What are whippits? Whippits, whippets, whip-its, nitrous oxide, hippie crack, or laughing gas—it’s all referring to a dental pain reliever turned party drug. While dentists still use laughing gas to help with pain relief, it hurts individuals who use it as unintended. Nitrous oxide abuse may not be as known as other substance use disorders, but it can destroy people’s lives just like any other drug. Unfortunately, whippit abuse plagues thousands of individuals across the globe, even in 2021. Luckily, a nitrous oxide addiction is treatable with the right help.
What Are Whippits?
Whippits are small cartridges of an invisible gas called nitrous oxide. They are also known as nitrous oxide chargers. In order to use whippits, individuals use a whipped cream dispenser with a sharp pin to break into a seal and inhale the nitrous oxide that comes out. Inhaling nitrous oxide can make people giggly, which is why it’s also known as laughing gas.
11 Facts About Whippits To Know In 2021
1. Whippits Are Legal
Legal drugs can be especially dangerous for multiple reasons. For one, they are easily accessible. This means that young people can easily access legal drugs, making them even more dangerous.
Unlike alcohol, whippits are available to buy for anyone 18 or older in the United States. Whippits are also sold nationwide, making appearances in smoke shops and gas stations.
Therefore, young adults wondering what are whippits don’t need to look further than their local convenience stores to find out.
Unfortunately, the brains of young adults aren’t fully developed. This causes young adults, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties, to be reckless, which, in turn, can cause young adults to misuse nitrous oxide without thinking of the consequences. It also doesn’t help that, American adults readily have access to nitrous oxide and may even drive under its influence since there is no breathalyzer test for whippets.
2. Inhaling Drugs Like Nitrous Oxide Is Dangerous
A study from 2015 shows that nitrous oxide slows down brain waves. This study measured the brain waves of individuals who were administered nitrous oxide. Participants of the study were given a dose of nitrous oxide that a doctor or dentist would use as anesthesia.
The researchers of the study were surprised to find that the participants’ brains were firing off slow-delta waves. These brain waves are associated with the deepest stages of sleep. However, people can typically wake up from the deepest stages of sleep. Plus, the brain waves measured were twice the size of slow-delta waves that occur during sleep.
This means that under the influence of nitrous gas, the participants of the 2015 study were basically in a drug-induced coma temporarily. The lack of oxygen over time from inhaling drugs like whippits with no ability to stop can interfere with the respiratory system as a whole.
3. Whippits Only Last For a Short Time
Despite how dangerous whippits can be, the high from the substance only lasts for around 15 seconds, with a half-life of five minutes. While this may make whippits seem less dangerous, in many ways it makes whippits more dangerous. The reason why is that people will continuously binge this drug to feel high for more than that short period of time.
As a result, people who abuse whippits may take too much of the substance without realizing it. Doing that is very dangerous. This is because too much whippits can cause dire effects, similar to overdosing on other drugs.
4. Nitrous Oxide Is Safe With Medical Supervision
Even though nitrous oxide abuse can be wildly dangerous, it’s typically safe in a medical setting. Medical professionals may safely use whippits to relieve people of pain. Nitrous oxide can even act as weak anesthesia during the end of surgery. But the fact is that when people engage in nitrous oxide abuse, they aren’t aware of how much they are consuming.
In short, nitrous oxide can be good and bad depending on its use. The laughing gas version of nitrous oxide that’s sold at smoke shops and convenience stores comes in containers that are opened with canisters. Medical professionals never administer nitrous oxide in this way. Plus, when medical professionals do administer nitrous oxide, their patients are medically supervised the entire time.
5. Nitrous Oxide Is Dangerous For Those With a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A journal within PubMed cites five cases where people with a vitamin B12 deficiency suffered from a neurologic deficit after nitrous oxide anesthesia. A neurologic deficit is when a part of the body loses functionality, particularly parts associated with the brain and spine.
In each of the five cases in the PubMed journal, those with a vitamin B12 deficiency didn’t realize that they had this problem. However, after anesthesia, each person with a vitamin B12 deficiency had a neurologic deficit pertaining to his or her spinal cord.
The journal states that if the effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency on the body of a person that received nitrous oxide were to remain unknown, receiving nitrous oxide while having a vitamin B12 deficiency could result in death.
