Nitrite Poppers | Abuse, Side Effects, & Dangers

Nitrite poppers are a category of inhalants and that are commonly disguised as other items and marketed as a sex tool to gay men.

Nitrite poppers may contain amyl nitrite which is used for chest pain. Those who participate in the inhalation of nitrite poppers may suffer serious health problems or have adverse reactions to the effects of the drug.

When inhaled, nitrite poppers cause a drop in blood pressure and an expanse in blood vessels. Nitrite poppers are a recreational drug and sometimes used for sexual enhancement.

What Are Nitrate Poppers?

Nitrite poppers may be referred to as various slang terms according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some of these include:

  • sub-zero
  • iron horse
  • liquid gold
  • rush
  • jungle juice
  • super rush
  • locker room

“Poppers” were originally referred to as the recreational use of amyl nitrite. Inhalants can be found in a variety of stores and may contain other harmful nitrites including alkyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and isobutyl nitrite.

Poppers have unsuspecting packaging and are commonly sold as:

  • nail polish removers
  • cosmetics
  • liquid incense
  • air fresheners
  • solvents
  • leather cleaners
  • deodorizers

These substances may come in small bottles similar to energy drinks, but they are not meant for human consumption.

Nitrite Popper Abuse

Poppers can be abused due to the effect it produces in those who inhale the substance. When a person inhales the vapors of poppers, they may experience low blood pressure or even a loss of consciousness.

Prevalence With Gay Men

Poppers may be used by those who belong to the gay community. The use of poppers can create an immediate high which relaxes the smooth muscles in your body, including the throat and anus.

The use of poppers may be prominent among gay men due to how poppers relax and increase the blood flow of the anal sphincter. Poppers may also cause decreased inhibitions which can lead to sexual encounters or other risky behaviors.

Because poppers are sometimes used for sex, you may find them sold at sex shops.


Those who try to ingest poppers may have serious health consequences which require hospitalization. A blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia may occur in those who abuse poppers.

This process causes red blood cells in your body to receive a lack of oxygen which can lead to fatalities if oxygen can no longer reach your vital organs. These products are not FDA approved, so they should not be ingested or inhaled due to the potential dangers.

Side Effects Of Nitrate Poppers

Huffing nitrite poppers can result in a number of side effects, some of which can be life-threatening.

Short-Term Side Effects

Some of the short-term side effects of using an inhalant can include:

  • lightheadedness
  • low blood pressure
  • fainting
  • increased heart rate
  • feelings of euphoria
  • relaxation

Long-Term Side Effects

Long-term use of poppers may result in serious health concerns. According to the Department of Justice, long-term side effects of inhalant use may consist of:

  • muscle weakness
  • mental health problems such as depression
  • weight loss
  • disorientation
  • irritability

Dangers Of Nitrite Poppers

Since nitrite poppers contain amyl nitrate, a medication used for angina (chest pain), serious interactions may occur if certain drugs are combined with poppers. Those who have glaucoma or a history of heart problems should avoid poppers.

Harmful Drug Interactions

Those who take poppers will need to know the serious adverse reactions or drug interactions that can occur when poppers are combined with other medications.

For instance, those who take poppers should avoid erectile dysfunction drugs including sildenafil (brand name Viagra). Blood pressure medications should also not be taken with poppers of any kind.

Those who take poppers may wish to have a greater high or sexual experience by adding alcohol, benzodiazepines, or cannabis. However, the effects of poppers, when combined with other drugs, can cause heavy sedation and potential hospitalizations.

Substance Abuse Treatment

If you or a loved one are addicted to inhalants, outpatient treatment programs can help. At Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, we offer cognitive behavioral therapy, day treatment programs, and intensive outpatient programs.

To speak with a healthcare representative, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.