Poppers are a slang term for various types of alkyl nitrites that are inhaled for recreational purposes. The two most prevalent used types of alkyl nitrite are isopropyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite. Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton , a Scottish physician, pioneered the use of Alkyl nitrites to treat a disease called angina pectoris. Brunton conclude that the use of Alkyl nitrite to dilate the coronary arteries could increase blood flow to the heart. Alky nitrites are also used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning and can be found in a variety of cleaning products such as computer duster, air fresheners, and video head cleaner. These nitrites are often inhaled for euphoric pleasure. Poppers have been a part of club culture since the 1970’s, and are prevalent in the gay club scene. A study done in 1988 revealed that over 60 percent of men who had admitted to using poppers were members of the gay community. Reports explain that the popularity of poppers in the gay community was due to the enhancement of sexual pleasure. Poppers later spread to a wider demographic as aggressive marketing and popularity increased. A study conducted by the Department of Health and Services concluded that less than 3 percent of the population of the United States has experimented with poppers.
Alkyl nitrate was originally introduced as a prescription drug in 1937 and remained so until 1960 until the food and drug administration removed this requirement as a result of its safety record. The prescription requirement was reinstated in 1969 when recreational use seemed to spike after a prescription was not required. Other forms of Alkyl Nitrite were made illegal by the US Congress as a result of the Anti-drug abuse act of 1988. There was an exception to this law excluding use of alkyl nitrate for commercial purposes, which attributes to its use in commercial products such as air duster and air fresheners.
Today alkyl nitrite is primarily used as an antidote for cyanide poisoning. It is used in cleaning products and air fresheners that are sold publicly in stores. When abused, alkyl nitrite is inhaled through the mouth or insufflated through the nose.
Inhaling alkyl nitrite relaxes muscle and cause a warm comfortable feeling through the body. It causes an individual to feel dizzy and light-headed due to the lack of oxygen to the brain. Alkyl nitrate primarily affects the smooth muscle of the body which surrounds the blood vessels. This causes blood vessels to dilate resulting in increased heart rate and blood flow throughout the entire body, which is the primary cause for the warm feeling felt throughout the extremities. The high from alkyl nitrite may only last a few minutes. In a small minority of men it has been reported that the use of poppers causes short term erectile dysfunction.
Similar drugs to Poppers
Similar drugs to poppers or alkyl nitrite are nitrous oxide and helium.
Popper Addiction information
Using alkyl nitrite has not been proven to cause tolerance or physical dependence. While addiction specifically to alkyl nitrite is low, it is often abused by addicts whom consistently use other mind altering chemicals. While the risk of significant injury has shown to be low when using alkyl nitrite there are very serve consequences that could arise. Use of alkyl nitrite has been associated with cardiovascular depression, hepatorenal toxicity, asphyxia, arrhythmias, carbon monoxide poisoning, neurologic dysfunction, and skin irritation.
There are no known withdrawal symptoms from consistent use of alkyl nitrites.
Overdose from the use of alkyl nitrite is rare but the risk is present every time the substance is used. Using alkyl nitrite lowers blood pressure which could result in fainting or stroke. Most overdoses in which alkyl nitrite was present in the system happen after a combination of alkyl nitrite and another substance were mixed. Poppers can interact with prescription vasodilators, such as Viagra, this can result in a dangerous decrease in blood pressure and the possibility of a heart attack. Using alkyl nitrite with club drugs and alcohol can cause blackouts and decrease the supply of oxygen to the brain.