Your LGBT+Child Probably Knows about “Poppers,” but Do You?

A popular drug in 1970’s discos and bathhouses, “poppers” are still on the scene.  They belong to a class of chemicals known as alkyl nitrites and come in small bottles. “Poppers” are inhaled.

Other Names of “Poppers”

It’s also known on the street as “jungle juice,” “leather polish,” “Blue Boy,” “Everest,” and can be sold in sex shops. In countries where it is outlawed, it is disguised as room deodorizers or video tape head cleaners.

Invented in 1844 by Antoine Jerome Balard, a French chemist who synthesized amyl nitrite, it is used to relax involuntary smooth muscles in the throat and anus as well as for angina pectoris, a heart condition. In 1867,  records show that it was used to dilate coronary arteries of patients to improve the blood flow to the heart muscle. Today, the organic nitrites are prepared from alcohols and sodium nitrite in a sulfuric acid solution.

“Poppers” got its name from the popping sound the bottles made when crushed in your fingers.  This action released the amyl nitrite.  They used to be enclosed in glass with mesh called “pearls.”  You also popped these older models with your fingers.

Its Effects

Its contents are inhaled once the small cap bottle is opened and held under your nose. Used recreationally, the effects start after fifteen seconds and last up to three minutes. The mild effect is similar to Ecstasy.


If you drink the solution, you could die or go into a coma.  If you take “poppers” with a sex drug like Viagra, also a vasodilator, it can lower your blood pressure to a dangerous level, and can result in fainting, a stroke or heart attack, even death.

“Poppers” are highly flammable and can cause chemical burns, nausea, headache and disorientation.  After using “poppers,” you can experience temporary and permanent loss of vision.

Parents, when you talk to your kids about drugs, include “poppers” in the discussion.

When Your Child is Gay

When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know

For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.

Wesley Cullen Davidson

Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting as well as gay and lesbian content. For the past two years, Wesley has concentrated almost exclusively on the lesbian and gay community, specifically on advising straight parents of gay children on how to be better parents and raise happy, well-adjusted adults

Leave a Comment