What are poppers?

Poppers are also known as amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite
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Remember: All drugs, including the misuse of prescribed medication, can pose serious health risks, up to and including possible death.

What are Poppers?

Poppers is the term for the group of chemicals known as alkyl nitrates that include amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite. They come as a clear or straw-coloured liquid in a small bottle or tube. The vapour is inhaled through the mouth or nose.

Also known as: Liquid gold, high-tech, rave, rush, ram, thrust, locker room, snappers, hardware, rock hard, and TNT.

What are the effects of poppers?

  • Light-headedness, giddiness, heat flush or heightened sensual awareness. This is known as a headrush
  • Some users may also experience the impression of time slowing down
  • Poppers increases blood flow and can relax the walls of the anus and vagina
  • The effects fade two to five minutes after use
  • Users are often left with a headache

Dangers of poppers

  • Side effects of sniffing poppers may include headaches, nausea, coughing, dizziness, and in serious instances users may completely pass out
  • Regular use can cause skin problems around the mouth and nose
  • If spilled, poppers can burn the skin
  • Alkyl nitrites reduce blood pressure. This makes it dangerous for people with anaemia, glaucoma, breathing or heart problems
  • Poppers can be fatal if swallowed
  • Do not drink poppers

Is it dangerous to mix with other drugs?

Any time you mix drugs together you take on new risks. Things that affect your risk include the type of drug, the strength and how much you take. Mixing poppers with alcohol can increase the risk of reducing the oxygen supply to vital organs, unconsciousness and death. Mixing poppers with Viagra or other erectile dysfunction medication is dangerous as they all affect blood pressure.

Harm reduction advice

If you choose to take drugs remember:

  • Start with a very small test dose and wait at least two hours before taking more.
  • Stay with your friends and do not leave anybody who is intoxicated on their own.
  • Avoid mixing drugs and alcohol. Every time you mix drugs, including alcohol and prescription medication, you increase the risks.
  • Always hydrate with water but don’t drink over a pint an hour.
  • If you are dancing, remember to take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
  • Don’t be afraid to get help if you or a friend become unwell or feel suicidal after using drugs. Call 112 or 999

Support services

  • Drugs.ie: Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services
  • HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.
  • The Club Drug Clinic offers advice, support and detoxification for GHB (Liquid Ecstasy, G) and other chemsex and club drugs is an integrated person centred specialist addiction service: Tel 016488600
  • Rialto Community Drug Team
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