Poppers: 10 things to know before abusing the magic jar

This is the little bottle that makes us hover, which is sometimes abused in dances or crazy nights of love. But this popper that bursts us, this stranger, is it so innocent?

What are poppers?

Poppers is a vasodilator (which dilates the blood vessels), initially used in medicine for the treatment of certain heart diseases. The ampoules containing these substances produced at the opening a noise (pop) which gave the name to the product. The main side effects observed were euphoria and a feeling of relaxation, which were diverted to be used during sex between individuals, for a so-called “recreational” use in opposition to its medical use.

Invented in 1844 by the French chemist Antoine-Jérôme Balard who synthesizes amyl nitrite, it was used during the 19th century to cure angina breasts. In the 1970s, poppers first circulated in homosexual circles for its effects on sexuality: increased duration of erection, amplification of orgasmic contractions, delayed ejaculation.

At the advent of AIDS in the early 80s, there is a time poppers to be responsible for Kaposi syndrome (brown spots that were seen on the first HIV-positive people), but no evidence has ever been made. We are now sure that this has nothing to do with HIV, and that its use does not allow the transmission of STIs.

Its use then spread to all young people, who seek more euphoric effects than effects on sexuality. At 17, one in ten young people would have snorted at least once. Then about 3% of 18-25-year-olds, settled in consumption according to the figures of the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), three times more than the average.

What’s it?

An inspiration in each nostril (the smell may seem very chemical at first glance), then the feeling of flying, of fainting, of living a very strong moment (hence its use during sex), the body vibrates and dilates (including the anus) while the brain is compressing, it is very hot for two minutes. And after, nothing. Everyone reacts differently to the euphoria caused by the context: laughter, feeling of living music, increased excitement, and sexual energy.

Is it legal?

Poppers are legal in France in 2017. Its use and sale are allowed. This was not always the case: banned for sale in France on March 26, 1990, the former Prime Minister François Fillon tried in 2007 to ban the manufacture, import, export, export offering, holding for sale or distribution free of charge, offering for sale – but the Council of State has decided otherwise. Despite the attempt in 2011 by the Interministerial Mission for the fight against drugs and drug addiction to doing the same, the Council of State canceled a decree to this effect on June 3, 2013.

However, these small discrete vials have always been available for sale on the internet, or in sex shops or gay saunas.

Where is it illegal?

This product has been banned since July 11, 2014, in Canada. After banning the sale in January 2016, the UK was forced to reconsider its decision after being retaliated by the English Drugs Observatory.

From where?

The only way to use poppers is to inhale its vapors through the nose and sometimes through the mouth (but this is rare).

The use recommended by manufacturers is to leave the bottle open in a clean room, well ventilated and dry, and let the effects spread in the ambient air. At least that’s what they post on the label, probably not to be the target of lawsuits in case of medical consequences following too much inhalation.

There is a technique that involves plunging the cigarette into the poppers and drawing a taff: CAUTION, the product is flammable and potentially explosive in contact with fire. So be careful of cigarettes or other products that smoke.

Do not drink poppers! This could create irreversible damage to your ENT pathways.

Anal administration may be just as dangerous. Inflammation of the mucous membranes can lead to severe injuries, from doors to STIs including HIV.

Is it eaten?

The recipe of Jalapenos Poppers has absolutely nothing to do with small euphoric flasks, even if the stuffed pepper will undoubtedly give you sweat and dilate your anus a little.

What are the risks?

For occasional use: dizziness, headache, dizziness, sweating, redness of the skin, eye irritation, sensitivity to light, low blood pressure, burning of the nostrils.

Quickly consult the emergencies in case of symptoms, which can be installed and are sometimes long to disappear.

During regular use: sneezing, runny nose and inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes, skin problems: rashes, crusts around the nose or mouth (burns).

In high doses, the poppers can:

  • Cause respiratory depression
  • Damage the nasal septa
  • Severe anemia (fatigue due to decreased ability of red blood cells to fix oxygen)
  • Cause temporary problems of erection (It’s a shame, but since it dilates the vessels, it can prevent erection)
  • Cause redness and swelling of the face
  • Make yellowish crusts appear around the nose and lips.

When does it go wrong?

  • Some highly concentrated poppers cause severe dizziness or even discomfort.
  • In case of overdose, you may have these symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal cramps, severe headache, dizziness, fainting (possible fall), visual impairment (reversible), seizures (rare), decreased intake of oxygen in the body that can, in some exceptional and rare cases, be fatal.

Can we become addicted?


No, poppers do not cause addiction. Stopping does not result in a withdrawal syndrome.

What precautions to take?

However, any consumption is subject to risks. It is always better to abstain, in any case, to postpone consumption, when one feels tired, stressed, bad or that one experiences apprehension. It is also better to consume with people you trust, in a reassuring context.

However, you have to be careful:

  • Do not multiply inhalations in a short time (risk of overdose)
  • In case of headache or dizziness, stop breath and breathe fresh air
  • Never use poppers near a flame. The product is flammable
  • Avoid contact of the liquid with mucous membranes, especially the nose, mouth, and eyes. This can cause burns by drying of the skin
  • Mixing alcohol and poppers promotes headaches, dizziness, and fainting
  • It is not recommended to use poppers in combination with Viagra
  • Do not take poppers when driving a vehicle
  • By developing some sexual arousal, taking poppers can also encourage risk-taking. Remember not to forget condoms. Or to overcome these omissions with PrEP.

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