Poppers are usually found in the form of a liquid chemical sold in a small bottle. They are a group of chemicals called alkyl nitrites. Specific alkyl nitrites include butyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite and amyl nitrite. They dilate the blood vessels and allow more blood to get to the heart.
The key effects of poppers can include:
Poppers are a liquid chemical (a nitrites), sold in small bottles with brand names like Ram, Thrust and Rock Hard.
In the past when nitrites were used to treat angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart) they came in small glass capsules that were popped open and sniffed, hence the name poppers.
Poppers are commonly sold as room aromas or deodorisers in sex shops, some clubs, market stalls and online.
Poppers are usually sniffed from the bottle. Some people prefer to dip a cigarette into the popper bottle and then inhale though the cigarette rather than sniff straight from the bottle.
The effects come on quickly, but don't last for long and fade after a couple of minutes.
It is important to be careful as poppers are highly flammable – with stories of people mistakenly burning themselves or others or lighting cigarettes that have been dipped in poppers and burning off their eyebrows.
Poppers are usually sniffed from the bottle. Some people prefer to dip a cigarette into the popper bottle and inhale rather than sniff straight from the bottle.
Poppers have a range of effects:
Taking poppers is potentially dangerous for anyone with heart problems, anaemia or glaucoma (an eye disease).
Here’s what poppers can do to you.
Mixing poppers with alcohol can increase the risk of reducing the oxygen supply to vital organs, unconsciousness and death
There is no evidence to suggest that poppers are physically or psychologically addictive. There is some evidence that suggests that heavy, regular users may develop a tolerance and need to increase their use to achieve the same effects.
Like drinking and driving, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal – with some drugs you can still be unfit to drive the day after using. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.