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Can You Get Addicted To Poppers?

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,
My boyfriend uses poppers (alkyl nitrates) during sex and he says it enhances his orgasms. He'd really like me to use them with him, but I'm afraid I may get addicted or something. Is it possible to get addicted to them? And do they have any negative side effects?
Signed: Can You Get Addicted To Poppers?

Dear Can You Get Addicted To Poppers?,


Poppers is a slang term used for various alkyl nitrates which are inhaled for recreational purposes.  Most often, poppers are used recreationally as a sexual enhancer or by young substance abusers.  Alkyl nitrates were first used to treat chest pain associated with heart disease, but since the 1970’s have become popular in the club culture.   Poppers have a long history of abuse due to the rush of warm sensations and dizziness experienced when the vapors are inhaled.


TeenHealthFX wants to emphasize the negative effects associated with introducing any foreign substance into your body unless it has been prescribed by a medical professional. 


Negative effects associated with the use of poppers include: 

  • loss of consciousness from inadequate oxygen intake
  • irregular heart rhythms
  • harmful effects to your liver and kidneys
  • neurological dysfunction or damage, including a decrease in IQ


Poppers have not been shown to be physically addicting, but psychological dependence may develop and the user may feel that they are unable to have sex unless they are used. 


Given the information presented above, FX strongly recommends that you do not join him in using poppers. FX also recommends that you show him this information and strongly encourage him not to use these drugs either. If you find that you continue to have concerns about his use of poppers, or you feel pressured by him in the relationship to use them (or do anything else you do not want to), please seek out the guidance and support of a trusted adult such as parent or school counselor.


This information is meant to guide any thoughts or questions one may have regarding the use of poppers.  Definitive advice on this topic should be sought from a medical professional.  If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX