Poppers (Amyl Nitrates)
Poppers are a vasodilating drug which are often disguised as room odours in small colourful bottles.
Poppers are a chemical class of substances used as an inhalant that have short-lasting, psychologically disinhibiting, vasodilating effects on the body (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
Poppers are often used to enhance sexual experiences (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
Feelings & Effects
Among gay, bisexual, and queer men, poppers are used to enhance sexual experiences and pleasure (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
The effects of poppers can cause the user to experience an intense ‘rush’ of euphoria, relaxation of the vascular smooth muscles including the anal sphincter, and reduced pain perception (Giorgetti et al., 2017). Other effects of poppers may include:
- Dizziness and warmth.
- Increased heart rate.
- Facial redness/blush.
The effects of poppers may vary depending on several factors including how much of the substance has been used and how frequently the substance has been used. While the risk of serious or life-threatening adverse effects of using poppers are low, using large amounts may reduce transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream to vital organs (Drug Science, 2019). Additionally, accidental ingestion of poppers can be life-threatening (Drug Science, 2019). Adverse effects of inhalant popper use may include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Nose bleeds.
Regular use of poppers can cause chemical burns around the mouth and nose (Drug Science, 2019). Overtime, using poppers can cause damage to the retinas, leading to vision loss (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
Dosing & Delivery
Poppers are considered an inhalant because the vapours from the liquid are inhaled into the mouth and nose causing a rapid-onset of effects.
(Giorgetti et al., 2017). The effects of poppers are nearly instantaneous but short-lived, lasting for 2-5 minutes (Drug Science, 2019).
Poppers are highly flammable and should never be used near flames that could possibly ignite them. Poppers should never be ingested, if accidental ingestion occurs, the user should seek emergency medical support (Drug Science, 2019).
Mixing Poppers with Other Drugs
Mixing poppers with HIV medications, stimulants or erectile dysfunction agents can increase risk of adverse effects.
- Using poppers with stimulants cause strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing risk of adverse effects (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
Erectile Dysfunction Agents (Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Vardenafil)
- Using poppers with erectile dysfunction agents can cause a sudden and dramatic decrease in blood pressure (Giorgetti et al., 2017).
Recently, Canada passed the “Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.” This means that if police attend a 911 call for an overdose and there are drugs present, anyone in attendance is protected against simple drug possession charges, even if they’re on probation or parole. See this helpful info by the HIV Legal Network. You can download a PDF of it [here].