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Whippets Drug Inhalants Abuse Harmful Effects, Dangers, & Overdose Risks

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Whippets called 'whippits', 'whip its', or 'hippy crack' are a manner of abusing & inhaling nitrous oxide. Discover the harmful effects of Whippets drug. Learn the negative serious side effects of inhaling nitrous oxide. Find out how to safely wean off whippets.

By We Level Up | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: November 10, 2022

Inhalant Whippets Drug Abuse, Effects & Risks

The Whippets Drug is named after the whipped cream cans that users breathe from. Whippets also called whip its and or whippets drug abuse, is the inhalation of nitrous oxide in a can that is used by people to get high. Nitrous oxide is misused as a recreational substance usually by young people due to its euphoric, calming, and delirious effects. It often has negative and risky health effects.

What Are Whippets Drugs?

Whippets drugs also called “laughing gas” or “hippy crack” is a slang term for nitrous oxide cans used by some people as inhalants to get high. These canisters are used for charging whipped cream dispensers.

Inhalant cans have legal status in the United States despite their potential for harm when abused. Although these cans and the gas nitrous oxide are safe, whippets can become addictive when used in excess. Nitrous oxide is an odorless gas famous for its euphoric qualities, like reducing anxiety and producing a brief high. It can be highly addictive when used for these purposes.

In recent years, Detroit was famous for whippet abuse, with authorities uncovering 25,000 steel cartridges in streets and parking lots. However, its recreational use has been on the rise throughout the United States, remaining popular with those who attend nightclubs. In addition, some musicians have advertised in their music, concerning those who feel younger people are vulnerable to influence regarding whippet use.

Urban Dictionary Whippet Drug Definition

What Is A Whippet Drug?

If you are wondering, what is whippets drug? the answer is nitrous oxide used as a recreational inhalant is referred to as whippets or whippet drugs and in current slang it is also spelled whippits or whip-its. The term “whipped-cream aerosol” refers to the canisters that users breathe in to access the gas inside which gets them high.

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Whippets Drug Abuse Statistics

Some do not consider whippets a severe drug, however, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) [1], has confirmed it to be one of the most widely abused inhalants. Whippets are more abused than spray paint, gasoline, and lighter fluid. Additionally, their website states 4.6% of people aged 12 to 17 reportedly misused Whip its, while 5.6% of individuals 26 and older have inhaled Whippets. Lastly, a reported 11.8 million individuals were reported abusing nitrous oxide in 2016.


4.6%

4.6% of people between the ages of 12 and 17 are reportedly abusing whippets.

Source: SAMHSA

5.6%

5.6% of those over 26 have used whippets.

Source: SAMHSA

11.8 million

In 2016, it was estimated that 11.8 million people misused nitrous oxide.

Source: SAMHSA


How Whippets Are Inhaled & Abused?

When a person inhales whippets drug from the steel cans, the result is a lack of oxygen that produces lightheadedness. While this may differ from drugs that produce a strong euphoric rush, it still induces an anxiety-reducing sensation that some people enjoy.

Whippets can be abused, leaving lasting effects on the person using them. Depending on their frequency of use and abuse, whippets pose short-term and long-term health effects ranging from memory loss to death from whippets. Whippets are considered inhalants that can take more time to become addicted to when compared to other forms of inhalants. A significant factor in this is how someone who uses it gets high and how nitrous oxide affects the brain. 

Unfortunately, nitrous oxide can impact the brain’s function, and the person who inhales it goes without oxygen for brief moments. Those who abuse whippets drug can either inhale nitrous oxide directly through the steel cans or use crackers, devices used to crack open the canisters and inhale the gas directly. 

Balloons may be more convenient for some users because they can get more gas from them rather than using cans. The person would put the balloon in their mouth and inhale the gas for the same effects available in the other methods of whippets drug use. The impacts of whippets drug 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 [2].

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Warning Signs Of Whippets Drug Use

Individuals may have a whippets drug abuse problem if they frequently act disoriented or develop facial rashes or complaints of sore throats (or a “chilled” feeling in the face or throat) for no obvious cause. They may also change their sleeping habits or develop strange odors on their breath. The discovery of cracked aerosol cans, any nitrous oxide canisters you didn’t buy, or deflated balloons with strange odors is a major red flag.

Do not ignore the warning signs and hope they will go away. Once symptoms become obvious, such as memory loss, personality changes, and impaired cognitive ability—an inhalant user may already have suffered lasting damage. Plus, the longer they wait to get help, the harder it is to quit.

