What are Poppers? Uses, Side Effects, and Dangers of this Inhalant

what do poppers do
Poppers Drug

Poppers are the nickname of the drug alkyl nitrites, specifically amyl nitrite. Many drug users are now turning to using poppers to achieve their feeling of high. In this article, we will talk about poppers and what you need to know about them.

What Are Poppers?

Poppers is a type of liquid inhalant to create the experience of being high. The most common form of poppers is amyl nitrite. They are often sold in small bottles and inhaled as deodorizers to take effect. While the name of the drug sounds like it is something taken orally, the digestion of poppers can be fatal.

The term “poppers” originally came from its first use as a heart medicine. In the 1960s, amyl nitrite was sold in the form of capsules and was prescribed to those suffering from forms of heart diseases. While it is no longer commonly prescribed as a heart medicine, it is still used to treat angina attacks with a physician’s approval.

Is it Illegal?

The sale of alkyl nitrite is not illegal, but they are not made to be over-the-counter drugs. However, alkyl nitrite can be found in room deodorizers and leather cleaners. These are often purchased by drug users and inhaled to achieve their high.

How Are Poppers Being Used?

Initially, the drug was meant to be used against angina. However, even in those years, this inhalant became a recreational drug. It took the gay community by storm, with many young gay men taking poppers, especially before engaging in sexual activity.

The users of poppers found that it helped them relax mentally, and for gay men, it increased arousal, made anal sex easier, and gave them an enhanced orgasm. Due to these effects, poppers are still used prominently by many members of the gay community.

However, it is not only used by those in the gay community. Due to the popularity of poppers brought about by the gay community, many heterosexuals have started to use them as well. It has become popular, especially in the disco and rave scene, with many people inhaling poppers at disco clubs.

What Does Taking Poppers Drug Feel Like?

Like other recreational drugs, poppers create a feeling of being “high.” It gives a rush immediately and quickly after it is inhaled. One common sensation experienced by those who use poppers is a warm sensation and some sort of dizziness. It is almost like the feeling of someone drunk on alcohol.

Poppers are known to dilate the blood cells, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. This results in the lightheadedness one may feel when using poppers and could even make one blackout. In addition to this, because it increases the blood and oxygen supply to the heart, the user’s heartbeat may increase quickly.

What are Poppers

The effect of poppers can only last a few seconds or minutes. This encourages the user to continuously sniff the drug to retain their high. Below are some of the other effects that using poppers can result into:

  • Euphoria

Like with any other drug, the feeling of “high” can bring euphoria. This gives the user a short sense of joy, almost like floating.

  • Warm Sensations

As mentioned before, the use of poppers is similar to the effect of alcohol intake. The user’s body will experience warm sensations rushing in and out of the user’s body.

  • Dizziness

Because of the blood dilating, the user’s blood pressure goes down. This results in nausea and dizziness being experienced by the user.

  • Relaxation

The drug is known to have some sort of calming effect. Despite the heartbeats of the user being faster because the heart is pumped with a lot of oxygen and blood supply, the user is more relaxed. This relaxing feeling one gets when using it is the reason why it was so popular in the gay community, especially before engaging in sexual activity.

Aside from these common ones mentioned, there could also be other effects. The usage of poppers is dependent on the user, still, and their bodily state.

What Are the Side Effects?

Like any other recreational drug use, they could have negative side effects. The side effects can easily hurt the user and even be fatal. Short term side effects can include headaches, low blood pressure, trouble breathing, and dizziness.

Aside from the physical system problems it can cause, there are other side effects that few may know of. For one, the drug being inhaled can result in lesions around your nose or lips. Aside from that, it can also cause some respiratory problems and possibly trigger some sort of allergic reaction.

Additionally, poppers also increase intraocular pressure. This means that there is an increase in the fluid pressure in the eyes. Continuous increase in intraocular pressure can result in vision problems like glaucoma or possible permanent vision loss.

Can You Get Addicted?

Unlike most recreational drugs, there is no evidence that addiction to poppers exists. However, as you continue to use it, you will build a tolerance, requiring you to use more of the product before achieving the desired effect. While it is rare to experience overdose of poppers, especially fatal overdoses, constant use can cause dizzy spells and even blackouts.

However, even if you cannot get addicted to poppers, this does not mean that you should be using them recreationally. In the first place, alkyl nitrite is not sold over the counter. This means that it is not meant to be used by just anyone without a physician’s prescription.

While they may be found in leather cleaners and deodorizers, they are meant to be used for their intended purposes. The purchase of these items to be inhaled is highly discouraged and should not be done as it could result in your death.

Furthermore, the use of this drug with other medications can be potentially dangerous. Poppers were especially dangerous when used with medication meant to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

What Do I Do If I Know Someone Who is Abusing Poppers?

As mentioned, poppers do not cause any form of addiction. This makes it less dangerous than other recreational drugs on the market. However, even so, its use is highly discouraged and could require some sort of intervention.

If you know someone who uses it, you can intervene by yourself. If they only use poppers and no other recreational drugs, talking to them may still work out. However, if they already have a problem with recreational drugs aside from poppers, then professional help will be needed.

There is an importance in intervening as early as you can. Contacting a professional to help create an intervention plan is essential. However, aside from that, the user must also feel like they want to get help. Otherwise, the treatment will be ineffective.


Poppers is a type of inhalant drug that is most commonly made of amyl nitrite. They often come as deodorizers or leather cleaners but are purchased for the sake of doing drugs. They are inhaled to achieve the feeling of high, and while they may not result in total addiction, they still have a lot of adverse effects. These adverse effects will end up being harmful to the individual if they continue to experience them due to the use of poppers. When using any form of medicine, make sure to get advice from a physician to ensure its proper use.