More Young People Getting High With Whip Its Nitrous Oxide Cannisters
Gas that sent Demi Moore to hospital is nation's most popular inhalant
(Photo courtesy of www.easywhip.com)
Young people have used inhalants to get high for some time, but the most popular inhalants right now are small canisters of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminsitration says Whip-Its, also used as chargers for whipped cream canisters, are used by more than 12 million people in the U.S. every year as a way of inducing a drug high. They are also popular with young people because they can't be detected on drug tests that are now required by many employers. "It typically goes out of the system very quickly and is not picked up by tox screens," says Nancy Beals, program coordinator for Drug Free Marion County. "The high is very brief, and that creates repetitive use."
The use of Whip Its, or Noz as some are known commerically, gained nationwide attention in January when actress Demi Moore was rushed to the hospital. Reports said Moore had inhaled a dangerous amount of nitrous oxide. There are also dozens of videos on YouTube showing people using Whip Its or other inhalants. "The problem, of course, is that it's so deadly," says Beals. "Sudden sniffing syndrome can be deadly with the first use."
Using inhalants, or huffing as it is sometimes called, can cut off oxygen to the brain. "We see signficant brain damage and/or lung damage, because the chemicals are either going straight to the brain or coating the lungs and creating problems in the lungs," Beals says.
Inhalants are also typically used in many homes, so they are almost impossible to outlaw. Whip Its are easily purchased in some stores and, increasingly, online.
Beals says you have to be vigilant to know whether a child or loved one is using Whip Its or other inhalants. "You want to look for red, irritated eyes," Beals says. "Are your kids using a lot of Wite Out? Are they using a lot of markers? Are they using a lot of aerosol products? For a while, Axe deodorant was very popular because it had inhalant capabilities. If you're kid is using more deodorant than they should, it might be a signal they are using it inappropriately."