“Poppers” is the term for a liquid chemical that’s sold in small bottles and is sniffed.
Other names for poppers include Amyls, Kix, Liquid Gold, Ram, Rock Hard, TNT, and Thrust. Poppers are made of amyl and butyl nitrite. The mixture is given this name because of the popping noises that the caps make when the bottles are opened. Sniffing poppers produces a rush of euphoria as well as increased sex drive and a head rush. Additional side effects of using poppers are not as pleasurable. If you’ve never heard of this drug, then you may be wondering what they do or, “how long do poppers last?” Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia lays it all out.
How Do Poppers Work?
What are poppers, and what do they do? Poppers are bottles of a chemical called alkyl nitrites, which are short-lasting drugs that produce a head rush, euphoria, and muscle relaxation. These liquids produce vapors that are inhaled - hence the term “sniffing poppers.” Amyl nitrite, the first of this drug class, was made in 1844 and used to help relieve angina (chest pains). Widespread recreational use of amyl nitrite didn’t begin until the 1960s. Further restrictions on this drug use resulted in more variations, including isopropyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, and butyl nitrite.
Poppers usually come in small bottles with colorful wrapping. The contents evaporate into a breathable vapor when opened at room temperature. Poppers are often sold as "room odorizers" to avoid legal detection. Poppers are illegal in the United States. They are also illegal in the United Kingdom under the Medicines Act of 1968.
People use poppers by opening the bottle and inhaling the vapors through the nose or mouth. Some users also dip the end of a cigarette in poppers and inhale it without lighting it, which is also dangerous because this chemical is highly flammable. This form of use can also be risky if the liquid itself is breathed into the lungs.
Although many believe an amyl nitrite high is worth the risk of inhaling these harmful chemicals, we can assure you it’s not. Poppers' side effects can lead to a variety of problems, from skin rash to cognitive impairment. Many people who experiment with drugs often find themselves in need of PHP treatment to recover.
How Long Do Poppers Effects Last?
The effects of poppers kick in after about 15 seconds but are short-lasting. When the vapors from poppers are inhaled, they enter the bloodstream through the mouth, throat, and lungs. Popper effects usually only last for 2 to 5 minutes. However, how long poppers' effects last depend on how much the person has inhaled. A popper’s high feels like a dizzying head rush that can be euphoric.
Some other side effects of rush poppers include:
- A rush of warm sensations
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Skin lesions around the nose and lips (when the liquid gets on the skin)
- Sinusitis and respiratory infections and reactions
- Increased intraocular pressure, or pressure behind the eyes
Poppers are also vasodilators, meaning they dilate the blood vessels. As a result, when someone uses poppers, their blood pressure drops rapidly, leading to lightheadedness and sometimes brief loss of consciousness and strength (syncope). While this is happening, the heart speeds up, a condition known as tachycardia. Another side effect of poppers is the relaxation of the anal sphincter, which is why the drug is also used to facilitate anal sex. Additionally, when using this drug, the possibility of a poppers overdose always remains present.
Although the high that poppers produce is short-lived, these drugs can produce some unwanted consequences in the long run. Popper’s long-term effects include:
- Allergic reactions on the skin and respiratory system
- Methemoglobinemia (a blood disorder that can block oxygen supply to body tissue)
- Skin rash around the nose and mouth
- Maculopathy (a disease that affects the back of the retina, common with isopropyl nitrite)
- A build-up of fluid pressure within the eye
Long-term popper use is also associated with an increased risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. This is mainly because these drugs are often used to increase libido and alleviate painful sex. Although poppers are not addictive, they are extremely harmful to the body and should not be used at all. Moreover, people who begin experimenting with drugs like poppers are more likely to explore and abuse heavier forms of drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or meth.
Experimentation occurs for a number of reasons. First, the environment in which a person is using poppers may play a part. Because it is often used in a party or club setting, someone there is likely to have greater access to more harmful substances than if they were to do it at home. Building off of this, the mentality of those in these spaces is often not one that is concerned with the consequences of substance abuse. This means that a partygoer may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure.
Finally, experiencing an artificial rush of any kind in these settings makes it that much more likely that a partygoer will try something else to make it last. Once this occurs, it is possible that the person will need more poppers or more of their drug of choice to experience that same high, commonly resulting in an addiction. This is when it is important to intervene, if possible, and seek out addiction therapy programs, such as our psychotherapy for substance abuse and others found at our Philly drug rehab.
Next time you find yourself asking questions like “how long do poppers last” and “would trying them just once really hurt?” consider the real health risks involved. The dangers of poppers absolutely outweigh a short-term high, although we know not all consider this in time. This can quickly escalate into a much bigger issue, one that requires professional Philadelphia substance abuse programs to properly address.