Whippet Drugs: Effects, Addiction, Signs, Overdose & Treatment
What are Whippet drugs?
Whippet drug (or whippits) also called “laughing gas” or “hippy crack” is a slang term for steel cartridges filled with nitrous oxide. These steel carriages are used for charging whipped cream dispensers. Despite its potential for harm when abused, the steel canisters have legal status in the United States.
Although both these dispensers and the gas nitrous oxide are safe on their own, whippet drugs can become addictive when used in excess. Nitrous oxide is an odorless gas that is popular for its euphoric qualities like reducing anxiety and its ability to produce a brief high. It can be highly addictive when used for these purposes.
Some people will inhale the gas to get high. Although breathing in gas from a whipped cream dispenser may seem harmless, whippet abuse is a type of inhalant abuse. It can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal.
According to the scientific piece ‘Whippits, nitrous oxide and the dangers of legal highs’, published by the National Library of Medicine, “Nitrous oxide is increasingly being used as a recreational drug. Prolonged use of nitrous oxide can have disabling neurological sequelae due to functional inactivation of vitamin B12”. 
The researchers present three cases illustrating the neurological complications of using nitrous oxide. Two of these patients received nitrous oxide as a consequence of repeated hospital attendance and the third via ‘Whippet’ canisters used in cream dispensers, which are now widely available. Two patients developed sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy with demyelinating features. All patients were treated with parenteral vitamin B12 with partial recovery, though two were left significantly disabled. 
Whippet drug Statistics
In recent years, Detroit was a popular city for whippet drug use, with authorities uncovering 25,000 steel cartridges in streets and parking lots. Its recreational use has been on the rise all over the United States, remaining popular with children, adolescents, and those who attend nightclubs. Some musicians have advertised in their music, concerning those who feel younger people are vulnerable to influence regarding whippit use.
Some do not consider whippets a serious drug, however, SAMHSA has confirmed it to be one of the most popularly abused inhalants, more abused than gasoline, spray paint, and lighter fluid. The website notes 4.6% of individuals aged 12 to 17 have been reportedly misusing, while 5.6% of people 26 and older have used them. Lastly, a reported 11.8 million people reported misusing nitrous oxide in 2016. 
According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, whippets are now the seventh most popular drug in the world and are especially common among teens and adolescents. Whippet and inhalant abuse among adolescents is common mainly because these substances are accessible and cheap. Whippets can be found in any canisters of household items, like whipped cream. A parent may not even realize their child is abusing whippets simply because people rarely consider these dispensers as drug paraphernalia. 
How are Whippet drugs Used?
Whippets can become abused, leaving lasting effects on the person. Depending on their frequency of abuse, whippet drugs pose both short-term and long-term health effects that range from memory loss to death. Whippets are inhalants that can take more time to become addicted to when compared to other inhalants. A major factor in this is how someone gets high and how nitrous oxide impacts the brain. When someone inhales whippets from the steel canisters, the result is a lack of oxygen that occurs to produce lightheadedness. While this differs from drugs that produce a strong euphoric rush, it still causes an anxiety-reducing sensation many enjoy.
Unfortunately, nitrous oxide can impact the brain’s function, and the individual who inhales it goes for brief moments without oxygen. Those who abuse whippet drugs can either inhale nitrous oxide directly through canisters or use crackers, which are devices used to crack open the canisters and inhale the gas directly.
Balloons may be more convenient for some because they can get more gas from them, rather than utilizing cartridges. The individual would put the balloon to their mouth and inhale the gas for the same effects available in the other methods of whippet drug use. The effects of whippets can vary based on the drugs someone has used; the amount of nitrous oxide they have inhaled if they have combined other drugs with it, and how often they have inhaled nitrous oxide.
Short And Long-Term Effects Of Whippet drug Abuse
Those who abuse whippits risk short and long-term side effects. Initially, the brief euphoria when nitrous oxide is inhaled may be mild. The calming anti-anxiety effect may produce relaxation and the feeling of floating in the individual.
short-term effects of whippet drugs include:
- Laughing uncontrollably
- Poor coordination
- Blurred vision
- Numbness in the body
- Feeling dizzy
Long-term effects of whippet drug abuse include:
- Loss of blood pressure
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Heart dysfunction
- Memory problems
- Weakened immune system
- Apoptosis (dead brain cells)
- Depletion of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 depletion occurs, which can encourage nerve damage. Overdose can occur due to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia). Effects can change based on the presence of other drugs. For example, alcohol and whippets can cause more confusion and disorientation.