The best time to confront the problem is today, with the assistance of therapists and doctors. Be sure to mention specifically that you suspect whippets drug because inhalant abuse is a problem that even many experienced medical professionals remain untrained in recognizing. You may request a referral to a specialist if necessary.

Whippets Drug Overdose

Can you OD on whippets? Yes, whippet overdose can happen. Although nitrous oxide is generally safe when used medically and appropriately, it can cause an overdose when abused. Whippets overdose occurs when a person inhales too much of it, causing intoxication.

When individuals use whippets recreationally, they ignore the importance of oxygen. Usually, when nitrous oxide is administered in a medical setting, patients are given oxygen periodically during the treatment or for a few minutes after. Oxygen mitigates the side effects of whippets and reduces the possibility of whippets.

Why Are Whippets Dangerous?

Whippet highs impair decision-making and motor skills, which can lead to some users falling from balconies or stumbling into oncoming traffic. Others have experienced convulsions, asphyxia, or heart failure. A user who has overdosed may experience hallucinations or fall into a coma. A metal whippet container will occasionally burst in a devastating way.

However, the majority of the harm caused by whippets builds up slowly and only becomes noticeable after repeated inhalations. Nitrous oxide/inhalant addiction does exist and is known to cause withdrawal symptoms such as heavy sweating, pounding heart, nausea, insomnia, hallucinations, and seizures. However, it is less well understood than many other dependent diseases.

Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce specific mental and body effects. Inhalant abuse can cause extreme harm to the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, and other vital organs in the body.
Most inhalants act directly on the nervous system to produce specific mental and body effects. Inhalant abuse can cause extreme harm to the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, and other vital organs in the body.

Whippets Drug Dangers FAQs

  1. Are Whippets Safe?

    The long-term effects of abusing whippets are potentially far more damaging and even life-threatening. As well as the detrimental effects caused by oxygen deprivation, whippets can also cause nerve damage due to a reduction in vitamin B12.

  2. How Bad Are Whippets For You?

    Are whippets bad for you? Abusing whippets can lead to many severe and unwanted side effects. You should avoid whippets entirely. 

  3. Do Whippets Cause Brain Damage?

    The euphoric effects last only seconds or minutes, yet whippets can lead to long-term consequences. These include irreversible brain and nerve damage, memory loss, heart attack, coma, and even death.

  4. Do Whippits Kill Brain Cells?

    Researchers have clarified that whippets can deprive the heart and brain of much-needed oxygen, a condition formally known as hypoxia. It’s also common knowledge that the brain can’t function without oxygen; the longer it lacks oxygen, the more damage occurs. So yes, whippets can kill brain cells.

Harmful Whippet Drug Effects

Recreational use of whippets, drugs, or laughing gas is no laughing matter. Breathing in the nitrous oxide from whipped cream cans is inhalant abuse, also sometimes known as huffing. While inhaling the nitrous oxide gas from a whipped cream dispenser may not seem all that alarming, there are several harmful effects of the whippets’ drug [3]. 

Whippets drug effects can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Asphyxia
  • Brain damage
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Damage to peripheral nerves
  • Muscle weakness
  • Spinal cord disease
  • Paralysis, especially in the legs

When the nitrous oxide gas is inhaled, its effects are often immediate. When consumed in excess or with long-term abuse of whippet cans, the nitrous oxide gas side effects become more severe. Muscle weakness may worsen over time, and frequent users may experience noticeable nerve damage.

Although health problems can arise with repeated use, whippets are also dangerous for first-time users. laughing gas or nitrous oxide toxicity can lead to asphyxia as the body and brain become deprived of oxygen. The result can be serious health issues such as organ failure, brain damage, and even death [4].

What Causes The Damage From Whippet Drug Abuse?

The amount of oxygen that is available to the brain and other bodily tissues is lowered when nitrous oxide and other inhalants are used (in reality, their “high” effect depends on the brain’s reduced oxygen flow, which causes dizziness). Nitrous oxide effectively “smothers” the oxygen in the blood by binding to the oxygen atoms there.

Nitrous oxide that is meant for inhalation (or that is illegally marketed) does not have the same safety precautions as nitrous oxide used in medical treatments, which is why it is diluted with extra oxygen. Whippet use can cause oxygen-dependent essential organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, nerves, and/or brain, to become permanently damaged over time.

Teenagers, whose bodies and minds are still developing (the average human brain stops “growing up” only in its mid-twenties), are especially at risk for oxygen deficiency. A high school student who utilizes whippets is setting himself up for long-term challenges with his physical and mental abilities. Additionally, he is putting himself in a high-risk group for consuming other substances.

