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What Are Whippits?

What Are Whippits? | Just Believe Recovery PA

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If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

“Whippits” (sometimes spelled “whippets” or “whip-its”) is a slang term for nitrous oxide when used recreationally as an inhalant drug to get high. The term “whippit” originates from aerosol canisters of whipped cream, out of which individuals seeking a high would extract the nitrous oxide.

Such canisters are readily obtainable from most supermarkets. Because of this, whippits are among the top 10 most commonly abused drugs worldwide. Despite many places having laws regulating the sale of nitrous oxide to minors, individuals under the age of 18 remain the most likely demographic to abuse it.

History of Whippits

Nitrous oxide came into its own as a recreational drug of abuse as long ago as the early 19th century. Inhalation of large amounts of nitrous oxide lessens physical and mental discomfort, leading to euphoria. Because of these effects, it gained significant traction with members of the British upper class.

Physicians of the time noticed that individuals injured while high on “laughing gas” seemed not to feel pain. As such, nitrous oxide abuse is in part responsible for the advent of modern anesthetics.

Anesthetics based on nitrous oxide are still employed in some medical settings, particularly dentists’ offices. Nitrous oxide can be found in a variety of over-the-counter products, including aerosol cans, where it is used as a propellant, in small metal bulb canisters for various applications, and in large volume tanks installed in sports cars to increase performance.

How Are Whippits Abused?

As with other inhalants, whippits are abused by rapidly breathing in concentrated nitrous oxide fumes. This is usually done by covering the head with a face mask or bag and filling it with nitrous oxide or by filling a balloon with the gas and inhaling it. The high achieved by doing this is short-acting but relatively intense. As such, users tend to repeat this process multiple times.

Unfortunately, many teenagers think whippits are safe, particularly in comparison to other abused inhalants like glue, paint, or gasoline, which contain toxins. Nonetheless, the use of any inhalant can be extremely dangerous, even deadly.

What Makes Whippits Dangerous?

When an individual experiences a high on whippits, their motor control and decision-making become impaired, leading to life-threatening accidents. Many users have suffered from seizures, suffocation, and even sudden heart failure. A nitrous oxide overdose can cause symptoms from nightmarish hallucinations to coma. Moreover, the metal aerosol containers that hold the nitrous oxide are prone to explode when tampered with.

However, the most damaging aspects of whippit abuse occur much more subtly over time. Obvious warning signs only begin to show after repeated use. When whippits are inhaled, the nitrous oxide deprives the brain of oxygen, causing lightheadedness, which most users enjoy.

The nitrous oxide binds to the oxygen in the blood, rendering it much less effective. Through repeated abuse, the brain and other vital organs can become irreparably damaged. When used in a medical setting, nitrous oxide is typically combined with oxygen to prevent such instances of hypoxic injury, but this isn’t the case when recreationally abused.

What Are Whippits? | Just Believe Recovery PA

Given that whippits are most often abused by teenagers who are still developing physically, oxygen deprivation is a grave risk. Teenage whippit abuse can result in lifelong physical and mental impairment and greatly increases the likelihood that they will abuse other, harder drugs.

On top of that, chronic, repeated nitrous oxide abuse can lead to the development of chemical dependence. Once dependence sets in, attempting to stop using the substance causes withdrawal symptoms, such as the following:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Whippit Abuse Warning Signs

An individual who is actively abusing whippits may frequently appear disoriented. They may also repeatedly complain about having a sore throat for no reason and develop a rash on their face. It is also common for them to change their sleeping patterns. And, perhaps most tellingly, they may leave out paraphernalia, such as cracked aerosol cans or other nitrous oxide containers. One may also find bags or balloons that smell strange.

These are all signs of addiction and red flags that they may be actively abusing whippits and should not be ignored. Again, if symptoms such as poor memory, altered personality, and impaired thinking are present, permanent damage may already have occurred. Likewise, the longer the period of abuse, the harder it is to finally quit.

Treatment for Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant abuse is a potentially devastating and severe life-long condition. Individuals suffering from this condition are urged to seek professional treatment as soon as possible to prevent or limit permanent damage. Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer customized, comprehensive programs in residential and intensive outpatient formats.

Our approach to mental and physical wellness includes several therapeutic, evidence-based services, such as the following:

  • Medical detox
  • Behavioral therapy
  • 12-step group support
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Relapse prevention
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness education
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Art and music therapy
  • Aftercare planning
  • Alumni events

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

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Just Believe Recovery is a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited, comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center located in Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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