History of Amyl Nitrite 

First synthesized in 1844 by French chemist Antoine Jerome Balard, amyl nitrite was introduced to medicine as an effective treatment for chest pain. The substance originally came in a round, pearl form and the drug would be administered by crushing the pearl and inhaling its vapor. Due to this method of administration, amyl nitrite soon adopted the nickname “poppers”. From 1850-1960, poppers were strictly used medically until the mid-1960s when recreational use of the drug began. The drug was listed as a prescription-required drug in 1969 due to the sharp increase in recreational use but, by 1970, poppers spread throughout the disco scene and LGBTQ community and quickly became the drug of choice. In 1988, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was passed and amyl nitrite was officially classified as illegal. Today, amyl nitrite isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, with the National Center for Biotechnology Information reporting only 3.3% of the population having used the drug between 2015-2017. Despite its drop in popularity, poppers still pose a real risk due to their dangerous side effects. 

Amyl Nitrite Addiction Treatment Center

The Amyl Nitrite High

Amyl nitrite is inhaled. The substance produces an instant high which lasts 2-5 minutes in which the user experiences: 



Involuntary muscle relaxation

Extreme dizziness 

Increased heart rate 

Blurred vision

Slowed breathing 

Lowered inhibitions 




Side Effects of Amyl Nitrite Abuse 

Long-term amyl nitrite abuse can cause lasting effects and irreversible damage. Such side effects include:

Methaemoglobinaemia (blood disorder)

Skin rash

Low blood pressure 



Heart attack 


Amyl Nitrite Use in the United States 

Although the use of poppers is not as prominent as it once was, it is still socially present, mainly within the LGBTQ community. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, sexual minorities are at greater risk for substance abuse compared with the sexual majority population that identifies as being heterosexual. The graph below displays this discrepancy:

Amyl Nitrite Addiction Treatment Center

Amyl Nitrite Addiction Treatment

Poppers are addictive and life-threatening when abused; therefore, it is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists utilize a 12-step program and practice holistic rehabilitation. 

Services at the center include:

Partial Hospitalization Program – At Asheville Recovery Center we offer a partial hospitalization program for clients who need post-residential treatment as well as for clients who need primary treatment but are unable to enroll in inpatient programs. Our PHP track offers a variety of therapeutic services and benefits to individuals in early recovery from substance addiction. Our day program is full-time, offering all of the clinical hours provided in residential treatment (from 9 am to 5 pm) with the benefit of allowing clients to return home to a structured sober living environment at night. This gives individuals the opportunity to build a community of peers and practice life skills, such as cooking, cleaning, and self-care, while still participating in immersive and intensive clinical addiction and trauma treatment.


Outpatient Rehabilitation – During intensive outpatient treatment, clients live at home or in a sober living residence which can help keep them accountable for their recovery commitment. Our staff coordinates with local, reputable sober living homes to ensure that our clients are living in a safe place and that their needs are being met, even when they are not at clinical sessions. During this time, clients are also encouraged to become involved in local twelve-step fellowships, to find sponsors, and to begin working the steps of recovery through participation in these groups. IOP is a place where clients can process their experiences in twelve-step fellowships and support one another in those individual journeys.


Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with amyl nitrite abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)383-0784 and speak with an addiction expert today.


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