Scene term for the liquid and easily volatile substance amyl nitrite (sometimes also isoamyl or butyl nitrite), an ester from amyl alcohol (resp. isoamyl or butyl alcohol)and salpetric acid with drive-increasing, exciting effects. The vapour is breathed in through the mouth or nose from a small bottle or tubesniefed. The actual active substance is the amyl alcohol, to which amyl nitrite is hydrolyzed spontaneously in the body. The vapour causes veins and arteries to dilate, blood pressure is reduced and the heart rate accelerates. Thus results a brief but intense rush, flushed face and neck. Effects fade after two to five minutes, often leaving the user with a headache, feeling faint or sick.
Other scene names are: thrust, rock hard, hix, TNT, liquid gold.
Poppers are often taken to enhance sexual activity. It was first used in the gay community. However, it is now more widespread, especially by young people.
While the inhalation of nitrites causes usually only headache as adverse effect, it came with oral admission to heavy intoxications, partly as fatal cases.