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Dangers of Whippets

Whippets (also commonly referred to as whippits or whip-its) have been around for a long time but often do not receive the same attention as other forms of substance abuse. Whippets are a way of abusing the substance nitrous oxide. When people think of whippets, they often think of aerosol cans of whipped cream and this is, in fact, a common form of the abused substance. Whippets are widely available legally and over-the-counter (OTC) making them accessible to those who are underage or adolescents. 

You might be surprised to learn that whippets, a form of inhalants, are actually one of the most popular abused substances in the United States. Some theories suggest this is partly due to their easy availability and inexpensive price. Inhalant use is not only prevalent among youth. Rates have also increased among adults in recent years. 

Whippets and Brain Development

Inhalant abuse can have a detrimental effect on brain development. This is why abuse of inhalant substances like whippets are especially worrisome among teens and young adults. A person under the age of 25 is still undergoing significant brain development. Even those over 18 years of age still have a prefrontal cortex that is not fully developed. This area of the brain is associated with connecting thoughts to actions and involves the ability to make judgments. 

Damage to the prefrontal cortex can permanently impair a person’s thought process and ability to make good judgments about choices and situations. A not yet fully developed brain is going to have trouble understanding the full ramifications of actions and this is, again, why abuse of substances like whippets are of such great concern for those who are adolescents and young adults. 

Oxygen Deprivation

A major risk associated with whippet abuse is negative consequences, including death, as a result of oxygen deprivation. Whippets are inhaled quickly. Individuals abusing whippets do not typically take fresh air breaths between doses of nitrous oxide. They are frequently abused in confined spaces without proper ventilation and oxygen flow. Some who abuse whippets go far as to put a plastic bag over their head while abusing the substance to get as much of the substance in their system as possible. This can lead to dangerously low levels of oxygen in a person’s bloodstream with potentially fatal results. 

People do not realize that when we talk about lack of oxygen it’s a matter of seconds and not minutes that makes a difference. Several seconds without any oxygen can cause substantial damage. Rapid brain damage is entirely possible with whippet and other inhalant abuse. 

Whippets and Vitamin B-12 Deficiency 

Vitamin B-12 is essential for keeping your body healthy. Specifically, B-12 plays a role in mood and mental health and, on a physiological level, ensures that blood and nerve cells remain healthy.

A B-12 deficiency can result in:

  • Balance issues
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory issues
  • Mouth and tongue soreness
  • Nerve problems
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Prolonged abuse of whippets can cause severe and potentially irreversible neurological damage. Extensive exposure to nitrous oxide is associated with the development of heart issues. 

Common Side Effects from Whippet Abuse

There are many side effects associated with whippet abuse. Even after short-term abuse, it is possible to experience effects that include:

  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Fainting
  • Depression
  • Excessive fatigue 
  • Memory impairment
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Long-term abuse of whippets can result in:

  • Memory loss
  • Birth defects (if abused while pregnant)
  • Brain and nerve damage 
    • Due to prolonged B-12 deficiency 
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Paralysis
    • Especially in legs 
  • Incontinence
  • Psychosis

Whippet Overdoses

Not everyone is aware that it is possible to overdose on whippets and other inhalants. 

The euphoric effects of nitrous oxide only last a few seconds. Those who seek to continue to feel high will often abuse whippets repeatedly over a short period of time. This can result in an overdose.

An overdose occurs when too much nitrous oxide is inhaled in a short period of time or as a result of long-term exposure.

Common signs of whippet overdose include:

  • Bluish tint to the lips, fingernails, and extremities 
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Chest tightness
  • Choking
  • Inflamed eyes, nose, and throat 
  • Hallucinations 

Common Forms of Inhalants 

Inhalants are a group of substances that produce vapors or fumes that can be abused. Common types of inhalants include solvents, aerosols, gases, as well as nitrites. 

Common household items that can be used as inhalants include but are not limited to::

  • Glues
  • Shoe polish
  • Cleaning fluids

Other inhalants include:

  • Spray paint
  • Gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • Nitrous oxide (whippets) 

Volatile Solvents

Volatile solvents are liquids that vaporize at room temperature. These can be everyday household products or industrial chemicals intended for manufacturing and professional settings. 

Examples of volatile solvents include:

  • Paint thinners 
  • Degreasers
  • Gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • White Out 
  • Felt-tip marker fluid or Sharpies
  • Electronic contact cleaners
  • Glue


Aerosols are sprays that contain propellants and solvents.

Examples include:

  • Household aerosol propellants 
    • Spray paints
    • Hair spray
    • Deodorant spray
    • Fabric protector spray
    • Aerosol computer cleaning products
    • Cooking oil sprays.


Gases are found in many household and commercial products. 

Examples include:

  • Whipped cream aerosols or dispensers (whippets)
  • Butane lighters
  • Propane tanks
  • Refrigerant gases

There are also medical anesthetics that can be abused. These include:

  • Nitrous oxide (commonly called “laughing gas”)
  • Ether
  • Chloroform
  • Halothane


A unique class of inhalants that are primarily known to be abused in the context of sexual encounters. Nitrites can be abused by those who are aiming to heighten sexual experiences. 

Contact Oasis Recovery to Seek Treatment Today

If you or someone you care about is experimenting with whippets, it’s important that you seek intervention as soon as possible. Whippets can result in permanent brain damage, body function problems, memory issues, and there is a high risk of irreversible side effects. 

Signs a person may be abusing whippets can include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Chapped lips or face
  • Usual odor on their breath 
  • Memory problems 
  • Sleep issues 
  • Vision issues 

At Oasis Recovery, we treat each client with dignity and respect. We understand that people turn to substance abuse for many reasons and blaming a person for their choices does not help solve the root cause of their issues. 

Our medical doctors and mental health counselors work with clients to create personalized treatment plans that are tailored to meet their individual needs. Trust us to keep you safe and secure while you focus on yourself and getting your life back on track. 

We encourage you to reach out to us today to speak with a specialist who can provide you with more information about our wide range of treatments and services.

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