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Nitrites

Poppers, rush, liquid gold

Alcoholic Drinks

Common names

Poppers, rush, liquid gold.

Generic name

Alkyl nitrites

Scientific names

Amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite.

Action

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.

Drug form

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".

Drug effects

Desired:

Intense, but short-lived, exhilaration therefore sometimes used during sex.

Side effects:

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

Medical use

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

Risks

Short-term:

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.

Long-term:

Prolonged headaches, decreased heart rate, low blood pressure.

Legal status

The sale of Nitrites is controlled under the Medicines Act. After a test case pursued by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in summer 1996 they can only legally be supplied by a pharmacist although a prescription is not needed. The Medicines Control Agency is currently seeking a change to make them only available on prescription. This had not taken effect by the end of 1996. The possession of Nitrites is not an offence.

How is it taken?

The liquid gives of vapours which are inhaled.

Paraphernalia

Nitrites come in small bottles or glass vials.

Images

small bottles

Where does it come from?

Mainly imported into this country and sold in tobacconists, record stores, and sex shops.

Helping services

It is rare for drug counselling agencies to have clients report problems with nitrites although these are probably the best services to help with such problems. It seems likely that the reason why few users ask for help is that few of them have any problems with their use of a drug which is pleasurable to them most of the time and legal.