Poppers (alkyl nitrites) are liquid substances that produce an immediate high when inhaled. The effects of poppers include dizziness, warm sensations, increased heart rate, and headaches.
The drug can induce brief euphoric effects and act as a sex enhancer. They are sometimes marketed as leather cleaners or deodorizers, although individuals seldom use them for these purposes. Although intense, most of the feel-good effects wane quickly, typically within just a few minutes.
Are Poppers Safe?
The short answer is no—these drugs are considered unsafe for people to use. Inhaling poppers often results in irregular and increased heart rate. Taking the drug in this method can be life-threatening and result in a syndrome known as “sudden sniffing death.”
The use of poppers can also lead to other complications that have the potential to be fatal. The drug can induce a life-threatening condition in which the body produces too much methemoglobin, a biochemical found in red blood cells.
Ingesting poppers may also result in severe brain or eye damage. For instance, research in animals has revealed that chemicals in poppers may be toxic to the brain, impairing learning and memory.
It is also possible for poppers to produce a temporary or permanent loss of vision. This effect may occur due to chemicals in the drugs that can cause retinal damage.
Many experts suggest that the use of poppers may also lead to potentially dangerous, impulsive sexual activity, therefore increasing the risk of contracting blood-borne infections, such as HIV. Also, research from 2017 linked long-term popper use in men who have sexual intercourse with other males to a higher chance of developing cancers related to viruses and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Some individuals combine poppers with erectile dysfunction medications, such as Viagra. This behavior, however, can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, which can be lethal.
Combining poppers with alcohol is also risky and can result in a profound decrease in blood pressure. Alcohol can increase the risk of undesirable effects, such as lightheadedness and dizziness.
Individuals often use poppers to experience pleasurable feelings or euphoria, but some have found the high to be uncomfortable and disorienting. Poppers act primarily as vasodilators, meaning that they dilate blood vessels. Some side effects may include the following:
- Elevated heart rate
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Flushing of the skin
- Warm bodily sensations
If a person’s blood pressure falls too low, it may cause fainting or unconsciousness. Some people report that taking poppers intensifies their sexual pleasure, but it means it may also reduce their ability to produce an erection.
Other Side Effects
Poppers can cause many other side effects, including the following:
Headaches – Because poppers expand blood vessels in the brain, individuals who use them often experience headaches. These headaches may be mild or severe, and they can persist for a while after the drug’s euphoric effects abate.
Respiratory Problems – The inhalation of poppers can adversely impact breathing and other respiratory functions. Because of this, sinus problems and wheezing can result.
Skin Lesions – Crusted skin sores can appear near the lips, nose, and other areas exposed to popper fumes.
Allergic Reactions – Scented poppers have been known to irritate allergies for individuals who have problems with certain fragrances.
Eye Pressure – Amyl nitrate, which is often used as a popper, may increase fluid levels in the eyeball, causing intraocular hypertension. This side effect can be dangerous for individuals with glaucoma.
Other adverse reactions include chest pain, nausea, impaired coordination, and nosebleeds.
Who Uses Poppers?
Physicians used to prescribe amyl nitrate to individuals with heart disorders, and it is currently still used today to treat the symptoms of cyanide poisoning. More recently, the abuse of poppers has been linked to the LGBTQ community, possibly because it can enhance certain sexual practices, and use may boost sexual arousal and intensify climax.
For example, a 2010 study revealed that, between 2002-2007, alkyl nitrite use was common among “sexual minority men” in New York. The abuse of this drug has remained relatively steady despite a decrease in the use of other drugs, such as ecstasy (MDMA), meth, and Special K.
Nonetheless, individuals of all ages and sexual orientations may abuse poppers. Indeed, research involving medical students in Great Britain suggested that 10% reported having used poppers at least once.
Treatment for Drug Abuse
Using dangerous drugs like poppers can be detrimental to one’s health. People who use poppers also often abuse of other substances, such as alcohol. Those who are battling with substance abuse or addiction are encouraged to seek help as soon as possible.
Just Believe Recovery offers integrated programs that include evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, group support, and more. We are dedicated to ensuring each individual we treat receives the tools and support he or she needs to experience a full recovery.
Please contact us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we help people break the vicious cycle of addiction for life!