Consequences or Whippet Drug Abuse
Abusing whippet drugs can cause B12 deficiency
Also known as cobalamin deficiency. B12 is a vitamin that’s naturally present in certain foods and other dietary supplements. When a person is vitamin B12 deficient, they may become anemic and experience symptoms like fatigue, difficulty breathing, numbness, lack of coordination, and memory problems. A person who abuses whippets may not realize this side effect among the many others, increasing their risk of hospitalization.
Whippet drugs can kill brain cells
Whippets can deprive the heart and brain of much-needed oxygen, a condition otherwise known as hypoxia. Long-term use of whippets can cause delayed cognitive development in younger people. Because the brain can’t function without oxygen, the longer it lacks it, the more damage occurs. In any other situation, brain damage like cell death occurs when the brain is not given oxygen.
Whippet drugs can cause organ damage
In addition to the brain, whippets can damage organs like the lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. There’s an even greater risk of lung injury and even frostbite in the nose, mouth, and throat when a person inhales laughing gas directly from a canister. Frostbite may sound extreme, but nitrous oxide is maintained at 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the canister. Not only can frostbite occur, but other risks include faulty dispensers exploding and ruptured lung tissues.
Sings of whippet drug abuse
Signs of whippet drug abuse are often narrowed down to empty canisters, steel cartridges, and cracker paraphernalia. Physical signs of abuse include runny nose, red eyes, loss of appetite, sores around the mouth, and a drunk appearance. Whippet drug abuse can become more complicated if individuals use plastic bags over their heads while inhaling, moving, or dancing while taking whippet drugs, and combining whippets with other aerosol inhalants, alcohol, or drugs. This could signal a bigger problem with potentially fatal outcomes.
Whippet drug addiction
Whippet drugs are often used alongside other inhalants that can include a wide range of chemicals, including common household items. One of the many dangers of whippets is addiction, which is the result of changes in brain function and emotional attachment. It’s common for people to abuse drugs to cope with emotional struggles or mental illness, so drug dependence is often linked to emotional support.
Engaging in substance abuse at a young age increases the person’s risk of developing an addiction. Not only that, but an individual who begins experimenting with soft drugs like nitrous oxide may turn to harder drugs like heroin, cocaine, or prescription drugs for a more intense high. If you find yourself or a loved one developing a drug problem, our addiction treatment programs at We Level Up Treatment Center can help.
Whippet Drug Overdose
As with other drugs, you can overdose on whippet drugs. Users tend to continuously inhale laughing gas because the high it produces only lasts a few seconds. Inhaling too much can be toxic and lead to an overdose. Common whippet overdose symptoms include bluish tint to the lips and fingers, trouble breathing, tightness in the chest, choking, and hallucinations. A whippet overdose can also cause a person’s breathing to stop, resulting in death.
How can an inhalant overdose be treated?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, because an inhalant overdose can lead to seizures or cause the heart to stop, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions. They will try to stop the seizure or restart the heart. 
Inhalant Addiction Treatment
When a whipped drug is abused, it can also be called Inhalant Addiction. This is a very serious problem that can cause permanent brain damage in a short period. Most individuals who suffer from Inhalant Addiction need professional treatment. There are both outpatient and inpatient treatment options available for people suffering from an addiction to inhalants like whippets.
Some people seeking treatment for use of inhalants have found behavioral therapy to be helpful:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to use drugs.
- Motivational incentives use vouchers or small cash rewards for positive behaviors such as staying drug-free.
Whippet Drug Abuse and Addiction are serious conditions that can cause major health, social, and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up CA Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Chen, T., Zhong, N., Jiang, H., Zhao, M., Chen, Z., & Sun, H. (2018). Neuropsychiatric Symptoms Induced by Large Doses of Nitrous Oxide Inhalation: A Case Report. Shanghai archives of psychiatry, 30(1), 56–59. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)