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Aactress Demi Moore attends the premiere of "Margin Call" in New York on Oct. 17, 2011.

Peter Kramer/Associated Press/Peter Kramer/Associated Press

Demi Moore was rushed to hospital late Monday night because of "exhaustion," her publicist says.

But the rumour mill has another explanation: party drugs. According to TMZ.com, the 49-year-old actress developed seizure-like symptoms after indulging in whip-its, a.k.a. "laughing gas."

Nitrous oxide, commonly used as a sedative in dentistry, can cause nausea, vomiting and lack of co-ordination and balance. For college students on a budget, though, it's a cheap thrill that brings on euphoria, dizziness – and a serious case of the giggles.

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Ms. Moore could no doubt use some cheering up. In photos leading up to her recent split from Ashton Kutcher, she looks depressed and downright skeletal.

The question is, if the reports are true, why would someone of Ms. Moore's stature bother messing around with whip-its? The easiest method involves inhaling the gas from a whipped cream container (given Ms. Moore's thinness, it's hard to imagine her having one in the house). As Gawker.com put it, "whip-its are good for a giggle, but can't she afford like, you know, real drugs?"

A statement from the actress's publicist hints that substance abuse may indeed have played a role in her collapse. "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," the publicist said

Whispers of "rehab" are increasing now that Ms. Moore has reportedly dropped out of her role in Lovelace, a biopic about the late porn star Linda Lovelace.

So let's say, for the sake of argument, that Ms. Moore was suffering from the effects of substance abuse. Why are reporters jumping to conclusions that a college drug was to blame?

The media's refusal to let Ms. Moore lick her wounds and shed her party-crazy cougar image likely isn't helping the beleaguered star, whose self-esteem appears to be shattered.

In the February edition of Harper's Bazaar, the actresses confesses to having a "love-hate relationship" with her body and to feeling "not worthy of being loved."

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For an actress nearing 50 with three children and a storied career behind her, that's no laughing matter.

Do you believe the reports that Demi Moore was doing whip-its? Do you think her troubles stem from her attempts to remain forever young?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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