Poppers are not addictive or bad for mental health, new study finds

A recent study of 800 gay and bisexual men in Australia has found that there is little evidence to suggest poppers are in any way addictive or detrimental to mental health.

The research by the University of Technology in Sydney found that the drug, which is commonly used by gay and bisexual men to relax sphincter muscles during sex, does not show “typical dependency characteristics, including health, social, legal and financial problems, and no correlation between popper use and mental health or psychological stress.”

Researchers studied men between the ages of 18 and 35 and found no sign of risky consumption habits or other psychosocial problems after using the drug.

Poppers are a type of alkyl nitrates which are usually inhaled through the nose, and they are also used recreationally as a party drug. The study came after a decision by the Australian government not to outlaw alkyl nitrates but to make them available over the counter in pharmacies for the estimated 100,000 users in Australia.

Dr. Daniel Demant, public health researcher at the University of Technology Sydney, told Medical Xpress: “What we see with this research is that poppers are a very commonly used drug in the LGBT community, both recently and over their lifetime.

“Most of the users are already oppressed or marginalised based on their social identity as gay or bisexual men. This creates a question as to whether there would have been a discriminatory element in banning a substance with such a low risk profile.

“Banning a substance that is used by so many people would create a new class of criminals, basically overnight.”

Poppers should only be used in moderation

Poppers were nearly banned in the UK in 2016, before the government made a last-minute U-turn following expert advice.

Although poppers may not be addictive, they are not without health risks and should be used sparingly.

Poppers increase blood pressure which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. If inhaled excessively, the chances of a drop in blood pressure and fainting are higher, along with vomiting and struggling to breathe. Studies have also indicated that they could cause other lasting damage to your eyesight, sexual performance and immune system.