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Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline

Freephone: 0808 808 2234
Or text DAN to: 81066


Poppers, rush, liquid gold, ram, thrust, TNT.

What do Poppers look like?

Clear yellow liquid usually sold in small bottles or occasionally in glass vials which are broken onto handkerchiefs prior to inhaling the vapours. The glass 'pops' as it breaks - hence the street name "poppers".

Poppers in a small bottle

Scientific Names

Amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite

Generic Name

Alkyl nitrites

Effects Of Poppers

Desired Effects:

Intense, but short-lived, exhilaration therefore sometimes used during sex. Effects last a few minutes.


Dizziness, flushing, nausea, vomiting, headache, disorientation, fainting.



Accidents whilst under the influence. Swallowing the liquid rather than inhaling the fumes is extremely dangerous and there have been a small number of deaths from this. Reduces blood pressure, which can cause fainting.


Prolonged headaches, decreased heart rate, low blood pressure.

Reducing Harm

Please view our Reducing Harm page for more information.

How do Poppers work?

Inhalant. Vasodilator - this opens up the blood vessels causing a rush of blood through the body and brain which can be experienced as a thrilling effect.

Legal status of Poppers

Regulated under the Medicines Act. Possession of Prescription Only Medicines without a prescription is not illegal, but supply can be a serious offence.

How Are Poppers Taken?

The liquid gives of vapours which are inhaled.


Nitrites come in small bottles or glass vials.

Medical uses of Poppers

In the treatment of angina, constricted blood vessels to the heart.

Where do they come from?

Nitrites are chemical compounds refined using Nitrous Oxide. They have been used in medicine since the mid-1800s, to relieve the symptoms of angina. Amyl nitrite has been replaced with more precise technology in medicine. The lower potency Butyl Nitrite is most often found for sale as 'poppers'.

Helping services

It is rare for community drug agencies or drug counselling services to have clients report problems with nitrites although these are probably the best services to help with such problems. Most areas of the UK have ‘street agencies’ or projects (sometimes called community drug services or community drug teams) which offer a range of services including information and advice, counselling, and sometimes support groups and complementary therapies such as acupuncture. Some services have extended working hours and may offer weekend support. If use of this substance becomes a problem you can seek help, advice and counselling from a service in your area. GPs can make referrals to specialist drug services.

Parents & other relatives

Many drug agencies also provide lots of advice and support to parents, family members and partners of people using drugs. They may provide relative support groups or advice, guidance and counselling on a one to one basis.

You can view a list of National Drug Agencies.

If you would like to talk about Poppers problems then please call the DAN 24/7 Helpline on:

0808 808 2234
Last updated: 31 December 2012