What Are Poppers?

What Are Poppers? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

Poppers are liquid inhalant drugs that can induce an immediate high when inhaled. The effects of poppers onset rapidly and include dizziness, warm sensations, elevated heart rate, and headaches. Poppers have seen widespread recreational use.

The drug can produce brief euphoric effects and act as a sex enhancer. They are sometimes marketed as deodorizers or leather cleaners, although people never use them for these purposes. Although intense, most of the euphoric effects subside quickly, typically within a few minutes.

Are Poppers Safe?

The answer is no! These drugs are considered unsafe for humans to use. Inhaling poppers can cause irregular and accelerated heart rate. Taking the drug in this way can be life-threatening, and result in a syndrome known as “sudden sniffing death syndrome,” which is the most common cause of inhalant-related deaths.

Also, the use of poppers can lead to other complications that have the potential to be lethal. The drug can cause a life-threatening condition in which the body produces too much methemoglobin, a substance found in red blood cells.

Using poppers may also result in severe brain or eye damage. For example, research in animals has shown that chemicals in poppers may be toxic to the brain and impair learning and memory.

It is also possible to induce temporary or permanent vision loss. This effect may occur because chemicals in the drugs cause retinal damage.

Some experts suggest that the use of poppers may also lead to risky, impulsive sexual activity, thus increasing the chances of contracting blood-borne diseases such as HIV. In addition, research from 2017 linked long-term popper use in males who have sexual intercourse with other men to a higher risk of cancers related to viruses and sexually-transmitted infections.

Some people combine poppers with erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Viagra. This behavior can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, which can be fatal.

Mixing poppers with alcohol is also dangerous and can lead to a profound decrease in blood pressure. Alcohol can increase the risk of unwanted effects, such as dizziness and lightheadedness.

What Are The Effects Of Poppers?

What Are Poppers? | Harmony Recovery Center | North Carolina

People use poppers to experience pleasurable feelings or euphoria, but some have found the high to be uncomfortable and disorienting. They act mainly as vasodilators, meaning that they dilate blood vessels.

Vasodilation can cause the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Flushed skin
  • Warm bodily sensations

If blood pressure falls too low, it may cause fainting or unconsciousness, leading to falls and injuries. Some people report that using poppers intensifies their sexual pleasure. However, they can reduce the ability to achieve or maintain an erection.

Other Side Effects

Poppers can cause many other unwanted side effects, such as the following:

Headaches – Because the use of poppers causes blood vessels in the brain to expand, headaches often result. They can vary in severity and may persist for some time after the drug’s euphoric effects subside.

Respiratory Problems – Inhaling strong chemicals can affect breathing and other respiratory tract functions. As a result, this can lead to sinus problems and wheezing.

Skin Lesions – Crusty skin sores may occur around the nose, lips, and other areas exposed to fumes produced by poppers.

Allergic Reactions – Scented poppers can cause problems for those who are allergic to certain fragrances.

Eye Pressure – Amyl nitrite, which is sometimes used as a popper, can increase the levels of fluid in the eyes, thereby causing intraocular pressure. This effect can be hazardous for people who have or are at risk of glaucoma.

Other adverse reactions include chest pain, nausea, impaired coordination, and nosebleeds.

Who Uses Poppers?

Historically, doctors prescribed amyl nitrite to people with heart conditions, and it is currently still used today to treat cyanide poisoning. More recently, the use of poppers has been associated with the LGBTQ community, possibly because it can facilitate certain sexual practices. Use may also increase sexual arousal and intensify climax.

A 2010 study found that, between 2002-2007, amyl nitrite use was consistent among “sexual minority men” in New York. The use of this drug has remained steady despite a significant decrease in the use of other drugs, such as ecstasy and ketamine (Special K).

However, people of all ages and sexual orientations may use poppers. Indeed, a study involving medical students in Great Britain found that 10% reported having used poppers at least once.

Treatment for Drug Abuse

People who use poppers also often engage in the abuse of other substances, such as alcohol. Those who are struggling with substance abuse or addiction are urged to seek help as soon as possible.

Harmony Recovery Center offers integrated programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. These programs include evidence-based services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare, and more. We are committed to ensuring each client receives the tools and support they need to experience a full recovery.

Contact us today to discuss treatment options, and discover how we help people break the cycle of addiction for life!

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