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Whippits: Everything You Need to Know

Whippits are a type of inhalant that produce short-lived highs. Lasting only a few minutes, people often continuously inhale for long periods of time to prolong the experience. This can have potentially deadly side effects.

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What Are Whippits?

Whippits, also known as whippets or whip-its, are nitrous oxide dispensers commonly used in whipped cream dispensers. Nitrous oxide, sometimes referred to by slang terms ‘laughing gas’ or ‘hippy crack’, is used as an anesthetic for some procedures such as small dental work. It is a legal and readily available substance, making it an increasingly popular recreational drug. Its medical use along with how easy it is to purchase can lead to the development of misconceptions regarding safety of use.

While many drugs can be used through inhalation, ‘inhalants’ are substances that are typically used only by inhaling. In most cases, inhalants are commonly found household products that have potential to be misused due to their ability to produce mind-altering side effects when inhaled. Inhalants are incredibly toxic, causing damage to both the brain and nervous system.

Teens, Adolescents, and Whippits

The ease of access in addition to the short duration of its effects makes whippits most popularly used among younger populations in social settings. Experimentation can occur without lingering indicators that could alert others to substance abuse. While the risks associated with inhalant abuse are high regardless of age, adolescents are particularly at risk for adverse effects because they are undergoing a period of significant development, which can lead to a more profound negative impact on long-term cognitive functioning.

Are Whippits Addictive?

Inhalants, like whippits, are not typically addictive, but that does not mean an addiction cannot develop. Like with any substance, repeated use and increased tolerance can lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Substances like nitrous oxide become addictive because people can become dependent on the psychological effects of the drug. Rather than a physical craving needing to be fulfilled, psychological dependencies are an addiction to achieving a particular mental feeling. In many cases, this can be attributed to another underlying cause or motivation.

If a person needs to be under the influence to feel “normal”, uses substances as a method of escaping stress, experiences health problems related to substance use, or is unable to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home, it is likely an addiction has developed.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms When You Stop Using Whippits?

When an addiction develops, stopping use can lead to the experience of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity, and while they are generally not life-threatening, they can be uncomfortable. Common withdrawal symptoms associated with whippit abuse include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Disruptions to sleep patterns
  • Mood changes

Depending on the severity of withdrawal symptoms, professional intervention may be required. More often than not, professional treatment is not required for withdrawal symptoms, and is instead, needed to address the myriad of health consequences associated with whippit abuse.

Can You Overdose on Whippits?

Overdoses can occur when using whippits and more often than not, it is life-threatening.  Inhaling too much can cause a toxic reaction that may lead to seizures, coma, and death. In some cases, a person’s heart can stop within minutes of inhaling resulting in sudden sniffing death, which has occurred even in otherwise healthy people. Depending on how it is being inhaled, inhalants can cause death due to suffocation.  If an overdose occurs, treating it often requires emergency services.

Common Side Effects of Whippit Abuse

Whippits can produce a variety of short-term and long-term effects. Inhalants are incredibly toxic and can produce side effects in a relatively short amount of time. They are known to slow down brain activity and impair cognitive function. Some of the most immediate side effects of whippits include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination

In some cases, a person can experience delusions or hallucinations with repeated inhalations. Continued use can lead to the development of headaches, vomiting, prolonged drowsiness, and loss of consciousness.

Due to their toxicity, inhalants can have significant long-term effects as well. This may include:

  • Organ damage, including lungs, heart, kidney, and liver
  • Brain damage
  • Spasms due to nerve damage
  • Loss of coordination
  • Delayed behavioral development

Chronic use can lead to the development of neurological conditions that may range in severity. Many of the long-term effects of inhalant abuse are irreversible. This is because inhalants can damage the protective sheath around nerve fibers in the brain and nervous system. It can cause extensive damage comparable to neurological diseases and may lead to the development of long-term abnormalities or impairments.

Treatment for Whippit Abuse

Because whippit abuse does not often lead to addiction, treatment often relies on changing the thoughts and behaviors that enable continued abuse. Use of whippits and other inhalants is often a social activity, and it can be difficult to break patterns of use because it requires behavioral changes in order to be successful. Rather than treating symptoms, treatment often focuses on therapies that change behaviors.

Although everyone has different needs in treatment, many people have found behavioral therapies to be beneficial. One of the most effective forms of treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy works by helping clients identify the thoughts and behaviors that influence continued substance abuse. After identifying these influences, clients are able to proactively develop the tools and skills needed to either cope with or avoid the triggering environments and influences that enable substance abuse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is effective because of its ability to highlight how changing thoughts and behaviors can positively impact a person’s quality of life.

By uncovering the underlying influences in continued whippit abuse, cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a person replace substance use with healthy coping mechanisms. Depending on individual circumstances, this may include:

  • Identifying the presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder and providing relevant treatment
  • Changing the thoughts and behaviors that drive continued substance abuse
  • Assessing the impact of social and environmental factors

Cognitive-behavioral therapy provides clients with a way to see how these various aspects of their lives connect and influence substance use.

Like other approaches to treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy requires regular attendance and commitment to change in order to be impactful. Depending on individual needs, this treatment approach may be used in conjunction with other forms of therapy to improve outcomes.

Treatment Options at Boca Recovery Center

Boca Recovery Center offers a wide array of treatment options for those who are struggling with addiction. Services are structured with several levels of care, ensuring clients receiving treatment will have support designed to meet their changing needs throughout recovery. Each level of care offers individualized treatment options with varying levels of intensity depending on a client’s unique needs and circumstances. Boca Recovery Center provides:

  • Medical detox
  • Residential treatment
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Outpatient

Throughout the recovery process, a variety of specialty therapies may be utilized to address the specific needs of clients. Every client’s experience is unique and not every therapy option is equally effective. By providing specialty therapies, clients can deeply explore the root causes of addiction and address the behaviors or thought patterns that perpetuate continued abuse. This includes therapies such as:

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Trauma Informed
  • Family Therapy
  • Eating disorders

Boca Recovery Center provides individualized, professional care (remove this link) for clients at all stages of recovery. Coupling substance abuse treatment with a vast array of specialty therapy options ensures clients are provided with well-rounded, in-depth treatment to improve recovery outcomes. Treatment is a collaborative effort in which clients are empowered to take control of their recovery by building a robust foundation for life-long sobriety.

Updated June 7, 2023
  1. Inhalants Drug Facts. (April 2020). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  2. What are the other medical consequences of inhalant abuse? (February 2011). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  3. Recurrent paraparesis and death of a patient with ‘whippet’ abuse. (March 2016). US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. No Laughing Matter: Presence, Consumption Trends, Drug Awareness, and Perceptions of “Hippy Crack” (Nitrous Oxide) among Young Adults in England. (Jan 2018). US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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