'Artisanal' Poppers Are Lolzy, Yet Totally Dangerous
During my sophomore year of college, I was introduced to the wonders of anal sex. It wasn’t my first time hitting the rodeo—in fact, I began having sex many years before then. But it was during this time that my roommate told me of the fantastic sensations that zinged through his body after having sniffed poppers prior to hopping into bed with his boyfriend. So, naturally, I tested the inhalant myself before meeting up with a random peer on Grindr. Life was good then; the sex, even better.
For those of you who don’t know, most poppers spur from the pure form of the chemical compounds alkyl nitrite or isobutyl nitrite, which relax smooth muscles throughout the body. Most people use the semi-legal recreational drug to make anal sex much more pleasurable, while others snort the drug prior to heading out to the club—it’s a simple high that will release any hidden inhibition.
Traditional poppers can easily be found on the shelves of sex shops everywhere; and if you happen to live in New York City, possibly even at the counter of your neighborhood bodega. Perhaps the cheapest high on the market, popper brands like “Locker Room” and “Nitro” range from $5 to $20 and do the job really, really well. There are some warranted side-effects including minute vision damage and increased heart rate, but most users only tend to suffer an acute headache when sobering up.
However, a new, obscure version of the sexy fume is warping how consumers view their safety when high-key sniffing the psychoactive substance: small, locally made, “artisanal” poppers. While the name is LOL-worthy, the oftentimes unlabeled and house brand product is stirring concerns among individuals who are simply trying to make their next sexual encounter a breeze.
Shown to leave users with intense, horror-like effects with the teeniest of doses, these poppers are filled with ethyl chloride, a chemical compound traditionally used as an anesthetic. Artisanal poppers have been found in stores with no recommended dosages on their labels. These small bottles of poppers have also been secretly advertised as cleaning products for glass and metal surfaces within certain shops. Yikes!
The dangers that coincide with ethyl chloride in fume form have yet to be closely studied; still, researchers and subjects have reason to believe artisanal poppers hold real danger—like unconsciousness, heart palpitations, and death—to the consumer, and therefor should be aptly avoided.
“Huffing, sniffing glue, doing whippets—using nitrous oxide canisters like those that are used for aerosolized whipped cream—these are things that are usually done by adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds,” penned researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles concerning the new wave of artisanal poppers. “It’s not something that most gay and bi men have any real cultural knowledge of, and now it’s being marketed as a cheaper alternative to nitrite poppers. This is a concern—and why we wanted to publish this [report].”
This is scary news, especially considering certain studies have found poppers to be among the 20 most abused drugs in the United States. Specifically within the queer community, excessive use of poppers has been linked to increased condomless anal sex, which is the leading factor in the transmission of HIV. The troublesome euphoric feeling induced by artisanal poppers coupled with its terrifying impacts on the body is reason enough to stick to familiar, name brand poppers. After all, if you want to have fun, enjoyable anal, the least you can do is protect yourself.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on safer sex.
Images via. The Independent, Tumblr, and Dazed Digital.