Poppers are an inhalant drug. I've been using them for years. I was first introduced to them by my dear friend Queen Wang, now sadly inactive, and I have been using them ever since. SheDaddy uses them in intoxication and Hypno sessions to increase submission and give her a direct route to your subconscious. I don't know if they do that, but I know that SheDaddy's training methods work. This is a little essay on what they are, how safe they are, and things you should watch out for.
Poppers are not one specific drug, but a class of them called alkyl nitrites. These all have the same structure; nitrogen binds to two oxygens, which connect to various configurations of carbon and hydrogen. For example, the original popper, amyl nitrite, has the formula C5H11NO2, and butyl nitrite is C4H9NO2. All the alkyl nitrites will have various numbers of carbon and hydrogen in different shapes, but all of them will have that NO2 at the end.
Popper Packaging and Use
Poppers are all oily liquids sold in small bottles. You should avoid physical contact with the liquid as it can cause burns or sores. It is also poisonous. It's illegal to sell them as over-the-counter drugs, but there is a "commercial use" provision in the law that allows their sale as leather cleaners or VCR cleaners. This is legal fiction, so do not try to use these to clean anything. They don't work.
The only safe method of administration is to inhale the vapors. Poppers vaporize at room temperature, so you don't need to heat them. They are very flammable, so do not bring them near things like lighted cigarettes or candles. Many people soak cotton balls in the liquid and then put that in a small bottle to help avoid any contact with the liquid and their face.
Effects and Mechanism of Action
Once inhaled, alkyl nitrites enter the bloodstream quickly via membranes in your mouth, throat, and lungs. It takes effect very quickly, within seconds, lasting anywhere from two to five minutes.
You might be surprised to learn that poppers are not psychoactive. (Psychoactive drugs like cocaine, MDMA, or marijuana alter brain function). Their main effect is to relax the smooth muscle tissue throughout your body. The smooth muscle controls involuntary movements, including circulatory, digestive, and sexual organs. Poppers cause these muscles to relax, which has the effect of increasing blood flow while reducing blood pressure. The mental effects are not fully understood. There is dilation of the retinal and pial arteries and veins, increased brain volume, and an increased cerebral blood flow. There is a brief elevation of cerebrospinal fluid pressure. All these things probably relate to the mental effects, but it is not clear beyond this.
Loosening the heart muscles causes the heart to beat faster and blood flow to increase. Lowered blood pressure can cause disorientation. Since the vagina and anus are also smooth muscle tissue, these relax, and some people find this makes sex easier. Gays popularized the popper drug for this reason, and gay sex shops are still one of the best places to score poppers.
The original medical use of poppers was to treat angina, characterized by chest pain and caused by an inadequate blood supply to the heart. They don't use this for that purpose any longer because, at high doses, you can develop cardiovascular problems.
One of the side effects of poppers is that they turn hemoglobin (which transports oxygen throughout your body) into methemoglobin, which is less able to transport oxygen. You always have a small amount of methemoglobin (less than 1% of your bloodstream, typically), but increasing it beyond that leads to methemoglobinemia. With poppers, this is typically a mild form, and this is the reason you can get headaches and fatigue from popper use. However, in severe cases, it can cause comas or death.
A curiously interesting thing here is that alkyl nitrites work as an antidote to cyanide poisoning because they can create methemoglobin. Methemoglobin bonds to cyanide much better than hemoglobin. Don't reach for the popper bottle if you think you have cyanide poisoning! That's only the first step in a multistep treatment. Alkyl nitrates get used first because they are so fast acting, then sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate are injected. These are more effective but take longer to administer than nitrites.
Tolerance can build up fairly quickly, making the drug ineffective. Sensitivity to the drug will typically return within a week of abstinence..
Store poppers tightly capped in the refrigerator. Take them out to let them warm up before you use them. Cold poppers will not vaporize.
