Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of Amyl

What’s the deal with amyl?

Amyl nitrite is an inhalant. It's also a vasodilator, meaning it dilates the blood vessels in the body. Amyl is just one of many in the class of drug known as nitrites. Others include butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite and nitroglycerine.

Amyl nitrite is used in some cardiac medical procedures and in the treatment of poisoning by cyanide. Historically, poppers were used (and still are used) to enhance sexual experience. 

How does it work?

Amyl nitrite is a clear, highly volatile and extremely flammable liquid that is inhaled directly from the bottle by its user. Effects are felt within 30 seconds of inhalation and may last for up to two or three minutes. 

Effects

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any drug. Amyl nitrite may affect people differently based on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed

Short Term Effects

The effect of poppers can be felt almost immediately and may last up to a few minutes. These may include:

  • Head rush
  • Euphoria
  • Flushing of the face
  • Increased heart rate
  • Warming sensations
  • Feelings of excitement
  • Relaxation of involuntary muscles, especially the anal and vaginal sphincter

Psychological effects include increased sensual awareness, visual distortions, lowered inhibitions and impaired judgement.

Long Term Effects

While the level of harm generally experienced from inhalation of nitrites is low, the use of these substances can result in a range of clinical conditions varying from mild allergic reactions to life threatening methaeglobinaemia (a blood disorder which can lead to inadequate oxygen supply to body tissue). Amyl should be avoided by people who are anaemic, pregnant and those with a history of high blood pressure.

Long term effects of Amyl Nitrate use include:

  • Skin lesions
  • Dermatological problems particularly around the nose, mouth, lips and face
  • Increased intraocular pressure (risky for people with underlying glaucoma)

Safety

If you're going to use any form of drug, go about it safely. You make the choices that determine what substances you put into your body. Whatever the choice - remember to be safe and responsible - with yourself and with others.

We've got some helpful tips to consider.

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them
  • Don’t let other people pressure you into doing drugs
  • Try to avoid mixing drugs with other drugs or be informed about the risks
  • Try to be aware of exactly what you are taking and how much 

Overdose

Whilst the possibility of death or even serious injury from inhaling amyl is remote, if you happen to swallow rather than inhale that thing - you're gonna cause major medical problems by interfering with the ability of the blood to transport oxygen. Ingesting any of the nitrite family is extremely dangerous and may result in death.

Inhaling the fluid rather than the vapours because you're munted and have been trying to sniff whilst lying in a horizontal position can lead to severe medical issues similar to those that occur when amyl nitrite just happens to be swallowed. 

Mixing with Other Drugs

The effect of poppers in combination with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medication is unpredictable.

Amyl + ED drugs like Viagra will place enormous strain on the body and may affect the rate of breathing, place excess stress on the heart and blood vessels. This could result in blacking out or a fatal drop in blood pressure.

Amyl + Amphetamine will increase the strain on the heart and put the body under excess stress.

Living with HIV

Let's be frank, recreational drug use (whether it's legal or not) is likely to interact or even interfere with the treatment regime of a person living with HIV. Changes in the concentration of ARV's is a result of two or more drugs interacting. These changes in concentration are known to be the very thing which ultimatley leads to treatment failure and toxicity.  

If you're HIV+ and a recreational user, check in regularly with your GP or an experienced HIV medical practitioner. Know your limits, know your body and be aware of the impact that other substances may have on your treatment.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

We're unaware of any interactions or cross interaction between Amyl Nitrate and hormone therapy. Except for this.  Always exercise caution if mixing drugs.

Treatment

If amyl has begun to have a negative impact on your health, your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it. Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop your use of poppers, reach out for some support.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available both to people who use AOD, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, AOD treatment service or local community health service.

Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve an AOD-free lifestyle. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided both for people who use AOD, and their family members or support person. 

Withdrawal & Rehab

Psychological withdrawal is more common than physical symptoms with amyl nitrite. People coming off poppers after a period of use may experience:

  • Fatigue and or general irritability 
  • A reduced ability to experience pleasure
Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about Amyl should consult a health professional.