For years, nitrous oxide has been a safe and medically prescribed pain treatment. Sadly, however, it has now become a popular drug among teens because of the euphoric effects that come with inhaling it. Known as whippits, this drug is a common ingredient in whipped cream dispensers, and it’s a popular recreational. If you’re concerned that your loved one is abusing whippits, these 11 facts are exactly what you need to know.

11. Nitrous Oxide Has Been Around for a Long Time

First among the 11 whippits facts: Nitrous oxide was first used by Horace Wells in December of 1844 to reduce pain for his dental patients. It was used 12-15 times with a lot of success; so much that its use was broadly adopted by the Colton Dental Association clinics in 1863. This was long before anyone knew that nitrous oxide could be use recreationally, and it was hailed as an exciting new pain medication.

10. Whippits, Whippets, Whip-Its: All One in the Same

There is a lot of confusion about what, exactly, whippits are. In case you’re confused, whippits, whippets, and whip-its all refer to nitrous oxide being used as a recreational drug. Whippits are a type of inhalant, which, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, are types of inhaled drugs that are easily accessible and common in the home.

For example, one of the most popular ways to inhale whippits is via whipped cream dispensers. However, getting the gas from a cannister is difficult, so people often release the gas into a balloon. Here, it can warm up and is more easily inhalable.

9. Whippits Are a Real Problem

While “huffing” and similar forms of recreational drug use are not always taken seriously, there is a lot of danger to whippit abuse. According to the “2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health” conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 21 million Americans have used inhalants. Nitrous oxide is just one such example,  but this is a major problem for millions of Americans.

Unfortunately, part of the issue is that nitrous oxide addiction is not taken seriously. This encourages teens and young adults to experiment with it as a recreational drug, which in turn leads to addiction. And that’s scary, because nitrous oxide is far from harmless.

8. Young People Are Especially at Risk to Use Whippits

Teens often do not realize the dangers of recreational drug use. Moreover, because whippits are so easy to acquire and they’re not similar to “harder” drugs like cocaine or heroin, teens feel safe using them for prolonged periods of time.

Additionally, accessibility creates a real issue for young adults using whippits. While it can be difficult to acquire illegal substances, whippits are available at the grocery store, which makes it the first choice for teenagers searching for a way to get high.

7. Nitrous Oxide Abuse Can Be Life-Threatening

Unlike other drugs, whippits do not activate chemicals in your brain to make you feel better. Instead, it deprives the brain of oxygen, resulting in a light-headed feeling. While nitrous oxide is not technically addictive, the high only lasts for 2-3 minutes, which encourages teens to abuse nitrous oxide again and again.

After repeated use, clusters of cells in the brain can begin to die from oxygen deprivation. This process is called apoptosis, and it could cause long term brain damage in repeated users.

6. Whippets Can Damage Your Organs

Because of the chemicals in nitrous oxide, long term whippit abuse can cause serious organ damage. This includes the brain, which can lead to long-term or permanent mobility issues in severe cases. In addition to the brain, the lungs, kidneys, heart, and liver are at risk of long-term damage, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

nitrous oxide side effects

5. Nitrous Oxide Is Safe when Prescribed

While whippits have many dangerous side effects, nitrous oxide is routinely prescribed by medical professionals. You may know nitrous oxide as “laughing gas,” but it isn’t just limited to dentistry. It’s also used to help women with labor pains and to treat pain at trauma centers.

Nitrous oxide is safe in a medical environment because medical professionals ensure that the patient is getting plenty of oxygen. This prevents most of the negative, long term effects of nitrous oxide abuse.

4. Whippits Are Addictive

Because whippits don’t stimulate your serotonin or dopamine levels to create a high, the good news is that they are not physically addictive. However, they can be psychologically addictive, especially for long term abusers of nitrous oxide. And sadly, addiction often comes with withdrawals.

Nitrous oxide withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

Unfortunately, these are only the milder symptoms. After long term abuse, you may also experience:

  • Loss of mental clarity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Irregular heart rate

Of these 11 whippits facts, this one is especially important to share with anyone you suspect may be abusing nitrous oxide.

3. There Are Signs of Whippits Abuse to Watch For

If you suspect that your loved one is abusing whippits, there are important signs that you can be aware of. First, keep an eye out for cracked whipped cream cans. Many people will  break open cannisters to get access to the nitrous oxide inside. Additionally, you might notice a lot of odd-smelling balloons lying around. Because they’re such a popular receptacle for nitrous oxide, balloons are common in the homes of people abusing whippits.

2. B12 May Help Treat Whippit Abuse

whippits addiction treatment

Unfortunately, whippits may lower your body’s ability to process B12 vitamins. This can lead to a B12 deficiency, which can cause a variety of nervous system issues. Thankfully, there are ways to treat this concerning whippit side effect.

Taking a vitamin B12 supplement can minimize these effects while your body is recovering from whippits. As part of your recovery treatment, you can take these supplements to make sure that your body does not develop new problems while you’re in recovery.

1. Nitrous Oxide Abuse Is Treatable

The good news is that there are plenty of drug rehabilitation programs that will help you safely detox and recover from whippits. Of these 11 facts about whippits, this is by far the most important thing for you to understand. If you or your adult loved one has a problem with nitrous oxide abuse, reach out to our admissions department at 407-449-8410 or reach out online to get immediate help with your nitrous oxide addiction.



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