Nitrous oxide making its way into CHS drug culture

Did you know that whipped cream cans are used as an old method to get high? But inside a whipped cream can is a dose of nitrous oxide that, if inhaled, can get you high or cost you your life.

There are many names for thiWhippets PICs inhalant, such as hippie crack and noz, but the name most commonly used for this drug is whippets. This drug has been around for quite a while, but has recently become more popular among CHS students.

According to CHS counselor Kate Miller, whippets, like any inhalant, are extremely dangerous to use.

“I have gotten reports about students using this drug, and I don’t believe they know just how dangerous they are,” says Miller, who teaches a course on drugs to students who have been suspended for drug use. She uses the program A Drug Free World, which teaches the truth about drugs.

According to an A Drug Free World pamphlet about inhalants, by using whippets a user is at risk of Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. This sudden death can occur the first time someone decides to use whippets or the tenth time. Another risk of using whippets, according to U.S. News writer Winston Ross’ article, is the risk of getting a frostbite-like result.

Even knowing some of the dangers of this inhalant, some Carmel students still decide to use them.

“Yes, I know there are some dangers of using them, but I feel that is only if the user doesn’t use it correctly,” a Carmel High senior boy says. “But I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be. Plus, if nitrous oxide was so dangerous, then why does your dentist use it when they are going to pull out a tooth?”

That is a good question: why do dentists use this when there are many dangers?

“There is a big difference when it comes to a dentist using nitrous oxide and someone using it to get high,” district nurse Susan Pierszalowski says. “A dentist measures how much nitrous oxide they give a patient and use it to relax a patient. These kids don’t know how much they are putting in their body, and because this high only lasts for a short amount of time, kids need more and give themselves more doses, not knowing how much is too much.”

According to a few CHS students, whippets are beginning to become one of the normal party drugs in the Carmel and Monterey area.

“I went to my friend’s birthday party the beginning of this year, and when I walked in there were a whole bunch of people sucking what I thought was air or helium out of balloons,” a Carmel High senior girl says. “They told me they were using whippets and that it gives you the best ‘high’ ever, so I tried it. Now I see them at every party I go to.”

Like many others, this senior girl was unaware of the dangers that can come from whippets.

“It gives such a good high, even though it is only for a short time,” a senior girl says, “but if I had known what could happen, I honestly don’t think I would have used it.”

According to Dave Dansky, attending physician of Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula’s emergency room, there are not too many reports made of inhalant abuse. The emergency room at CHOMP also does not test for drugs.

“It is kind of difficult to know 100% if someone is coming in because of inhalant abuse because when someone gets sick from drugs at a party, people tend to scatter and cover up their story,” Dansky says. “As bad as it may sound, we are probably the last people to know when someone comes in because of them.”

As Miller says, “Knowledge is power, and these kids need to know what this inhalant, or any drug, is about and what it can really do.”

-ELEXIS PEREZ