Inhalants (amyl nitrite, poppers)
Amyl Nitrite is categorised as a depressant drug as it slows down messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
When first used as a medicine, amyl nitrite came in a small glass capsule encased in cotton wool. This was crushed between the fingers resulting in a popping noise - giving the drug their street name - ‘poppers'. Butyl and isobutyl nitrites have been sold under many names and have been sold as many things to avoid the eyes of the law.
Inhaling nitrites relaxes smooth muscles throughout the body, including the sphincter muscles of the anus and the vagina. This causes the blood vessels to dilate (which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure), increases heart rate, and produces a sensation of heat and excitement that usually lasts for a couple of minutes.
Amyl nitrites are often used as a club drug or to enhance a sexual experience. The head rush, euphoria, uncontrollable laughter or giggling, and other sensations that result from a drop in blood pressure are often felt to increase sexual arousal and desire. It is widely reported that poppers can enhance and prolong orgasms.
Short term effects
The short-term effects of using amyl nitrite may include light-headedness and giddiness, increased sensual awareness, loss of inhibitions, skin sensitivity, headache, nose bleeds and loss of consciousness.
The long term effects of amyl nitrite:
Compared to many drugs, amyl nitrite has less toxicity as long as it is inhaled. However, people who are anaemic, pregnant, have high blood pressure or a history of cerebral hemorrhaging should avoid use of nitrites.
While the possibility of death or serious injury from inhaling is fairly remote, there is a major toxicity problem with nitrites if they are swallowed rather than inhaled. When eaten, nitrites interfere with the ability of blood to transport oxygen. Oral consumption of nitrites has led to death in some circumstances.
Combining amyl and Viagra is also problematic, causing loss of consciousness, and in some circumstances - death. As poppers increase pressure within the eyeball, users with glaucoma take additional risks when using poppers.
Sources of information:
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre
Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre
DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation
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