6. Laughing Gas Has Been Around For Centuries
In 1772, an English chemist synthesized nitrous oxide for the first time. A couple of decades later, a man named Humphry Davy realized that nitrous oxide could act as a psychoactive drug.
Humphry Davy’s recordings of how nitrous oxide alters the mind dates back to the year 1800. This is because nitrous oxide abuse has always been around. In fact, it was briefly a party drug at that time.
In 1844, almost a century after nitrous oxide was synthesized for the first time, a dentist named Horace Wells found that nitrous oxide could be used as anesthesia. Dentists still use laughing gas to this day, but now mix it with at least 30% oxygen. This reduces any of the dangerous side effects of nitrous oxide. Some women also use nitrous oxide to help them manage pain during child labor.
7. Nitrous Oxide Abuse Happens For a Reason
People use whippits as a party drug because of their dissociative effects. Inhaling drugs in the dissociative class can make people feel giddy, euphoric, and almost like they are floating. Nitrous oxide use even produces somewhat of an out-of-body experience.
Even though whippets are legal, they can induce auditory and visual hallucinations. While most hallucinations are not intense, some people have reported detailed, dream-like hallucinations after consuming whippits. Therefore, although they are legal, they are also powerful.
8. People Can Have a Nitrous Oxide Addiction
A myth is that a nitrous oxide addiction isn’t real. In fact, this is completely false. Although it isn’t as common as other substance use disorders, people can develop a psychological dependence on whippits. People suffering from a nitrous oxide addiction will not be able to stop consuming it even if there are consequences as a result.
People can become addicted to anything. Whippets cause an intense, short high that makes addiction more of a possibility. Those suffering from a mental health disorder may be particularly prone to developing a nitrous oxide addiction. Inhaling drugs like this can offer people that suffer from mental illness a brief relief from any mental anguish, especially because of the dissociative effects of nitrous oxide.
9. Whippits Gets Its Name From Whipped Cream Canisters
Whippets get their name from a whipped cream canister. This is because there is nitrous oxide inside whipped cream canisters to push the whipped cream out when people push down on the nozzle. Therefore, whippits act as a propellant and also as a preservative.
People inhale whippits through a reusable whipped cream dispenser. However, people use this drug by putting a tiny metal canister containing nitrous oxide in whip cream dispensers in place of whipped cream to “charge it”. Another name for whippits is nitrous oxide chargers. Puncturing this canister lets out a burst of pure pressurized nitrous oxide.
10. Famous People Have Had a Nitrous Oxide Addiction
Even though nitrous oxide addictions aren’t particularly common, a few celebrities have become victims of nitrous oxide abuse. One well-known case is Steve-O. A few years ago he shared an old photo of himself surrounded by whippets and holding a canister. His post on Twitter reveals that he had a nitrous oxide addiction and was committed to a psych ward in 2008 partially for this reason. In the post, he says that he has since given up substances and has been sober for 10 years.
A more recent case is when Demi Moore was rushed to the hospital after inhaling nitrous oxide. After inhaling whippits, she was rushed to the hospital after experiencing a seizure. After her hospitalization, she went to rehab to receive treatment for a substance use disorder.
11. Whippits Are Still a Problem In 2021
The New York Times wrote a piece in early 2021 that states that laughing gas is still a problem to this day all over the world. The New York Times noted that recently the former chief executive of Zappos, a popular online shoe store, died in a fire. When investigators observed the scene, they found multiple whip-its and a whipping cream dispenser. It was a known fact that the person who possessed these items had a problem inhaling drugs that made him dissociate
In the piece, they also write that a medical director at a popular rehab facility had noticed an increase in cases of nitrous oxide abuse. They also note that multiple studies show that whippits are especially a problem for young adults.
One study from December 2020 shows that whippits are the most used drug after marijuana in British young adults ages 16-24. Another study from 2020 shows that more young people in the Netherlands were hospitalized because of neurologic complaints, possibly due to inhaling drugs like nitrous oxide.
Anyone Can Overcome a Nitrous Oxide Addiction With Help
At Harmony Ridge, we treat various types of substance use disorders, including nitrous oxide addictions. Wondering what are whippits addiction recovery programs? We’re able to offer evidence-based treatments to help individuals overcome their substance use disorders safely in West Virginia.
If you or a loved one struggles with nitrous oxide abuse, please contact us now. In the moment, it may seem impossible to overcome a substance use disorder, but with the help of Harmony Ridge, you can achieve long-lasting sobriety.