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Popper: what is it and what are the effects of this drug

Popper: what is it and what are the effects of this drug

July 19, 2024

Drug use is something usual, and is not exclusive to the youngest. This habit is not something recent either, since from ancestral times human beings already consumed all kinds of psychoactive substances. For example, it is known that the Mayans used mushrooms, peyote and ayahuasca centuries ago.

The effects of drugs can be pleasant and make us live amazing experiences and, in some cases, hallucinogenic; however, these substances are normally harmful to health or have great risks and can cause negative consequences in the life of the consumer. In this article we will focus on a substance known as popper .


  • Related article: "Types of drugs: know their characteristics and effects"

What is the popper?

Drugs are usually divided into three categories based on the effects they produce. They can act only as stimulants, as depressants or as hallucinogens (known as psychedelics). Very few substances have mixed effects , and these can be described as hallucinogenic stimulants (for example, ecstasy or ketamine) or as depressive hallucinogens (for example, cannabis).

Depressant drugs make the consumer feel relaxed and calm and they usually decrease the heart rate and breathing. They include alcohol (in high doses), tranquilizers, heroin or cannabis. The hallucinogens distort reality of the subject who consumes these substances in different ways: his sense of movement or time can be altered or he can suffer sensory distortions and hallucinations (for example, visual or auditory). They include LSD or mushrooms.


Stimulants make the consumer feel alert and full of energy. In turn, blood pressure increases and vasodilation occurs. This group includes cocaine, amphetamines and poppers .

The term popper is of colloquial use, and is used to refer to a varied range of psychoactive drugs that include, among some active principles, alkyl nitrites or amyl nitrite. They are consumed by inhalation and are recreational. This drug also It is known as liquid gold, bananas, snappers, rush and other commercial names such as Stud or Locker Room.

Characteristics of this substance

The most common type of popper is one that contains amyl nitrite , which is often confused with amyl nitrate which is used as an additive in diesel fuel, where it acts to improve ignition thanks to the acceleration of fuel ignition. However, the popper may also contain isopropyl nitrite, 2-propyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and alkyl nitrite.


The term "popper" began to be used after the popularity of some of these chemical compounds when they were used as drugs. For example, amyl nitrite It has been used in medicine for its vasodilating and stimulating effect for the treatment of angina.

What effects does the popper produce?

Although today this drug is rarely used to treat heart problems, poppers continue to be consumed. As a medical use, amyl nitrite is still used to treat cyanide poisoning .

As a recreational substance, the popper produces stimulation and vasodilation very quickly when inhaled, as well as a feeling of euphoria and sexual desire. At the same time causes a relaxation of sphincters, and therefore known as a sex drug or "gay drug".

In summary, its effects are:

  • Produces a rapid high when inhaled , in which the focus of attention and control of the body is lost.
  • The libido increases.
  • It produces a state of well-being and pleasure .
  • It relaxes sphincters and favors the erection in men.
  • It causes pleasurable perceptual distortions.
  • Language inconsistent and slow in the reaction time.

The pleasant effects of the drug occur shortly after taking it and have a short duration of only 2 or 3 minutes. Instead, the side effects can be long lasting , and may include: nausea, vertigo, headaches, redness of eyes, congestion on the face and neck, loss of appetite, nosebleeds, tachycardia, hypotension, and impaired breathing.

The popper can also be used as a complement to other designer drugs, such as LSD and ecstasy, which may cause more intense sensations and effects, but also serious risks of poisoning .

A popular drug among the gay community

Amyl nitrite was first synthesized in 1844 by Antoine Jérôme Balard and became popular as a treatment for angina pectoris by Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton.But it did not begin to be used as a recreational drug until the 60s, initially in the gay community, because this group realized that this drug helped them feel mentally and physically well, increased their sexual arousal and favored the practice of sex anal, making it less painful and more pleasurable.

So, the poppers are widely used as recreational drugs, especially in the gay scene , and normally they are inhaled directly from small bottles. It is a cheap drug and easy to acquire, often can be sold as air fresheners or as sexual enhancers.

A recent investigation examined the use of this drug among homosexuals. Apparently, while the consumption of other substances such as crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy and ketamine have decreased during recent times, the use of popper and cocaine has remained stable.

This psychoactive substance became part of the gay scene in the most successful times of disco music, that is, the 70s, and was very popular during the 80s and 90s. However, heterosexuals also consume it because of its effects . Studies show that in the United Kingdom, 14.9% of university students and 12.8% of medical students have used this drug recreationally. In addition, in this country there seems to be a great concern for the recent increase in the use of inhaled drugs among teenagers, among them, the popper.

Bibliographic references:

  • Organization of American States. (2012). Report: The Problem of Drugs in the Americas.
  • San Francisco I., Gemma. (2010). Drug addiction. Basic concepts.

Poppers! | What Do Poppers Do? (July 2024).


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