FAQ

What are poppers? Are they safe?

FAQ

What are poppers? Are they safe?

Poppers are also called liquid alkyl nitrites. They’re short-lasting drugs that cause head-rushes, muscle relaxation, and increased blood flow. Effects start in seconds and last for a few minutes. You can find them as liquids that turn into a vapour that people inhale. A lot of people use poppers to make sex better! They can help some people have safe sex by reducing pain and injury. They also lower the risk of tearing from anal or vaginal sex. In Canada, they are common in nightlife and sex, especially for men who have sex with men.

Are poppers safe?

There is very little risk of dependency from poppers. Overdose is very rare too. If someone does overdose, hospitals can treat it.

There’s a higher risk for people with certain medical conditions like….

  • recent head trauma
  • bleeding into the head
  • glaucoma
  • heart disease

Some medications and illegal drugs can also increase the risk, including…

  • drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction
  • high blood pressure medications
  • certain migraine drugs
  • high doses of aspirin

How can you make poppers safer?

There’s a low risk for dependency or addiction from poppers. They’re generally safe when you inhale them, but there can be some risks.

Like any substance, there can be side effects and misuse of poppers. But there are ways to lower the risk:

  • Using them with Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs can lead to a big drop in blood pressure and sometimes fainting. There’s a high risk from the interaction between these drugs.
  • Poppers are flammable, so avoiding smoking, candles, or other flames can lower your risk.
  • Avoid swallowing the liquid base. You can soak a cotton ball with the liquid and place it in a separate container. That way, you can’t splash or swallow the liquid.

Harm reduction potentials

Harm reduction sometimes looks at substituting one drug for another. This is a realistic and helpful strategy to help people stay away from drugs have more risks. Because of the low risks from poppers, some people use them instead of other drugs like meth for chemsex.

More info

Poppers 101 – Freddie

Information about what poppers are, the history behind poppers, and ways to practice safe sex while using poppers.

ChemSex + Harm Reduction

Explanation of what chemsex is, what harm reduction is, and how to practice harm reduction with chemsex.

Poppers Safety Guide [PDF]

PDF of Poppers Safety Guide from chemsexharmreduction.org discussing what poppers do, possible risks from poppers, and what to not mix poppers with.

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