The first time I heard about using empty whipped cream dispensers to get “high” was a long time

ago. I was living at my parents’ house after I had finished medical s chool in France. I had done my thesis as quickly as possible, in the fall. My residency was projected to start July first. I promised my parents I would do w hat I could to earn my keep. I sold kitchen cabinet fronts over the telephone, got involved in a chorus production of “Pirates of Penzance,” and substitute taught for awhile. As a substitute teacher in suburban Boston I was taught everything from senior h ygiene to 9th grade algebra. A principal saw me teach 9th grade algebra and tol d me the heck with the credentials — the way I put across factoring quadratics was good enough for him to take me on permanently. I was leading the class in yell ing, singing, and dancing “everybody factor.” And they were. I told him I was going Cincinnati to start a surgical residency. He stared at m e in disbelief. I told him I had more important news for him. Most of my ninth grade algebra class was addicted to whipped cream dispensers. A couple of the kids were working at an ice cream place across the street from t he school. They were enjoying the aerosol dispensers of whipped cream — far more w hen there was no whipped cream left inside. This was a sacrilege to a butterscot ch sundae lover such as me. And I knew even then this was not a totally harmles s addiction — at least not for long. I suggested to the principal that the kids needed to be educated about it. He g iggled a bit, barely managed to say “thank you,” and sauntered away. Forever. I have since learned these are called “Whip-Its,” and I have heard of no adult doing them until…Demi Moore? “Clinging to her lost youth,” they said. Freon addiction is a form of inhalant abuse. It seems that the “high” that is assoc iated with these substances is mostly from nitrous oxide — which is believed to be relatively safe. I mean, this is the “laughing gas” that people get at the dentist . The cases that are most worrisome involve refrigerants, from refrigerators an d air conditioners, which presumably have lots of the stuff. Needless to say, huffing various substances can be a deadly addiction. Back when I was a resident, we saw young kids “huff” things like acetone and turpent ine and the like. I remember people got started with “airplane glue.” It had been s cary enough when I was little that my Mother-of-Blessed-Memory limited the time my brother and I spent with the “gluing” process when putting models together. These substances were highly addictive and young people died from liver failure. It was sad and horrible. If you look around online, there is plenty of information directed at parents of teens who are supposed to learn how to detect inhalant abuse in their illustrio us offspring. At any rate, it has also been said that in addition to Whip-Its, Demi Moore was also doing K2 Spice. Most of the pages about it on the internet are about how t o get it. It is some kind of incense, sometimes touted as “natural,” sometimes synt hetic, and sometimes as a substitute for marijuana. Bunches of research and analyses, mostly performed in Germany, have shown that c ompounds such as K2 Spice that claim to be “all natural” contain other nasty stuff. Not only do they lack the natural substances projected, but may have all kinds of synthetic “cannabinoids” that often include controlled substances, prescriptions, and “stuff” of all sorts. I can tell you for sure there is no real documentation o r studies of effects.

Originally, it seems the idea was to choose substances that would fly “under the r adar” so that only legal substances would be involved. About a year ago, our friends at the DEA did an emergency ban, but I do not know its present state. If you poke around online, it’s pretty easy to find descriptions of what the drug can do. The original idea seems to have given way to something pretty out of co ntrol. I am continuously impressed by what people try to take to get “high.” I am negative ly impressed by the self-destructive nature of some of our entertainers. I do not want to visit this world, if I can help it. And I can. Chemical substa nces are not the best “feel good” route, nor are they a defense for aging. There ar e healthier ways to achieve these ends. I wish the principal at that high schoo l so many years back would have told those kids that. And maybe somebody should tell Demi Moore, too.

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