“Poppers” is a popular name for nitrite derivatives. They were originally packed in the form of capsules that gave a ‘pop’ when they were opened (hence the name ‘poppers’). Poppers have been sold in sex shops in bottles of 8 to 30 ml for about forty years and are no longer used for medicinal purposes. They contain amyl nitrites, pentyl nitrites and isopropyl nitrites (butyl and isobutyl alcool). The European Union only allows Isopropyl nitrite-based poppers on its territory. In theory, the use of poppers is not banned and they are not considered as drugs as long as they are made according to an authorized composition. The legislation is quite unclear and it varies between countries. Poppers are quite popular: according to the 2010 health barometer, 5.3% of the 18-64 year olds report having used poppers in their lifetime.
Poppers were first synthesized in the 19th century. From the 1970s they were widely used as a euphoric stimulant and aphrodisiac. They have become widespread among homosexuals as well as straight users because they significantly enlarge the anus and induce strong erections. Among adolescents they are mainly known for their short euphoric kick. The ban or tolerance of poppers varies between countries, partly because they are associated with drugs by the authorities. In France, poppers based on butyl and pentyl nitrite were banned in 1990. Alkyl nitrite remained available until 2011, when all poppers were banned in France. In the spring of 2013, poppers based on isopropyl nitrite were allowed to be sold again. Still, poppers continued to be widely sold on the Internet and in sex shops. A bottle costs between 8 and 15 euros. The most well-known brands are Rush, Juic'd and Amsterdam poppers.
When used sexually, the idea is to leave a bottle of poppers open in a room and use it as an aroma diffuser so it evaporates aromatically into the air. For recreational use, poppers are inhaled straight from the bottle or the fumes are inhaled into the mouth. The effect is immediate and lasts only a few seconds: a euphoric, blissful feeling, short laughter kicks, warm sensations in the body, sexual disinhibition and increased sensuality. For sexual use, poppers act very well as an aphrodisiac: increased desire and sensuality, long and hard erections, a larger anus and vagina, an enhanced orgasm and delayed ejaculation. Known side effects of real abuse are dizziness, strong headaches and increased internal pressure on the eyeball. This can cause glaucoma. However, a UK government study states that the danger caused by poppers to individuals and society is no worse than the excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco. Physical dependence has not been observed. However, the psychological reliance on poppers has been recognized, not so much towards the product itself, but for its sexually arousing potential. The Poppers + Viagra mixture, on the other hand, is considered extremely dangerous (risk of cardiac arrest) and the product is very flammable.