Poppers Aren’t Addictive, Says New Study

Photos via Wikimedia Commons and Jessica Radanavong on Unsplash

A new study says that Poppers are not as addictive as some may think.

If you have stepped a toe into the gay club world or the gay sex/hookup world, you’ve probably come across a bottle of poppers in your life. These little containers of Alkyl or Amyl Nitrate are often used as inhalant drugs for enhancing sexual experiences. But, the drug has gotten a bad rep of late and become associated with the gay sex and club scenes’ darker sides.

But despite growing negative opinions about the little canisters, a new study from the University of Technology says that Poppers are, at least, non-addictive.

The Australian-based study analyzed 800 gay and bisexual men between the ages of 18 and 35. All of the study’s participants use poppers but the study “found little evidence of typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.”

In Australia, poppers have been classified as a Schedule 3 drug. This allows the bottles and cans to be distributed over the counter at pharmacies across the country. That said, the government did consider banning the drug at one point.

In response to the study and that potential banning, study lead Dr. Daniel Demant said the following:

“What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime. Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalized based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile. Banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a new class of criminals, basically overnight.”

In addition, the belief that poppers affect the brain because of the “rush” feeling is a misconception, according to a letter by Professor les Iverson, of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), to the UK Home Office.

“The brain perceives a transient ‘rush’ or ‘high’ as an indirect effect caused by increased blood flow caused by the dilation of blood vessels in brain and periphery,” he wrote. “The effects of ‘poppers’ on blood vessels in the brain should be considered to be ‘peripheral’ as these lie outside the ‘blood-brain barrier’.”

Photo by Emir Saldierna on Unsplash

That said, it’s not like poppers don’t come without any health risks. The substance has been connected to adverse effects like headaches, skin sensitivity, risk of an allergic reaction, and changes to blood pressure.

“It is not thought that amyl leads to many long-term issues, but there are some short-term risks,” said health expert Dr Aifric Boylan to Vice. “It is possible to develop an allergic reaction over time. Another rare but serious complication is methaemoglobinaemia, which means the blood becomes unable to carry oxygen. This can be life-threatening, and it happens when a person swallows rather than inhales poppers.”

As such, caution is still advised for any use of the drug. No matter how non-addictive researchers believe it to be.

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