Why Poppers are Banned?

Poppers are a popular recreational drug which are bought in the form of a solvent which the user inhales. They are often used as a party drug in social groups or romantic settings by couples or groups. They have frequently been associated with the gay scene in Europe and America because they have the effect of relaxing the muscles, which can help with certain types of sex, particularly anal sex. They are used more widely by people of all sexualities in more recent times for the relaxing and euphoric effects they produce.

Poppers is a common name for a solvent which is chemically known as Amyl Nitrite or Alkyl Nitrite. Historically used to treat heart conditions such as Angina, poppers are named after the small glass containers that they used to be packaged in so that patients could ‘pop' the top off and inhale the contents. The drug is a vasodilator which means it opens up blood vessels, increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure. This can produce a feeling of warmth, giddiness and euphoria. It can also increase enjoyment of sex due to the increased sensation in the anus or vagina. Some users will combine them with another longer lasting recreational drug for a longer lasting high. They can also have some negative side effects which include sinusitis, fainting (usually because of low blood pressure), headaches, increased intraocular pressure and skin lesions around the nose or mouth in cases of heavy use.

Poppers are often easily purchased but sold under names such as room deodorizer or as a leather cleaner. Sex shops may sell them as a sex enhancer to their customers. These sales are often not regulated which can make it difficult for buyers to seek expert advice about the product and its use.

Extreme side effects are not common but they are possible and a few high profile cases have contributed to a negative public view of poppers and a cautious legal approach from some governments. Harmful effects become even more likely if the drug is swallowed or the user aspirates and draws the liquid into their lungs. In either case the likelihood of serious harm or death becomes unacceptably high. There is also the fact that poppers are traditionally associated with homosexual sex, which has been stigmatised in many societies and therefore that alongside the health risks, authorities have looked at the drug in a harsher light than they might otherwise.

Poppers occupy a murky legal position in Australia and the United Kingdom. It is illegal to sell them as an inhalant however the chemicals themselves are not illegal to sell. In effect this means that poppers are sold but with prominent warnings that they are not for inhalation or consumption and under ambiguous names. Similar to Poppers UK, in the United States of America, they are illegal although the chemicals are available for commercial purposes whereas in Japan they are even more tightly controlled. In France and Germany it is illegal to sell the traditional formula of poppers but a type of reformulated poppers based on isopropyl nitrite is available, although it is also prohibited to sell it for human consumption.

Poppers are, for many users, an enjoyable recreational drug for the euphoric effect or to enhance sex but should be approached with caution and an awareness of local laws as with any recreational drug.

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