.

Get The Help You Need from Whippet Abuse Today

Drug abuse and chemical dependency is a terrible circumstance to experience. No one should ever have to live under the control of mind-altering substances.

As with most addictions, treatment is essential to minimize the damage done from abusing nitrous oxide, while simultaneously establishing healthy thought processes, increasing self-worth, and engaging in a community of peers on the same path with similar goals.

If you or someone you know may need treatment in order to stop inhaling substances, contact us today. We are dedicated to guiding our patients through the necessary steps to take back your life.