What Are Whippets?

in Addiction
Published Jul 8, 2021

Whippet is a street name for a type of inhalant drug. It comes in a steel container filled with nitrous oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas,” a colorless, odorless substance often utilized for dental procedures. The steel cartridges are also used in whipped cream dispensers. While these cartridges are perfectly legal, nitrous oxide can be extremely dangerous when used recreationally. Whippets are becoming increasingly popular and are known for the brief but very euphoric high they can cause. Because they are legal, cheap, easy to hide and obtain, whippets are particularly popular with teens and young adults. However, long-term and excessive whippet use can lead to severe and even life-threatening health consequences. 

What Are the Side Effects of Using Whippets?

It is often thought that it takes a longer time to become addicted to whippets than other types of inhalants. However, that does not mean that becoming addicted to them is not possible. An individual may experience adverse side effects if they go from using whippets heavily to not using them at all. These side effects could include:

  • Intense cravings
  • Trouble focusing 
  • Frequent Mood Swings
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 


When whippets are used heavily over a long period, they can inactivate vitamin B12, which is essential for critical bodily processes. As a result, an individual’s fingers can go numb. This can eventually lead to further problems such as peripheral neuropathy and megaloblastic anemia. 

Whippets can also lead to a variety of both short and long-term health complications. Some short-term side effects can include but are not limited to:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Poor coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Moodiness 


Some long term side effects of whippet use can include: 

  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage or failure 
  • Heart dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • Paranoia
  • Brain Damage
  • Spasms


If an individual is experiencing any of these symptoms, they should immediately seek medical attention before their condition progresses. 

Is It Possible to Overdose on an Inhalant Like This?

Despite common misconceptions, it is possible to overdose on whippets. Even someone who is young and otherwise healthy can experience whippet overdose. When using whippets heavily, the heart becomes strained and can stop completely. The individual may begin to experience seizures. When this occurs, they will require medical attention immediately. First responders will attempt to treat the overdose by restarting the heart through a defibrillator, chest compressions, or rescue breaths. 

How Many People Are Engaging In Whippet Use?

The age demographic in which individuals are starting to engage in whippet use is shockingly low; this is likely due to how easy whippets are to obtain. In 2015, the Substance Use And Health Administration (SAMHSA) researched what age group most used inhalants to get high and what types of inhalants they most commonly used. They determined that in just 2015 alone, about 684,000 United States adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 engaged in inhalant use. Additionally, those within the 12 to 17 age bracket were more likely than adults (those 18 years of age and older) to use inhalants over the course of the past year. 

The types of inhalants that were utilized varied. They included everything from magic markers to spray paint, glue, shoe polish, paint solvents, gasoline, lighter fluid, and other aerosol sprays. It was also determined that around 112,000 individuals within this particular age bracket used whippets. 

It is particularly dangerous that so many people are using whippets at such a young age because of the effects they can have on the brain. When individuals are teenagers, their brains are still developing, and whippets can wreak havoc on their mental health. In addition, using whippets may lead to different kinds of substance use, such as alcohol consumption and other types of drug misuse. 

How Do I Get Treatment For an Addiction Like This?

Someone that is addicted to whippets should seek help from their primary care provider immediately. A primary care provider will be able to provide referrals to an in-patient or out-patient detox center and provide any medications that may be necessary to treat the unpleasant withdrawal side effects that can come along with discontinued whippet use, they also will treat the vitamin B12 deficiency. After detox, the individual will likely still need to undergo some continued treatment to ensure they do not relapse. Continued treatment could be in the form of residential rehab, therapy, or a support group. 

Whippets are a type of inhalant drug composed of nitrous oxide. They are legal, cheap, and easy to obtain and hide, making them particularly popular with teens and young adults. While it typically takes longer to become addicted to whippets as opposed to other types of inhalants, addiction is possible. Whippets are particularly dangerous because they inhibit vitamin B12, which is necessary for vital bodily functions. Whippets can cause numbness in the fingers, which can eventually lead to peripheral neuropathy. Heavy whippet use can also lead to various short and long-term health consequences such as seizures, liver and lung damage, heart dysfunction, and brain damage. Studies show that it is primarily those between the ages of 12 and 17 who are using whippets. If you or someone you know has a problem using whippets, our team at Gallus Medical Detox Centers is here to help. Our mission is to provide the highest quality inpatient medical detox services and be the best first step in overcoming substance use disorders. Call (866) 296-5242 to learn more about our Denver and Phoenix detox programs.