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People (and many gay men) usage them to boost sex and for the major head sirloin they give. Lock a drug that’s closely associated with happy party culture, and obtainable legally there is no a prescription in California as lengthy as they contain alkyl nitrites various other than amyl nitrite, and also as long as they’re offered for purposes other than for having actually fun.

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The backlash against poppers

There’s no lack of backlash against poppers in the happy community. In the beforehand days of the AIDS epidemic, poppers were also blamed for causing AIDS.

“Don’t use poppers. This is the first and last thing to it is in said about them,” composed Wilson and John Lauritsen in the book Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS, published in 1986.

This publication (which reads favor the poppers-version the Reefer Madness) advocated what was well-known at the time as the “drug hypothesis” the AIDS which argued that all AIDS deaths were linked to and likely resulted in by drug abuse (a not uncommon assumption at the time):

A huge and farming body of clinical research suggests that poppers space dangerous, and practically certainly implicated in resulting in AIDS. And yet the government agencies blithely expropriate the lie the poppers are just a unauthorized “room odorizer.”

Years later, we recognize that poppers are not the reason of HIV/AIDS and also the outlandish attacks versus poppers as the reason of AIDS have actually faded right into history. Now, anti-poppers messages come from a brand-new place: the recovery community.

The beforehand 21st century gay crisis du jour was the usage of crystal meth and also its effects in the community. Meth is well-known as a “driver” of new HIV infections, due to the fact that it have the right to reduce inhibitions and also lead to actions that is greater risk for HIV and also other STIs. Because meth is heavily connected with happy sex, and also so room poppers, many abstinence-based support groups like decision Meth Anonymous have taken a really public stand against poppers.

Essentially, the numerous who support abstinence-only substance usage treatment insurance claim poppers are a gateway drug ago to meth for civilization who are trying to stop using. No study has actually ever displayed a causal relationship between using poppers and relapsing on meth, but it stays the mainstream position among 12-steppers that making use of poppers IS a relapse, even if it is it leads to meth usage or not. Below is an instance from crystal Meth Anonymous, Minnesota:

“Whatever your background with alcohol and also other mind-altering substances, think us when we call you the our relapses have virtually always begun with a whiff of poppers, a puff that a joint, or a protect against in a community bar. For some of us, it take it time, yet for many it happened reasonably quickly: That innocent escape sent out us to our dealers looking for the actual thing.”

On the various other hand, damage reduction approach doesn’t demonize any specific drug—and fairly helps civilization investigate why the use of one or more substances isn’t working.

Substituting one medicine for another

Harm reduction-based drug therapy believes that substituting one medicine for another can be a realistic and helpful strategy to aid people stay away from medicine that room problematic.

An instance that i’ve seen people use in their stays is to substitute marijuana because that alcohol, opioids and meth.

With meth and poppers in the gay community, the injury reduction potential is enormous. Countless gay men who quit meth uncover that not utilizing meth can make their sex lives incredibly difficult. Not having actually a satisfying sex life have the right to be a major reason why some males relapse and start using meth again.

Finding other means to facilitate sex—in ar of meth—is essential.

Using poppers, as a method to facilitate sex there is no meth, is a real and also effective equipment for some people. Numerous former meth customers are fairly experienced through poppers, and may have constructed an association between poppers and also sex well before they ever before tried meth. The notion that the popper/sex connection can it is in re-established without meth in the picture is no at every outlandish. Countless gay males who have quit meth space doing just that.

What do people in the neighborhood say?

In my tenure as a counselor for Stonewall Project, i have never had actually a participant say that poppers has actually led to unwanted meth use. In an informal survey around poppers among people through a history of meth use, world said points like1:

“I nothing think there is any kind of correlation in between meth and poppers. My past experience has actually been to give up the poppers as soon as using meth, even though mine intention was to inhale poppers.”

In various other words, meth to be serving the same function as poppers, which was to facilitate sex.

Several world said that meth and poppers execute not mix well, i beg your pardon is an additional indication that poppers room not associated with meth for countless guys. “Poppers and also meth don’t mix well,” and, “Poppers perform not impact my ability to abstain native meth,” said two people.

Some world do have actually concerns around poppers and also if it can lead come meth use. “If I use poppers, ns will most likely want to smoke meth,” one human being said. An additional stated, “Any mind-altering problem is harmful.”

Harm reduction tips on making use of poppers

Like any kind of substance, misuse that poppers can lead come problems. To mitigate the harm that have the right to come from using poppers:

Do not swallow the liquid base that poppers. To prevent ingesting poppers, it can be useful to soak a cotton round with the poppers and also place that in a different container, together this to reduce the opportunity of splashing.Do not use poppers v Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs. The interaction in between these medicine be really risky because it have the right to lead to a significant reduction in blood pressure and feasible fainting.Do no smoke while utilizing poppers. Poppers are flammable.Before making use of poppers, make certain you’re in a ar where no meth is easily accessible (if you’re concerned that utilizing poppers have the right to lead to undesirable meth use).If you comfortable act so, speak to potential sex partners about the fact that friend are right into poppers, but not open to meth use.

Final thoughts

As countless enormous transforms have arisen in the gay ar over the past several decades, one continuous has to be that familiar smell the poppers in dance clubs, bathhouses and private parties. The reality is that countless gay men continue to use poppers because that sex, and probably will proceed to carry out so.

Make a same assessment around your problem use, and also think v if you have the right to use poppers in a way that functions for you. The Stonewall job can assist with this assessment, and help with purposes that selection from safer use to full abstinence. Speak to a substance usage counselor if friend have any kind of concerns about the method that substances space (or room not) fitting right into your life.

Jeremy Prillwitz, MA, CATC is has actually been a counselor in ~ the Stonewall Project due to the fact that 2012. The is a frequent presenter on harm reduction in ~ conferences and also trainings. The is currently writing a book challenging the abstinence-only treatment monopoly in the U.S., and also highlighting the positive and also pro-social facets of drugs.

Want come talk around the means you use drugs and alcohol?

The Stonewall job is below to help. Stonewall offers free harm reduction counseling to gay, bi and also trans guys who desire to assess their substance use and are thinking around making changes.

For an ext information and to look for services, visit

1Participants granted permission to share the following examples in this article.

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Article written through input from Anibal Mejia, counselor for the Stonewall Project.