Abusing Whip Its

Abusing Whip Its and How it Can Lead to Death

You know that canister of whipped cream in the fridge? Well, that is a health risk—not the whipped cream itself (unless you are watching your calories), of course, but it is the nitrous oxide booster that turns the contents into whipped cream that can cause serious harm to a young person hell bent on experiencing “whip-its.”  Whip-its is just another variation of the dangerous inhalant craze among kids and teens, and understanding how they are abusing whip its can arm parents to be on the look out so they can take action.

It isn’t just teens who are in on this bizarre recreational drug experience.  Actress Demi Moore was hospitalized at age 50 due to binging on nitrous oxide from industrial grad whipped cream chargers.  In the dental profession where nitrous is commonly used to aid patients during dental procedures, dental associations have had to create treatment programs for dentists and hygienists who ended up addicted to the gas.

As fringe as the practice of whip-it abuse seems, more than 12 million Americans have fessed up to trying it, according statistics reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Abusing nitrous oxide, whether is via a whipped cream canister, a booster, a helium tank, or a balloon, is a silly and potentially deadly, practice.

About Whip-Its and Nitrous Oxide Abuse

The name “whip its” refers to getting high from sucking the nitrous oxide out of whipped cream canisters.  The broader base of the term refers to any form of nitrous oxide abuse, including inhaling straight from the canisters of nitrous for filling helium balloons or the small nitrous whipped cream chargers used in restaurants.  Also called “hippie crack,” “laughing gas,” “ballooning,” “noz,” and “chargers,” whip its are readily available at raves, dance clubs, rock concerts, and parties in balloon form.

Nitrous oxide is a colorless, non-flammable gas that has a sweet scent.  It is used as an analgesic during medical procedures, such as dentistry or outpatient surgeries.  Because the nitrous oxide canisters are legal to purchase for the legitimate purposes of blowing up balloons for a party, the gas is readily available.  Likewise, any dairy case will offer a selection of whipped cream products.  The individual abuses them in various ways, including:

  • Inhaling the gas rapidly from a canister or charger, sometimes punctured and vapors inhaled through the nose
  • Sucking the gas out of a whipped cream canister before shaking the product. The nitrous oxide functions as a propellant to push the whipped cream out of the can
  • Sucking the gas from a balloon
  • Inhaling the gas with a bag over the head

Health Dangers of Abusing Whip Its

The “high” experienced by inhaling nitrous oxide is very brief, literally lasting only three minutes.  For this reason, individuals desiring to produce a longer last effect will repeat the process of inhaling the vapors multiple times.  The high is described as producing sensations of euphoria, lightheadedness, feeling uninhibited, and experiencing hallucinations.

Inhaling nitrous is extremely dangerous.  Unlike its use in the medical or dental field where oxygen is added, straight nitrous oxide can cause serious health dangers.  These dangers include:

  • Accidents due to dizziness and lack of coordination that results
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Freeze facial tissue
  • Slowed body movement
  • Slurred speech
  • Brain damage
  • Heart damage
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Limb spasms
  • Bone marrow damage
  • Hypoxia, deprivation of oxygen to brain and bodily tissues and sometimes fatal
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency that can lead to subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, leaving the user with permanent nerve damage, causing stiff limbs, weakness, tingly hands, and a sense of grogginess
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Inhaling own vomit leading to death (suffocation)

The condition called Sudden Sniffing Death can occur after just one use of a highly concentrated use of the gas, often with a bag over their head or a mask.  This can cause the heart to stop within moments.

Inhalant Abuse Facts

The inhalant category of recreational drug abuse is experiencing a new wave of popularity.  Using common household products makes the practice on inhalant abuse one that impacts kids and teens primarily.  Adolescents seeking high-risk behaviors that are typically fueled by teens on YouTube videos may be drawn in on a dare or simply out of curiosity.  Often, these teens are not informed about the dangers that inhalants pose to their health and wellbeing.

Of all the inhalants being abused, the nitrous oxide category is the most popular.  Other inhalants of abuse include Dust-Off, Freon, glue, spray paints, gasoline, lighter fluid, vegetable oil sprays, felt-tip marker fluid, paint thinner, butane lighters, and leather cleaner.

The Treatment Specialist Locates High Quality Addiction Treatment Programs

The Treatment Specialist is a resource center for individuals or their loved ones who are in need of addiction or mental health treatment.  Abusing Whip its can have devastating long-term effects.  The Treatment Specialist’s free service can connect you to the best treatment program for your or your teens unique needs and preferences.

By addressing the tendency toward addictive or compulsive behaviors head on, important changes can be made before there are serious health or emotional consequences.  Parents who suspect their teen might be engaging in inhalant abuse or abusing whip its should contact The Treatment Specialist today at (866) 644-7911.

About the Author

Marissa Katrin Maldonado has been working in the field of addiction and behavioral health since 2006. She has been dedicated to helping individuals and families find treatment for addiction, dual diagnosis, mental health, and eating disorder conditions. Marissa received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from San Francisco State University and her Masters Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Management at the University of Redlands, School of Business.

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