Over time, chemicals found in inhalants wear down the protective sheath of the brain. This can cause loss of brain tissue and permanent brain damage.
Over time, chemicals found in inhalants wear down the protective sheath of the brain. This can cause the side effects of loss of brain tissue and permanent brain damage.

Are Whippets Addictive?

Yes, whippets can be addictive. People who use whippets drugs regularly can become addicted to the feeling of euphoria, especially when they are used to other drugs, like cocaine or MDMA. However, you cannot become physically dependent on whippets drugs as you can with alcohol or opioids.  

Whippets are psychoactive drugs classified as inhalants, like spray paint, glue, and poppers. People who use whippets inhale nitrous oxide from cans in different ways. Whippets drugs are the most commonly used inhalants in the country, with millions of people using them each year. 

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Long-Term Effects Of Using Whippets Drug

Doing whippets drugs or abusing nitrous oxide in any other form can cause long-term side effects on a person’s health. Inhaling nitrous oxide causes brain cells to die due to oxygen deprivation, known as hypoxia. Brain damage can be permanent.

Brain damage from nitrous oxide use causes memory loss in some people. Although rare, psychological issues are possible, ranging from substance-induced psychosis to depression. Other long-term effects of whippets include a buzzing or ringing sound in the ears, incontinence, or disruption to the reproductive system [5]. Congenital disabilities may be possible when a woman uses nitrous oxide during pregnancy.

Prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide may result in the following: 

  • Memory loss
  • Psychosis
  • Incontinence
  • Limb spasms
  • Depression
  • Vitamin B12 depletion (long-term depletion causes brain and nerve damage)
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Potential birth defects (if consumed during pregnancy)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Disruption of reproductive systems
  • Psychological dependence

Mixing Whippets Drug With Other Substances

No current research demonstrates that combining nitrous oxide with other substances increases health risks. However, it is possible that combining nitrous oxide gas with stimulants and other drugs may cause additional pressure on the heart, increase blood pressure, and may disrupt the heart rate.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that combining nitrous oxide with other drugs such as marijuana, LSD, ketamine, magic shrooms, and salvia can cause intense dissociation.

Mixing alcohol and nitrous oxide can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Feeling heavy or sluggish
  • Reduced concentration
  • Loss of body control

Both alcohol and nitrous oxide depresses the central nervous system (CNS) — slowing your breathing. Thus, it increases the risk of overdosing. Doing whippets and drinking also puts you at risk of having an accident, passing out, choking on vomit, and dying.

Individuals can also harm themselves if they use faulty gas dispensers, which have the potential to explode. Dispensing several gas canisters consecutively with one cracker (a handheld device used to ‘crack’ a nitrous oxide bulb/whippet) can also cause cold burns to the hands.

Why Do Teens Abuse Whippets?

Whippets, like all inhalant drugs, are taken by inhaling the fumes in confined, concentrated spaces. Typically, this is done by enclosing the canister and the user’s head in a bag or face mask or by transferring the gas to a balloon and inhaling it there. Whippets typically experience tremendous but fleeting “highs,” making repeated “huffing” common.

Many teenagers think it is safe to use nitrous oxide, especially when they contrast it with other common inhalants (such as paint or glue) that are known to contain hazardous compounds. But the notion that inhalant usage is innocuous is exceedingly dangerous and could result in serious harm or even death.

Whippets Drug On Tiktok

The internet, mainly social media, is filled with bizarre and questionable content. Still, a recent photo of a drug-filled birthday cake on TikTok has people chatting – but what is Smartwhip? “Smartwhip” is one of the main providers of pressurized cans in England, Scotland, Wales, Europe, Australia, and the USA. They are whipped cream chargers filled with nitrous oxide. They are mainly used in the kitchen as a whipping agent for whipped cream. 

If you’ve been on Tiktok, you will likely have seen that photo of a supposedly Smartwhip-filled birthday cake. The birthday cake has now made the rounds on social media, prompting many to question why the sweet treat contains Smartwhip.

Another video that got temporarily banned from Tiktok shows a trail of hundreds of empty whipped cream cans leading down a corridor and into a bedroom. On the bed, a man reclines with two sets of sunglasses on. He’s holding a whipped cream dispenser with the nozzle in his mouth.

What’s whippet slang? The canisters — nangs, whippets, or bulbs — contain nitrous oxide. Whippits, Whippets, and Whip-Its are the same drugs. They’re typically sold for preparing whipped cream on cakes and other delicious items. But they have another use: nitrous oxide gives a quick high when inhaled. It was reposted and it stayed up for a month, got more than one-and-a-half-million views, then got deleted again.

