Merck Manual

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Volatile Nitrites

Volatile Nitrites

Nitrites (amyl , butyl, or isobutyl nitrite) are sold with street names such as Poppers, Locker Room, and Rush.

These drugs briefly lower blood pressure, produce dizziness, and cause flushing, followed by a rapid heartbeat. These effects combined may produce a sense of excitement and euphoria. People also use these drugs because they believe that they enhance sexual pleasure. When used with sildenafil (used to treat erectile dysfunction), these nitrite drugs may greatly lower blood pressure, which can cause fainting, heart attack, or stroke. Nitrites can also cause methemoglobinemia, which is a blood disorder that interferes with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.

Nitrous oxide: This gas (laughing gas) is used as an anesthetic. It is also used as a propellant in cans and dispensers of whipped cream. Nitrous oxide is sometimes abused because it produces a sense of euphoria and a pleasant dreamlike state. Prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to numbness and weakness in the legs and arms, which can be permanent. Nitrous oxide filled balloons are illicitly sold and used at rock concerts and athletic events.