Washington, D.C. – “Poppers” have been a fixture for LGBTQ people on the club and sex party circuit for years. It is a liquid drug used for recreation that can give an instant high when inhaled. Other names for it are amyl nitrate, butyl nitrite and liquid gold. The effects of poppers are immediate and include euphoria, warm sensations and an increased heart rate. Poppers can be a sex enhancer and contribute to sexual arousal. They relax the anal muscles, but can also bring on dizziness and headaches. The small bottles are usually sold at adult novelty stores and are often at the counter at gas station markets and convenience stores. Popular brand names include Buzz and Rush.

Although intense, most of the euphoric effects wear off quickly, typically within a few minutes. The drug is unsafe for people to take, and the FDA, mindful of post-lockdown partiers eager to get back in the club scene and return to the normalcy of nightlife and all that entails, has issued a new warning: don’t use poppers. On its website, the FDA notes, “FDA is advising consumers not to purchase or use nitrite ‘poppers’ which can result in serious adverse health effects, including death. These products are marketed as nail polish removers but are being ingested or inhaled for recreational use or to enhance sexual experiences.” The FDA cites brand names including “Jungle Juice, Extreme Formula, HardWare, Quick Silver, Super RUSH, Super RUSH Nail Polish Remover and Premium Ironhorse, among others.

The warning is not random. The FDA says it has “observed an increase in reports of deaths and hospitalizations with issues such as severe headaches, dizziness, increase in body temperature, difficulty breathing, extreme drops in blood pressure, blood oxygen issues (methemoglobinemia) and brain death after ingestion or inhalation of nitrite ‘poppers.’” According to data from the 2020 Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment, popper use is significant in the LGBTQ+ community, especially among gay, bisexual, and queer men. Poppers are often used to facilitate receptive anal sex. The report data show that one in five male-identified LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians used poppers in the last year. The FDA also suggests that “Consumers should also consider reporting their adverse events to MedWatch: FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program and information about the products they used to Reporting Unlawful Sales of Medical Products on the Internet | FDA. The FDA encourages consumers with questions about product safety to submit an inquiry or to visit www.fda.gov/fcic for additional information.” (Philadelphia Gay News – Victoria Brownworth at https://epgn.com/2021/07/14/fda-warns-against-using-poppers/)

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