Alkyl Nitrites Addiction and Abuse
Referred to as “poppers” in the vernacular, alkyl nitrites are a group of chemical compounds popularly used as inhalants to instigate muscle relaxation and head rush. An overall lack of extensive, focused research leaves many facts about alkyl nitrites addiction and abuse unknown.
Sold as liquids which emit an inhalable vapor at room temperature, this chemical class includes ethyl nitrite, amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, and cyclohexyl nitrite. Its history began when Antoine Jr. Balard, a French chemist, first synthesized amyl nitrite in 1844. A little over twenty years later, Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton found medicinal use in amyl nitrite as a treatment for angina.
Since its initial synthesis, varieties of alkyl nitrites have cycled into recreational use. Changing regulations have repeatedly influenced and altered the packaging and distribution methods of sellers.
Common Street Names
- liquid aroma
- leather cleaner
- room odorizer
- video head cleaner
Alkyl nitrites do not have a DEA-assigned classification. However, multiple pieces of legislation since the 1960s have slowly tightened the restrictions surrounding alkyl nitrites.
Of the alkyl nitrites, only amyl nitrite is specifically available through medical prescription. It is administered via inhalation to treat angina pectoris and works as a rapidly acting vasodilator. Amyl nitrite is also used in combination with other drugs for treatment of cyanide poisoning.
Consumption of alkyl nitrites by any method other than inhalation (ingestion or aspiration) is dangerous and potentially fatal.
History and Trends in Alkyl Nitrites Addiction and Abuse
Alkyl nitrites have been used for angina pectoris since 1867. When prescribed, amyl nitrite comes as a liquid in cloth-covered glass ampules to be broken between the fingers. The surrounding cloth protects against glass cuts. Vapor from the crushed ampules is then inhaled. The nickname “poppers” originates from the popping of these glass ampules.
Amyl nitrite has shifted back and forth between prescription-only and over-the-counter several times in the past century. During a period of time in the 1960s when amyl nitrite was available without restriction, recreational use swelled in popularity. Concern that too many individuals were using amyl nitrite without medical necessity grew. It was at this point in 1969 that the FDA reinstated the prescription requirement, which has stayed intact since.
With amyl nitrite off limits, other alkyl nitrites addiction and abuse began, including butyl nitrite. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 then made illegal any use of butyl nitrite except for commercial purposes. Banning of additional forms of alkyl nitrites followed suit in 1990. Under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the alkyl nitrites are considered banned hazardous products if marketed for non-commercial uses. They can still be found for sale in small bottles under the labels of “video head cleaner” or “room odorizer.”
Alkyl nitrites relax smooth muscles and create a flushed high feeling that lasts for just a few minutes. They are favored for their reported ability to enhance sexual experiences by dilating blood vessels, which relaxes the muscles. A dangerous overdose may occur if too much is inhaled. Alkyl nitrites are potentially fatal when ingested or aspirated and should never be swallowed or brought into contact with the skin.
Alkyl nitrite drug interactions can happen. Taking alkyl nitrites while on other medications, such as Viagra, or while consuming alcohol can have devastating consequences. Pregnant women should not use alkyl nitrites unless expressly directed by a doctor as sudden drops in blood pressure could endanger the fetus. Alkyl nitrites are highly flammable and should be handled cautiously.
Side Effects of Alkyl Nitrites
The abuse of alkyl nitrites and misuse of prescription amyl nitrite can have adverse effects that include headache, temporary drop in blood pressure, dizziness, weakness, nausea, and increased heart rate. An overdose of alkyl nitrites can result in Methemoglobinemia and Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome (SSDS). Methemoglobinemia disrupts the body’s ability to distribute the oxygen it needs to function. SSDS happens when the heart is beating too quickly or irregularly and ultimately stops altogether. Increased risk of pneumonia has been associated as a long-term health effect.
The results of a study performed with rodents to investigate the neurotoxicity of alkyl nitrites suggested learning and memory may be hindered by use of alkyl nitrites. Physiological alkyl nitrite addiction is unlikely to occur. However, though uncommon, psychological alkyl nitrite addiction may form.
Signs of Alkyl Nitrites Addiction and Abuse
There is limited research available on alkyl nitrite addiction. One manufacturer of prescription amyl nitrite states that tolerance can form but that details remain unknown on under which conditions and after what length of time this takes place. Researchers of a study involving mice partaking in alkyl nitrites noted higher drug-paired place preference, which supports the possibility that alkyl nitrites can create psychological dependence. Individuals should seek treatment for alkyl nitrites if signs of addiction appear or alkyl nitrite withdrawal symptoms become problematic.
Treatment for Alkyl Nitrite Addiction and Abuse
As studies on alkyl nitrite addiction are infrequent, the history and results of treatment for alkyl nitrites are also limited. Use and abuse of alkyl nitrites should not be taken lightly. Alkyl nitrite withdrawal symptoms and addiction should be handled by trained professionals.
Let us be those trained professional that help you or your loved one overcome their alkyl nitrite addiction. Call White Sands Tampa today at 1-877-640-7820.