Alkyl Nitrites ('poppers')

Harm Reduction

Headache is the most common side effect as the body compensates for the rush of blood to the head. Using stale poppers is likely to make this worse. Other unpleasant side effects include vomiting, dizziness, sweating, flushing, fainting and coughing. These should stop if the drug is not used. Poppers can adversely affect sexual performance, making it difficult to get or keep an erection.

Poppers can create skin rashes, and cause sore throats and eyes; this mainly occurs when they splash on to the face or into the mouth. They burn the skin so any contact with the skin should be avoided. Poppers are highly flammable, so should not contact with naked flames.

It is inadvisable for anyone with chest or heart problems, anaemia or glaucoma to take poppers. Anyone with low blood pressure must be particularly wary about using poppers.

Overdoses from the use of amyl nitrite are extremely rare and are only likely to occur if the liquid has been mistakenly drunk, rather than inhaled. When using poppers in a club setting, care should be taken when inhaling. Poppers are a toxic chemical substance and should not be swallowed.

Poppers can turn haemoglobin, the healthy pigment in our red blood cells, to methaemoglobin. If this happens to a significant degree, it can cause breathlessness, headaches and the tongue and lips to turn blue. Non-stop usage is not advisable and it is wise to take breaks or stop using if you feel any of these effects.