Substance Abuse

Whippets: The Dangerous Inhalant Hiding in Small Metal Canisters

Tiny metal canisters, which can fit in the palm of your hand, and are commonly found in whipped cream canisters or dispensers, may not seem like they would be dangerous or cause harm, but they can. Inside each small container is nitrous oxide that, when abused by inhaling it and consumed in excess, can be highly addictive and cause serious, potentially life threatening problems.

All across Orange County, the use of whippets, the slang term for the tiny metal canisters filled with nitrous oxide, to achieve a euphoric high is on the rise. It is extremely easy to hide this type of inhalant abuse from friends and family because the canisters are small and easy to hide. It often isn’t until the individual is experiencing serious, potentially deadly side effects from their whippet use that people start to notice.

Taking the time to learn more about this dangerous inhalant can provide you with valuable information that will help you determine if you, or someone close to you, may need help with their inhalant abuse. By learning this information, you could save a life.

Nitrous Oxide: The Colorless Gas Often Used During Medical Procedures

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, often odorless gas that, when inhaled, can not only calm and sedate an individual, but it can help with pain management.

In the past, it was used by both medical professionals and dentists as a way to help individuals manage both their anxiety and pain during complex or lengthy medical procedures.

In recent years, medical professionals have been choosing not to use nitrous oxide and instead choose to use other forms of sedation and anesthesia when performing surgery or other types of medical procedures. However, nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it is sometimes called, is still commonly used in dental offices, especially those that specialize in treating patients who suffer from dental anxiety.

Nitrous Oxide is Easy to Abuse as it is Easy to Obtain

Most individuals who abuse nitrous oxide don’t use the type that is used by medical professionals. Instead, they use a form of nitrous oxide that comes in a small metal canister. The metal canister was intended for use in whipped cream dispensers, but the nitrous oxide can be inhaled and a euphoric high can be achieved.

Unfortunately, because whipped cream canisters can be found in almost any grocery store across the country, it is extremely easy to access large quantities of nitrous oxide. The ability to legally access large qualities of this type of harmful substance makes it extremely easy for individuals, especially children and young adults, to become addicted.

Other Names for Nitrous Oxide

There are a number of other terms and names used by individuals for nitrous oxide. Some of the other slang terms and names for nitrous oxide include:

  • Laughing gas
  • Silly gas
  • Hippy crack
  • Whippets
  • Whip-Its

The Dangerous Side Effects of Whippets

Dangerous side effects can occur from using whippets, even just one time. While all side effects from whippet use can be dangerous, the most dangerous side effect of all is its ability to kill brain cells.

Do Whippets Kill Brain Cells? – YES!

To achieve the euphoric high you feel when using whippets, oxygen to the brain is limited and in some cases completely stopped. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die. This causes brain damage that oftentimes is irreversible.

The scariest thing about whippets is they can kill brain cells just with a single use. An individual who has never used whippets before could try it for the first time and end up in the hospital suffering from severe brain damage.

The longer you use whippets, the greater your risk is of experiencing irreversible brain damage. That is why it is so important that if you, or someone you know, may be addicted to whippets; you get help from a reputable substance abuse treatment center before it is too late.

Young Adults are Extremely Susceptible to Brain Damage from Whippets

Anyone who uses and abuses whippets is at risk of brain damage. However, the risk is higher for children and young adults.

Children and young adults are at a higher risk for brain damage because their brains are still forming. The damage that occurs from whippets can hinder brain growth and development, which can cause problems with brain function and lead to a lasting impairment.

Other Dangerous Side Effects of Whippets

Its ability to kill brain cells is just one of the many dangerous side effects of inhalant abuse. Some of the other dangerous side effects of whippets include:

  • Feelings of extreme euphoria
  • Lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
  • Experiencing hallucinations or delusions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis caused by damage to the nervous system – most commonly occurs in the legs but can occur anywhere.
  • Brain damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency which can cause extreme, irreversible nerve damage
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart dysfunction
  • Kidney damage

Signs of Inhalant Abuse and Possible Addiction to Whippets

Inhalant abuse, especially with whippets, is extremely difficult to spot, especially in the early stages of addiction. It is difficult to notice because the high, euphoric feeling the whippets create is so short lived that an individual can often hide it from family and friends.

Even though it is difficult to identify if someone suffers from inhalant abuse, it isn’t impossible. There are often noticeable signs that an individual may be suffering from an inhalant abuse disorder.

Some of the warning signs of inhalant abuse, especially with whippets, include:

  • Sudden, unexplained sores around the mouth
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Experiencing sore throats that have no known cause or explanation
  • Red, puffy or blurry eyes
  • Appearing intoxicated or drunk without drinking – swaying, unsteady on the feet, or difficulty speaking
  • Engaging in secretive behavior – suddenly withdrawing from friends/family or lying about where money is going or what they are doing
  • Sudden increase in the number of whipped cream canisters around – purchasing a professional-grade whipped cream dispenser when there is no interest in cooking or baking is another indicator
  • Keeping whippet paraphernalia around such as multiple tiny canisters (usually silver in color), packets of balloons, whipped cream canisters or other canisters that have the same dispensing mechanism like some household cleaners, or cracking machines

If you suspect a loved one may be abusing whippets, it is important to get them help by encouraging them to take part in a substance abuse treatment program. The sooner you get them help, the less likely they are to suffer long term, irreversible damage from their inhalant abuse.

Chapman House Behavioral Health Centers, located in and around Orange County, has helped individuals of all ages, from young adults to seniors, overcome substance abuse disorders and find sobriety. Our drug abuse treatment programs can help you, or a loved one, safely detox while providing access to behavioral therapy, support groups and other resources that help you learn valuable skills you need to achieve sobriety.

Don’t wait to get help. Chapman House Behavioral Health Centers is here to help. Contact us now to see how we can help you or a loved one start on the path to recovery.



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