“Poppers” The Newest, Lethal Designer Drug
Every year it seems, a new drug comes on the scene and causes problems. In the morass that is 21st century drug-addicted America, it often feels like we can’t catch a break, for as soon as we learn about one drug, how to prevent it, how to avoid it, etc. another one jumps into view. This is the case with “poppers” a new, inhalant, designer drug that is also potentially lethal.
The original form of poppers is a form of inhalant that contains alkyl nitrites, similar to amyl nitrite. This form of inhalant has been around for decades and has been very popular in the rave and party/dance community. The new form of poppers, however, is far more dangerous.
An Old Drug Made New
Perhaps the only thing worse than a brand new drug on the scene is an old drug that’s been changed to make it even more potent. This is even more dangerous because then people continue to take the new version of the drug, expecting it to react much in the same way as the old version did, and yet it does not. It delivers a far more potent and serious reaction instead. One could relate this to why so many people die from taking fentanyl. They think it is going to be like any other opioid, and yet they are often fatally mistaken.
The new version of poppers hitting the streets have certain solvents in them which, while they may produce a stronger high, also pose risk to the heart. Such solvents can create a sudden, deadly heart rhythm disorder called, “Sudden Sniffing Death,” a side effect that was rarely seen in traditional poppers. If one does not die from taking poppers, other likely side effects are short-term memory loss, short-term delirium, loss of cognitive ability, nerve damage, etc.
A Lack of Information on a Deadly Drug
Unfortunately, although poppers are growing in popularity and have already claimed several lives, there exists very little information about them. To make matters worse, the medical community seems rather disinterested in addressing this new health risk. Perhaps the medicos of 21st America have their hands full with the opioid epidemic.
“Doctors are taught almost nothing about regular nitrite poppers. They're little more than a footnote at the back of most addiction textbooks, lumped in with sniffing glue and huffing aerosols, even though the physiologic effects are quite different...”
According to Dr. Timothy Hall, lead researcher, and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles:
“Doctors are taught almost nothing about regular nitrite poppers. They're little more than a footnote at the back of most addiction textbooks, lumped in with sniffing glue and huffing aerosols, even though the physiologic effects are quite different. Gay and bisexual men, on the other hand, have little exposure to huffing but tend to think of nitrite poppers as fairly benign. There’s a real risk here to be taking a much more harmful substance than they're expecting, and for clinicians not to recognize the difference.”
The new form of poppers have appeared most prominent so far in the LGBTQ community, but interest in the drug likely will not stop there. Demographics most often affected by inhalant drugs have traditionally been young people, teens, and adolescents who sought to experiment with a “new drug” that all the “cool kids” were doing. If young people start experimenting with the new form of poppers, it is certain that the death toll will increase amongst that demographic too.
Preventing Drug Use in the Home
Parents should do their best to talk to their kids and to educate them about the risks attendant in any type of drug use. Young adults who participate in the party and rave scene should do so with knowledge of attendant risks in drug use, and they should abstain. The key problem in any kind of inhalant abuse is the lack of information on attendant risks. When people know the very serious risks involved, they are far less likely to experiment.