Post Date: February 2, 2014
What are poppers?
- “Poppers” is a slang term for a class of chemicals called “alkyl nitrites” or simply “nitrites.” This class includes multiple unique compounds, including amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, and more.
- Poppers are very prominent in queer communities, and have long been a part of queer club scenes.
- Nitrites are used medically for the treatment of angina and other heart conditions. They’re used to dilate blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily to the heart.
- Recreationally, poppers are sold in little bottles as “video head cleaners,” “polish removers,” or “room deodorizers.” These bottles contain a liquid, but because they have a very high vapor pressure, they turn into a gas as soon as the bottle is opened or “popped.”
What are the effects?
- The effects of inhaling nitrites are felt within a few seconds and last for one to four minutes, sometimes a little longer.
- Nitrites relax smooth muscle tissue around blood vessels, causing the blood vessels to dilate. This increases heart rate and causes more oxygen-rich blood to reach the brain, producing a “rush” sensation.
- Other effects include pleasurable physical sensations, a feeling of being “in the moment,” and euphoria.
- Many users report dizziness or feelings that the room is spinning. Headaches are common due to the expansion of blood vessels in the brain.
- Because poppers relax muscles in the anus and vagina, they are sometimes used during sex to facilitate penetration.
What is a typical dose?
- Poppers are usually inhaled by holding one nostril and gently breathing in air that’s wafted from the bottle, then holding your breath for a few seconds before exhaling.
- Many people develop a headache after 2-4 inhalations, which is a good indicator to stop.
- It’s advised to alternate nostrils between inhalations.
- You should always waft the air from the bottle toward your nose. Putting the bottle too close to your nose can get the liquid on your skin, causing burns.
- Since poppers are not regulated, the exact contents of these products are not known, and they are not safety tested.
- Swallowing the liquid in the bottle is extremely dangerous and can be fatal. If it happens accidentally, call 911 or Poison Control. Contact with the skin can cause irritation and lesions.
- Poppers are highly flammable. Keep away from cigarettes, candles, and lighters.
- Poppers pose extra risks for pregnant people and people who have heart problems (like arrhythmias), abnormal blood pressure, a history of cerebral hemorrhaging, or anemia.
- Since both poppers and stimulants (like amphetamine or cocaine) increase heart rate, mixing them can increase the risk of overheating or heart and blood pressure related issues.
- Combining poppers and Viagra can lead to a massive drop in blood pressure, which is very dangerous and might cause the body to go into shock.
More harm reduction tips
- Poppers can affect your judgment and may increase risky sexual behavior. If you are planning on being intimate, have conversations about consent and protection before use whenever possible.
- To prevent spilling and evaporation, pour a small amount in a separate bottle filled with cotton, tightly seal it, and store it in a fridge.
- Each specific nitrite will have a slightly different effect and safety profile. The contents of poppers can’t be tested by anything but a lab, so be aware of the risk of getting one of the riskier nitrites. (Isobutyl nitrite, for example, was found by the EU to be possibly carcinogenic.)