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Harm Reduction & Overdose Prevention: Poppers & Whippits

Poppers are a slang for chemicals called “alkyl nitrates” or “nitrates.”

Poppers are common in Queer communities and especially in Queer clubs. They are sold in little bottles and advertised as “video head cleaners” or “room deodorizers.”

What poppers feel like

  • You generally feel the effects in a few seconds after inhaling for one to four minutes.
  • They relax muscle tissue and cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can feel like a “rush.” You also might feel euphoria, dizziness, or headache.
  • Many people use poppers to relax the muscles in the anus, front hole, or vagina to make sex feel better.


  • Poppers are usually inhaled but holding one nostril and gently breathing in the air from the bottle.

Preventing harm from poppers

  • Switch nostrils between each inhalation
  • Do not swallow the liquid in the bottle. If this happens, call 911 or Poison Control.
  • Keep away from cigarettes, candles, and lighters to prevent fires.
  • Try not to use with other stimulants like meth or cocaine, since this can cause overheating or very high blood pressure.
  • Using poppers with Viagra is very dangerous and can cause a stroke.


Whippits is a slang term for steel cartridges filled with nitrous oxide (N₂O). Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas that produces a short-lived high.

Preventing harm from whippits

  • Use a balloon instead of inhaling directly from a cracker (to avoid freezing gas on the mouth, throat, and lungs).
  • Doing several whippits in a row, without breathing, can be very dangerous. Basically, doing this can cause “hypoxia”, which is when your body doesn’t have enough oxygen. You won’t feel like you’re suffocating, but you could experience permanent damage to your brain and your body. Take breaks and breathe full breaths of air between whippits!
  • Nitrous can lead to vitamin b12 deficiency which can be really scary! A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerves. Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly and conditions such as peripheral neuropathy occur. Even B12 deficiency that is relatively mild may affect the nervous system and the proper functioning of the brain. Monitor your levels and / or take external supplements.
  • Risk of falling down when doing nitrous is real! Sit or lie down when doing whippits.