Whippet Inhalant Abuse

One of the deadliest types of drugs is inhalants. Whippet inhalant abuse is an often under-reported problem, despite the inherent dangers, and it is on the rise. Regardless of this fact, inhalant abuse usually flies under the radar and hardly gets any public attention.


What is a “whippet”?  The street names include:  “whip-its,” “whippits,” and “nossies.” They are steel cylinders filled with nitrous oxide, or “NOX.” The intended use is in dentists’ offices before novocaine injections or dental procedures.


The most salient problem with whippet inhalant abuse is that the products are legal to purchase, possess, and anyone can easily obtain them. Some of the most common inhalants are usually found with a cursory search of a household. Whippet inhalants can be anything from gasoline to cooking spray, even whipped cream can be used as an inhalant. Practically anything that gives off fumes can be used as an inhalant, to deadly effect. The fact that these products are relatively cheap, easy to obtain, and do not give off the outward appearance of being dangerous themselves makes it a difficult problem to spot.


The act of inhaling, or “huffing,” creates a sensation similar to drinking, is instant, wears off quickly, and is incredibly easy to do. These factors all create an issue that can easily turn into a deadly habit, sometimes even killing first-time users. Since the buzz wears off fairly quickly, users will often repeat the process multiple times increasing the damage caused.


The high that huffing offers is caused by the lack of oxygen to the brain, literally killing brain cells. As such, huffing can lead to permanent brain damage. Furthermore, huffing can cause liver damage, muscle spasms, and even cardiac arrest.


Huffing prevalence of huffing in different age groups has changed throughout the years. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2015 found that adolescent use is once again on the rise. However, previous inhalant abuse studies found a significant use in adults as well. Regardless of the population abusing whippet inhalants, it remains a deadly habit. It is also incredibly difficult to treat.


While all substance use disorders pose great obstacles to treatment, inhalant abuse is significantly harder to treat. Inhalant relapse rate is staggering. One of the reasons inhalant abuse so difficult to treat is because it often leads to mental illness, exacerbating the problem. Inhalant abuse frequently requires longer treatment times and more intense therapy for this addiction.


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