What Are The Drug Poppers?


Poppers refer to a class of chemically psychoactive drugs known as alkyl nitrites. The most common is amyl nitrite, an inhalant that was often prescribed to reduce blood pressure. 

In addition to treating angina, a type of heart condition, it’s also used to treat cyanide poisoning. Amyl nitrite and other poppers are dangerous because they can cause heart irregularities that can lead to health emergencies and deadly conditions known as sudden sniffing death syndrome. 

Using poppers recreationally can also lead to the development of addiction. Here, we’ll explore what these drugs are, how they work, and why they’re both dangerous and addictive. 

If you believe you may be dependent on poppers, it’s important to seek treatment at a high-quality rehab in order to safeguard your health and future.

Poppers Explained

Known on the street as “liquid gold,” poppers are rarely prescribed to treat heart conditions today, so their use in the pharmaceutical pantheon has become quite limited since they first began to be prescribed in the late 1930s. 

During the 1960s, amyl nitrite and similar drugs began to be called ‘poppers’ after being used recreationally as a type of depressant. Inhaled from small bottles or broken capsules, poppers a quick, dizzying rush and a feeling not unlike alcohol intoxication. 

For many years, poppers were sold in sex shops and regarded as ‘sex enhancers,’ especially among the gay community. Users took poppers to increase sexual arousal and induce relaxation. Today, their use is more widespread among both gay and heterosexual users. The high induced by poppers is short-lived and tends to last no more than a few minutes, but its relaxation effects may last longer. 

What Are the Effects of Poppers?

Poppers achieve their high by causing the blood vessels to dilate. This substantially reduces blood pressure. The result, of course, is a feeling of dizziness and inebriation. However, even though the individual feels relaxed, their heart speeds up using these drugs. 

Some people become so lightheaded after using poppers that they faint. People may also experience heightened sexual sensations, which is one reason poppers have become a popular club drug. 

Poppers are associated with several negative side effects, including skin irritation around the nose, mouth, and other parts of the face. This irritation, which is akin to chemical burns, can lead to the development of sinusitis. Headaches have been reported, and even eye damage may occur as a result of abusing these drugs. People have reported damage or loss of vision after using poppers. 

Dangerous Health Risks of Poppers

While sinusitis, eye damage, and fainting can be serious, the dangerous effects of poppers don’t stop there. 

Poppers can cause injuries to the body’s red blood cells. If the damage is serious enough, it can impede the cells from delivering an adequate oxygen supply to a person’s vital organs, leading to death.

Poppers may also be associated with an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Because the drugs make individuals feel less inhibited, they may be less careful about using protection during sex. 

Mixing the drug with other substances like alcohol or other drugs can heighten the risks for dangerous side effects. For instance, mixing poppers with alcohol increases the risk of experiencing a reduced oxygen supply, a complication that can increase the risk of death. 

Poppers and Addiction

Poppers are not associated with high addiction rates; however, people can develop a tolerance to them. When tolerance occurs, users tend to increase their dose to experience the drug’s pleasurable effects. 

This can have deadly consequences as there is no safe dose for taking these drugs recreationally. Increasing the dose increases the risk for a health emergency.

It’s also important for users to realize that addiction isn’t merely a physical health condition. Addiction involves physical as well as psychological, and behavioral dependences. Feeling as if one “needs” poppers to have pleasurable sex can become a mentally and behaviorally addictive problem. 

Many people use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate away issues like anxiety or negative emotions. 

Poppers can become an unhealthy crutch just as other drugs and alcohol can become. When the person can’t stop relying on this “crutch,” they can benefit from addiction treatment. 

Addiction Treatment for Poppers Abuse

Abusing drugs can lead to the development of addiction, but an acute session of abuse can have deadly consequences. The safest way to use poppers is not to use them. People who feel dependent on drugs, such as poppers, should visit an addiction rehab to get a professional evaluation. Addiction specialists can recommend a course of treatment designed to help people lead a drug-free life. 

Because poppers are not associated with a high degree of physical dependence, medical detox may not be needed. However, treatment to address the psychological and behavioral aspects of dependency is required to manage a poppers abuse problem. 

Get Help with SoCal Sunrise Today

Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center has helped individuals overcome their drug addiction. Not only have we helped individuals achieve long-term sobriety, but we also have helped them overcome mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. 

Contact Southern California Sunrise Recovery Center if you have a poppers abuse problem or suspect you may be addicted to these types of drugs. We’ve helped thousands of people in Southern California learn how to manage their addiction successfully to achieve lasting recovery. 

We can help you safeguard your health too. Call to learn more about our treatment programs.

Table of Contents

Free Insurance Verification
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.