There is a lot of misinformation around the globe and it is definitely commonplace in the world of illegal or banned substances. This sort of ignorance has been propagated by the technology of the Internet where anyone with a keyboard and a pension for attention can put in their authoritative opinion in the form of factual information.
One particular topic where this seems to be prevalent is the history and health factors of poppers. Poppers is actually none other than amyl nitrite, or a variant there of, such as isobutyl nitrite and butyl nitrite, which is used in the treatment of angina.
Isobutyl and butyl nitrites were created due to a ban on the original atomic structure of amyl nitrate without a prescription. Some will go as far as to declare it an aphrodisiac without mentioning that it actually reacts like a lot of inhibitors and depends on the mood of the subject using the substance; or they mention ill effects of inhalation in the use of poppers with studies showing no threat to persons or society when compared to actual illicit drugs. The only way for you to know for sure is to dig deeper with your own research, but this short article can help guide the beginning path.
Where to Begin?
At the beginning of course! The history of poppers is often as mired in conflict and misdirection as is the actual legality of the complicated marketing system in which the chemicals are distributed. Nitrites must be sold as solvents due to redundant policies which, quite frankly, are wasted words that have never served any true purpose of prohibition other than to push users underground and force them to purchase from shady dealers.
Amyl nitrite was first synthesized in 1844 and later started being used by a Scottish physician by the name of Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton for medical purposes in the treatment of angina. The reason amyl nitrite is effective in this treatment is because of its ability to loosen the soft muscles in the body providing a relaxing effect that allows for ease in the dealings with the medical condition.
It is often thought that the recreational use of poppers began in the 70’s or 80’s in the gay disco club, but the truth is that amyl nitrite has been used for sexual enhancement since the 1950’s when it started its move in pop culture from England to the US.
Amyl nitrate was used only for pharmaceutical use until 1960 when it was made available for over the counter use which led to an increase in the use of it for supposed sexual enhancement. By the time it started getting rolling in the night party scene, the FDA decided to ban over the counter sales once again in 1969 which led to the beginning of changing the atomic structure which then led to such compounds for poppers as isobutyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and, most recently, in 2002 cyclohexyl nitrite.
That is The Short. What About the Rise in Pop Culture?
Some think the use of it as a supposed aphrodisiac started in the United States in the 70’s, but the reality is that amyl nitrite, as a sexual enhancer, has been used since it began its rise in the British show industry of the 1950’s, where it was believed to strengthen orgasm.
From there it made its way to some of the thriving gay communities in the bigger cities of the United States in the 60’s spurred by the over the counter ban release.
Recreational use began its rise into the mainstream of popular culture, leading to the FDA putting the aforementioned ban on over the counter sales of amyl nitrite again in 1969. They allegedly cited health concerns due to improper and unrestricted use.
However, the truth is that it was a result from pressure by manufacturers who were concerned about losing profits due to “negative associations” between gay users and their brand image.
This situation resulted in the creation of butyl nitrite in the 70’s and later to isobutyl nitrite and other variants of the amyl nitrate atomic structure, which are all considered less pure and less regulated than the original amyl nitrate.
These less pure compounds made their way into the poppers bottles and burst end onto the gay disco scene and other getaways at the time. They continued to hold steady and strong well into the gay culture of the 80’s.
In 1988, the FDA had decided that the sale of isobutyl and butyl nitrite for inhalant purposes was to be outlawed, but not the sale of the compounds for commercial use. What this means is that if anyone is telling you recreational poppers are legal to buy is not telling the truth. This has not been the case since 1988, when it was decided that the compounds could only be used and marketed for commercial use such as head cleaners or solvent cleaners.
Poppers for recreational consumption are illegal. The law on poppers is truly as clear cut as it gets even though this law is thought of as being passed out of homophobia or biased opinions more than actually health concerns for public safety. As stated before, there is little to no evidence of ill-gotten effects on the health of long-term users who only inhale.
So What Gives?
A lot of people, like with most substances that become banned without proper investigation into the medical purposes or effects, simply are unaware of the actual science behind said substance and adopt more of a personal feeling on how a culture may use it or what subculture is at an advantage with its use.
This sort of ignorance allows the passing of biased legislation which often gets repealed after well documented studies. As with any lie, the layers of law will collapse under the pressure of truth or for strengthened renewal of suspicions, but at the hands of facts instead of beliefs or brief encounters.
When legislation gets passed, then studies are often curtailed and people are left scrambling to make truth of what might as well be censored material, which can make uncovering any truth, difficult.
With that being said it should be understood and summed up that no adverse effects of proper use of poppers has been found. Poppers are illegal for purchase but isobutyl nitrite and butyl nitrite can still be purchased as commercial products.
They have been around and in social use longer than thought and with a more varying user group than anyone may have known, including people from every social standing and sexual background. For now, poppers along with its varied nitrite compounds, is a marred subject with hazy information at best. However, with a budding section of groups trying to reach out and inform the population at large of the science behind the substance, hopefully this gross misunderstanding will be corrected.