Aside from methemoglobinemia, alkyl nitrites have few risks. When used casually, the most common side effects are headaches, sweating, and the inability to maintain an erection. Your immune system is less effective for a few days after you take them, so that's something to remember. You can also get ocular migraines, which have weird effects on your vision and might last for 20-30 minutes (this can occur several hours after use). This isn't serious. You should never mix poppers with Viagra or other vasodilators. Avoid taking them with stimulants such as cocaine. This combination of drugs is hazardous. As long as you avoid these risky behaviors, do not drink the liquid or let it touch you; there aren't big risks with alkyl nitrates, which makes the government fervor to stomp them out all the stranger.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that out of 1,350,00 drug-related emergency visits, only 67 involved volatile nitrites. There were no deaths. In a survey of 605 emergency room specialists, 592 had never seen a patient with inhaled nitrite problems. Thirteen of these specialists reported patients with transient headaches or methemoglobinemia. Even heavy inhalation usage appears to have a wide margin of safety.
There is an interesting study by Swenson, who studied 20 men who averaged four poppers a day for seven years. The study found no significant differences in the lung function of the group compared with a non-user control group.
Fake poppers are quite common. The bottles look like traditional brands of poppers, but the contents are ineffective. Typically they contain rubbing alcohol. Fortunately, the contents are labeled correctly, so checking for this without trying it first is possible. I have never seen or heard of a fake popper that also faked the contents. It certainly pays to read the ingredients line since you can pay $40 for a tiny bottle containing probably $0.30 of rubbing alcohol.
Amyl nitrites were synthesized in 1844 by Balard. Sir Thomas Brunton discovered its medical use in treating angina. No one knows who first used it to treat cyanide poisoning, but it's been known for at least 100 years. There is no mention of its recreational use before 1950. The FDA approved nitrites for over-the-counter sales without a prescription in 1960 but reinstated them a year later, based on reports of recreational usage. The FDA is not a fan of using drugs for fun. The most common use of amyl nitrite was to treat angina. Packaged in glass vials, they made a "popping" sound when opened.
Poppers were used starting in the late 1950s and 1960s, particularly increasing in popularity with the rise of disco. One source claims that the first poppers sold commercially in Los Angeles in 1969, which contained isobutyl nitrite and was the first brand name trademarked by "Locker Room," which is still on the market today. In 1977, the Wall Street Journal claimed that the market for poppers was estimated to be $50 million yearly. It was commonly used in clubs and even sprayed into the air.
In the 1980s, the AIDs crisis caused an investigation into poppers and the "gay lifestyle ." At the time, many people blamed AIDs on the "gay lifestyle" (whatever that means), and probably because of this panic, the 1988 drug act banned poppers.
The legal status of poppers is a moving target. The status of amyl nitrite is clear: it's an FDA-approved prescription drug. Moving the drug to prescription status, popper manufacturers switched to butyl nitrite. Then isobutyl nitrite. Now they are manufacturing isopropyl nitrite. There are efforts in various states and countries in the EU to ban its sale. The FDA has taken no clear position on isopropyl nitrite. The Obama administration made it much more difficult to obtain poppers. Canada bans poppers, but an odd loophole in the law makes it possible for Canadians to manufacture them for sale outside of Canada. So headshops and gay bookstores could obtain them from Canadian manufacturers. Canada sealed the loophole, but the products remain available. I have not been able to find out how or why.
The sociology of the governmental bans on nitrites is worth considering. The usual reason is that the substance has "no legitimate usage" or is used "solely for recreation ." The clear assumption here is that any chemical whose sole purpose is pleasure is wrong. A rich, clear Puritanical vein is visible here, as in other situations in the U.S. America has a long heritage of banning activities that bring pleasure to some other person. Of course, the ruling class can always get exceptions. There was an interesting example of this in England. England passed a law banning all "legal highs ." There was some loophole in the law that allowed people to make and sell psychoactive drugs. The law banned poppers until Crispin Blunt, a former conservative justice minister and gay male, stood up in the Commons. He denounced the proposed poppers ban as "fantastically stupid," saying he was a poppers user. So poppers are now not banned in England. Thanks to Crispin.
I hope you enjoyed this! If you have thoughts you wish to share, please feel free to drop me a note.