It’s time to get serious about Whip-Its.

That’s the name given to tiny canisters filled with nitrous oxide. They’re used to make whipped cream, which is why they’re nicknamed Whip-Its. But according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, they’re more commonly used today as a party drug! In fact, they’ve been in the news since actress Demi Moore reportedly used them in January, before being rushed to the hospital. And a new survey shows that over 12 million North Americans have tried using Whip-Its at least once.

Experts say the problem with nitrous oxide, also known as “noz”, is when people inhale it, the gas triggers a brief high that can last anywhere from a few seconds, to several minutes. And because nitrous oxide doesn’t show up on drug tests, many people assume it’s safe. That’s why you’ll find hundreds of YouTube videos, showing teens inhaling Whip-Its, and portraying it as a harmless, fun activity.

The reality is that it can be deadly! That’s because inhaling nitrous oxide can cut off oxygen to the brain, and cause brain damage, or severe problems with the heart and nervous system. 

There have even been recent cases of people dying from asphyxiation after inhaling Whip-Its.

The good news is that some states are passing new laws trying to make it harder to buy nitrous oxide in any form. That’s because many online retailers, for example, sell cases of nitrous oxide chargers, with no questions asked.

Also know this, kids can get the same high from a canister of whipped cream bought at the grocery store, or from tanks of nitrous oxide bought on eBay.

Want to go further? Go to the Website for substance abuse: SAMHSA.gov.