Poppers (Amyl Nitrite, Butyl Nitrite, Isobutyl Nitrite)   

Street names    

Amyls, kix, Liquid gold, Ram, Rock hard, Rush, Thrust, TNT

General Info

Poppers are usually found in the form of a liquid chemical (a nitrite) sold in a small bottle. Commonly, the chemical is alkyl nitrite. Other nitrites like amyl nitrite (and butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite) have also used been used. Nitrites dilate the blood vessels and allow more blood to get to the heart. They are sniffed direct from the bottle and have a strong acrid smell.


Poppers (nitrites) have a range of effects:

  • They give a head-rush high that lasts a couple of minutes
  • Enhanced sexual experiences
  • Chemical burns to body tissues – with the development of a rash around the nose and mouth, and/or irritation of the nose and throat
  • They can leave some people feeling sick or faint with poor co-ordination
  • Death – if swallowed; or if used by individuals with heart problems 


  • Taking poppers is potentially dangerous for anyone with heart problems, anaemia or glaucoma (an eye disease)
  • They can cause your blood pressure to drop to a dangerous level. So, you shouldn’t take them if you have problems with your blood pressure, are on any blood pressure medication, or if you are taking Viagra
  • You can die due to injury to red blood cells and reduced oxygen supply to vital organs
  • You may lose consciousness and could die through choking on your vomit. Using poppers with alcohol can increase this risk
  • Poppers are linked with risky sexual behaviour and may lead to catching a sexually transmitted disease
  • They can burn your skin on contact and can kill you if you swallow them
  • They're highly flammable
  • They can cause nausea, headache, and disorientation
  • Fatal ‘sudden sniffing death syndrome’ has been reported due to development of an abnormal heart rhythm when taking poppers
  • Long-term:  Prolonged headaches, decreased heart rate, low blood pressure