It’s the same stuff dentists call “laughing gas” and use to numb the pain of dental surgery. Inhaling the chemical — which is classified as an inhalant — is akin to huffing spray paint and other aerosols and gives the user a brief high.
The high lasts just a minute or two and can cause euphoria, disorientation, fixated vision, pulsating visual hallucinations and an increased pain threshold according to several online sources. It can also, as may have happened with Moore, cause seizures and lead to brain damage, including memory loss.
“Essentially, you’re depriving the brain of oxygen,” one social worker tells the New York Daily News.
And, of course, mixing nitrous oxide with other drugs or alcohol increases the risk of injury or death.
The gas itself is not illegal — in fact, it can be found in cans of whipped cream and even purchased at many retailers, including Wal-Mart.
There is no official confirmation, by the way, that Moore actually used nitrous oxide.