Demi’s Heartbreak Breakdown

Demi Moore has had a trying year.

The 49 year old actress filed for divorce from husband Ashton Kutcher, 33, after allegations of infidelity. Friends are concerned that she’s lost weight and looks  gaunt.

And this week, she was hospitalized after an emergency 9-1-1 call. According to her rep:

Because of the stresses in her life right now, Demi has chosen to seek professional assistance to treat her exhaustion and improve her overall health. She looks forward to getting well and is grateful for the support of her family and friends.

Now new information is emerging that “paramedics on scene were told Demi had been doing whip-its … inhaling nitrous oxide immediately before she fell into semi-consciousness and had seizure-like symptoms.”

What are Nitrous Oxide Whip-its?

While most people use nitrous oxide canisters to make whipped cream,  some inhale them for a brief, euphoric high.

Inhalants are a diverse group of volatile substances whose chemical vapors can be inhaled to produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. They are especially popular in young children and adolescents as they can be easily obtained.

Inhalants can be breathed in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways (known as “huffing”), such as sniffing or snorting fumes from a container, spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth, or placing an inhalant-soaked rag in the mouth. Users may also inhale fumes from a balloon or a plastic or paper bag that contains an inhalant.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or sweet air, is a chemical compound with the formula N2O. At room temperature, it is a colorless non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odor and taste. It is used in surgery and dentistry for its anesthetic and analgesic effects. It is known as “laughing gas” due to the euphoric effects of inhaling it, a property that has led to its recreational use.

How Do Inhalants Affect the Brain?

The effects of inhalants are similar to those of alcohol, including slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria (extreme happiness), and dizziness.

With repeated inhalations, many users feel less inhibited and less in control. Some may feel drowsy for several hours and experience a lingering headache.

Chemicals found in different types of inhaled products may produce a variety of additional effects, such as confusion, nausea, or vomiting.

By displacing air in the lungs, inhalants deprive the body of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia can damage cells throughout the body, but the cells of the brain are especially sensitive to it.

The symptoms of brain hypoxia vary according to which regions of the brain are affected: for example, the hippocampus helps control memory, so someone who repeatedly uses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations.

What Other Adverse Effects Do Inhalants Have on Health?

Sniffing highly concentrated amounts of the chemicals in solvents or aerosol sprays can directly induce heart failure and death within minutes of a session of repeated inhalation. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. Sudden sniffing death is particularly associated with the abuse of butane, propane, and chemicals in aerosols.

High concentrations of inhalants may also cause death from suffocation by displacing oxygen in the lungs, causing the user to lose consciousness and stop breathing. Deliberately inhaling from a paper or plastic bag or in a closed area greatly increases the chances of suffocation.

Harmful Irreversible Effects

Hearing loss—spray paints, glues, dewaxers, dry-cleaning chemicals, correction fluids
Peripheral neuropathies or limb spasms—glues, gasoline, whipped cream dispensers, gas cylinders
Central nervous system or brain damage—spray paints, glues, dewaxers

This is a wake up call for Demi. I hope she uses the opportunity to get the help she needs.

Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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