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Article Summary


Poppers are small bottles filled with liquid chemicals called alkyl nitrites. Nitrites like amyl nitrite (and butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite) dilate the blood vessels and allow more blood to get to the heart. They're usually sniffed straight from the bottle and deliver a short, sharp high. Poppers are often sold in sex shops, clubs and gay bars.


: Street names for drugs can vary around the country. Ram, Thrust, Rock Hard, Kix, TNT, Liquid Gold

The effects

  • An initial head rush that lasts a couple of minutes.
  • Sniffing poppers during sex can make orgasms feel like they last longer. And some people say it enhances their erections.
  • May help relax anal sphincter muscles.

Chances of getting hooked

Poppers aren't physically or psychologically addictive.

Appearance and use

Nitrites originally came as small glass capsules that were popped open, hence the name. Now, they’re likely to be in small bottles with brand names like Ram, Thrust and Rock Hard. One sniff and you can feel the effects. These fade after a couple of minutes.


Not really an issue with poppers.

The risks

  • The effects don't last long and can leave people feeling sick, faint and weak. Especially if taken while dancing.
  • Some men have trouble getting an erection after sniffing poppers.
  • Poppers can give you an extreme headache.
  • Some people get a rash around their mouth.
  • Poppers are toxic and can kill you if you swallow them.
  • Taking poppers is a dangerous idea for anyone with chest or heart problems, anemia or glaucoma (an eye disease).
  • It's not advisable to take poppers if you're on medication to reduce your blood pressure or taking Viagra, as it can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous level.
  • Poppers can burn your skin on contact.
  • They're highly flammable – especially if you dip cigarettes into a bottle of poppers, which is another way of taking the drug. Lighting these cigarettes could take your eyebrows off.

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