You may have heard of nitrous oxide or know it by its street names ‘whippets’ or ‘hippie crack’ – it can be misused as a recreational drug by users who get high by inhaling gas from aerosol canisters.
You may have heard of nitrous oxide or know it by its street names ‘whippets’ or ‘hippie crack’ – it can be misused as a recreational drug by users who get high by inhaling gas from aerosol canisters.

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6 Most Popular Whippets Drugs FAQs

  1. What Do Whippets Do?

    Whippets work differently. Instead of mimicking or tricking the brain’s reward system, experts believe nitrous oxide cuts off the brain’s oxygen supply and interferes with other pathways. Someone inhaling whippets might laugh uncontrollably, lose sensation in their limbs, and feel happy.

  2. How Long Does Whippets Stay In Your System?

    In general, Nitrous oxide (Whippets) is administered by inhalation, absorbed by diffusion through the lungs, and eliminated via respiration. The elimination half-life of nitrous oxide is approximately 5 minutes. It is excreted essentially unchanged (ie, nonmetabolized) via the lungs; less than 0.004% is actually metabolized in humans.

  3. Can You Drug Test For Whippets?

    Whippets can be detected in blood or urine shortly after exposure using a special technique and precautions, but it is not detected on the results of routine drug screening panels.

  4. Can People Consume Whippets Drugs With Balloons?

    Filling a balloon with nitrous oxide allows the gas to warm up, and it gives people some control over how quickly it’s released into the mouth. Those reasons explain why huffing and other forms of inhalant use are uncommon with nitrous oxide.

  5. Do Whippets Show Up On A Drug Test?

    If you are wondering, “do whippets come out in drug test?”, or “do whippets show up on drug tests?”, the answer is nitrous oxide can be identified in blood or urine soon after exposure with the help of special methods and safety measures, but it is not picked up by findings of standard drug testing panels.

  6. What Are Whippets Drug Effects On Humans?

    Whippet highs impair decision-making and motor skills, which can lead to some users falling from balconies or stumbling into oncoming traffic. Others have experienced convulsions, asphyxia, or heart failure. A user who has overdosed may experience hallucinations or fall into a coma.

Reach out for help at We Level Up NJ substance abuse center offering Whippets drug abuse therapy programs.
Reach out for help at We Level Up NJ substance abuse center offering Whippets drug abuse therapy programs.

Whippets Drug Addiction Can Be Treated

Whippets drug or nitrous oxide addiction treatment is the same as treating other drugs that cause psychological dependency. The treatment also revolves around determining any underlying abuse and whippet addiction causes. During therapy, the client will describe when the whippets’ drug use began and what factors contributed to it. The clinicians and therapist will help the client change thoughts and behaviors associated with the abuse, helping the individual to develop better coping mechanisms that don’t involve substance use. 

Drug abuse treatment programs also involve many complementary therapies and treatments. Possible treatment program offerings include specialized therapies, such as music and art therapy, massage therapy, and holistic therapy. Wellness programs that include yoga classes, exercise regimes, and meditation workshops may also be included. Other standards in whippet addiction treatment include individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and 12-Step-based programs.

Find The Right Treatment Plan At We Level Up NJ

The key to nitrous oxide addiction treatment is it should be individualized to fit the unique needs of each person in treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone in recovery. A high-quality program will understand this and tailor treatment programs accordingly.

We Level Up NJ provides proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery from whippets drug abuse and addiction through our medically-assisted Detox Program. So, reclaim your life. Call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

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Sources

[1] SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_3095/ShortReport-3095.html#:~:text=Inhalants%20are%20legal%2C%20everyday%20products,potentially%20toxic%20and%20sometimes%20lethal.
[2] DEA – https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Inhalants-2020_1.pdf
[3] CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/substance-use/index.htm
[4] [5] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/inhalants
[5] We Level UpInhalant Abuse

Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2021.) What Is Nitrous Oxide? Retrieved on April 21, 2021 from https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/nitrous-oxide/

Candleinc.org. (2020.) Whippet As A Drug: What Parents Need to Know. Retrieved on April 21, 2021 from https://candleinc.org/whippets-drugs/

Whippits, nitrous oxide and the dangers of legal highs – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4453489/

Arch Academy: “Whippets: Teen Inhalant Abuse Causes Lasting Damage.”

Addiction Group: “Whippets (Nitrous Oxide).”