What are Poppers

Side Effects and Dangers of the Inhalant Drug

Table of Contents

Poppers, a slang term for various psychoactive drugs from the alkyl nitrites family, is an inhalant drug chemically known as amyl nitrite.

What are Poppers


Amyl nitrite is the most common type of inhalant drug initially used in capsules in the 1960s for the treatment of heart diseases. It is often confused by amyl nitrate (from the alkyl nitrates family) that is used for a totally different purpose: ignition improver in diesel fuel. Other common names for poppers are butyl nitrite and liquid gold.

Poppers, if I’m not wrong, is a yellowish-colored liquid drug with a fragrant, blend of peppermint and eucalyptus that, with just a whiff of it, gives an instant high.

The effects of poppers might vary from person to person. The experience for some might be unpleasant, causing sudden dizziness, headaches, and increased heart rate; however, for others, it’s a muscle relaxant that gives a smooth high feel for a short period of time. The use of amyl nitrate increased in the 1970s as a club drug, especially by the LGBTQ community – inhaling the fumes enhanced their sexual encounters, breaking down barriers between their partners, as they say.

“This research is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. In case of any medical concerns, consult with your healthcare provider.”

Be careful when you are using amyl nitrite. The chemical substance is quite toxic – drop of it on your skin can give you burns. Drinking it is pretty dangerous, nearly risking of life.

Drug Use

Since they are rarely used for heart treatment and instead used for muscle relaxation, the only way to use them is by inhaling the fumes off of the bottle. Just a whiff of it is enough to experience that sensational feeling. The effect of poppers is short but intense, which is why it is widely used as a recreational drug.

They are usually sold in sex shops, generally packaged as room deodorizers with Liquid Gold or Rush branding. Currently, amyl nitrites are banned in many countries because of their many euphoric effects and significant risks. Although queer community might not like the ban, but not everyone’s nervous system is capable of handling such intense intoxication and could lead to risk of life.

Effects of Poppers

Poppers have been found very effective in the queer community since they produce an instant high with warm sensations. The effect on one’s body is pretty fast, yet it lasts only a few seconds to minutes, unlike other drugs, for example, alcohol. These drugs are experienced as a relaxant, loosening the anal sphincter, facilitating anal intercourse. Some consumers say that the use of poppers during sex intensifies orgasm and increases sexual sensations.


  • Drop in blood pressure with lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting
  • Warm Sensations
  • Relaxation of sphincter muscles

Side Effects

  • Headaches
  • Affect the eyesight on direct contact
  • Skin lesions around lips and nose

Side Effects of Poppers

Researchers found out that several side effects are associated with the drug, such as flushing of the skin around the areas exposed to the bottle’s opening, for example, lips, mouth, nose, and face. Other than that, it also causes dizziness, headaches, and, often, vomiting and fainting.

Poppers can give burns if dropped on skin and may take days to heal up. With that being said, it should never be swallowed thinking it might give an extra rush; it possesses poisonous chemicals. Since rush poppers reduce the blood pressure and increase the heart rate, it should never be used while taking Viagra because it will significantly decrease blood pressure, leading to health risks.

Although amyl nitrite is a good relaxant for sphincter muscles, it, as well, could increase the risk of HIV. Amyl nitrite shoots up the blood flow to the rectum walls, making them thinner, and, sometimes, result in the breaking of blood vessels, leading to anal bleeding, thus, increasing the chance of transmission of HIV.

While many countries agree on banning the product, some researchers claim that the declared side effects of poppers are based on individuals’ use just like any other drug and say the evidence found are limited to a few small case studies, hence, leading to least effective conclusion.

Population Use

A 2010 study proposes that poppers were consistently used between the years 2002 and 2007 despite a significant decrease in other drugs, such as ecstasy and meth. It was a known club drug and was mainly used by the LGBTQ community. One of the studies by British medical students stated that 10 percent of the population is reported to have used poppers once, at least.
FANA Medical Care's Opinion

Despite the increase in the use of poppers and many rational arguments for using them, amyl nitrite is still a drug and can be harmful. It’s best to avoid using them.

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