Neurological problems with poppers; looking for help and a warning for others.
Well, I fucked up and I'm scared. I'm a 30 year old male and I had used poppers sporadically for nearly 10 years without issue. But, about a year ago I became depressed and starting using heavily. I would say at my peak I was sniffing for an hour a day, usually split up into two or three sessions. Sometimes masturbating, sometimes just listening to music or daydreaming. I would take a sniff maybe every 30 seconds to a minute. I would never use an apparatus or anything; just hold the bottle up to a nostril and inhale deeply. I would breathe normally between sniffs. I was buying two bottles a week, but would only use a bottle for about two or three days before I thought they weren't having the same effect and throw them away. I was doing this for about 3 to 5 days a week for around three months. I would always be sure to buy isobutyl, usually RUSH, but I guess you never really know what's inside. Even at the time, I noticed problems. My left arm would start to tingle during a session, a bit like pins and needles when you sit on a limb but not as painful. My face would become pale by the end of sessions. At time I convinced myself it wasn't that bad. But now I ask how I could have been so stupid.
The good news is that I quit about 5 months ago. Since then and up until three weeks ago I only had minor problems that weren't much more than annoyances. Mostly just muscle twitching in my left hand. But about three weeks ago something happened. I started getting headaches and brief moments of dizziness. I ended up getting blood tests and a brain MRI which were clear. The headaches and dizziness have subsided but since that episode my neurological problems are worse. More muscle twitching. Small hand movements like double clicking a mouse when i meant to single click. Slight hand tremors from time to time, especially when holding my phone. A bit of difficulty typing and using a touch-pad. I actually saw a neurologist before it got worse and told him everything. He said he didn't think I did any permanent damage. But now, I am thinking I will go back.
I am not sure if the poppers themselves were the problem or the lack of oxygen by doing them so much. I guess it doesn't matter now. I have begun taking high dosages of fish oil and vitamin D. I am also taking lithium orotate; a low dose form of lithium available over the counter. These have all been (somewhat) shown to stimulate nerve growth and help with brain injury. As a side note,I took a Vyvanse (like Adderall) a few days ago and it made the tremors much worse. So, no more Vyvanse. Vynanse works on dopamine which is involved with Parkinson's so perhaps there is some connection there?
A few more questions:
Does anyone know how nuerological problems from inhalants manifest? Would it be normal to stop like I did and then get worse months later?
Any recommendations? I am trying to eat healthy and exercise along with the fish oil, vitamin D, and lithium I mentioned earlier. I am just really scared at the moment. I thought I was getting better if anything until that episode a few weeks ago. I still have no idea what it was; anxiety, an infection, or something else. I can't believe what I did to myself. I have high anxiety which could contribute to these problems but I am sure the poppers triggered all of this. Popper fans out there, be very careful. Thank you for reading my story.
30 year old male here, 230lbs. About a year ago I began abusing an inhalant called "poppers" while I was depressed. Poppers were originally amyl nitrite but most sold now are now isobutyl nitrite. They are sold in small glass bottles at sex shops. I had used them sporadically before, but only last year did I begin heavily using them. I would say I was sniffing them at least a half hour a day (sometimes split up) maybe five days a week. Each "sniff" only lasts maybe a minute or less. So over the course of the hour I could have been sniffing 50 times or so with regular breathing in between sniffs. About six months ago I began having some small neurological problems. I had some myoclonic jerks, and some hand muscle twitching and muscle tensing. I stopped the poppers and actually went to a neurologist and explained everything to him. He did a few physical tests and told me he did not think I did any long term damage, nor did he think I had any severe neurological issues like ALS. I believe his official diagnosis was benign fasciculation syndrome and myoclonic jerks. He said I shouldn't be too worried. I stopped the poppers at that point but the twitching continued for the last six months. I was also on Prozac and Vyvanse at the time, so it could have been related to that as well. It was never too bothersome up until about three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago I began getting headaches, slight instances of dizziness, and some increased twitching. I had a brain MRI which came back clear. The headaches and dizziness seem to have subsided but what I am left with are very subtle hand tremors and twitching. I can't see my hand tremor, it just feels like it is shaking a bit. It only last a few seconds at a time. Nothing too scary, just an annoyance at this point. Sometimes it feels like the muscles in my left hand are pulsing. Sometimes the fingers twitch a tiny bit; I have double clicked a mouse when I only meant to single click. It seems to be worse on my left side.
One weird complication is Vyvanse. I started taking it again a few days ago and it made the tremors much worse. I have now stopped taking it. I read that Parkinson's is dependent on the dopamine system which is what Vyvanse affects as well. I have very high anxiety and now am in constant fear that the poppers have given me a severe nuerological disorder or nerve damage. I am thinking about going back to the nuerologist but I think he will say my symptoms are still to little to be concerned about. Any opinion would be most appreciated. I know this is a very weird case but I really can't stop worrying now.
Your story was my story about 5 years ago. My diagnosis was Parkinson's. Since then I've learned the oriental practice of Qigong which has helped with quite a few of the symptoms.
Been a heavy popper user for over 12 years. I probably used it once a day to orgasm and i could not orgasm without it. I used different brands from rush to Amsterdam etc. Developed severe ringing in the ears so i stopped. Strangely and thankfully my eyesight was not damaged by poppers.
My life is now a living nightmare i could not cope with this loud ringing in my head. Its like being tortured 24/7. I even have suicide thoughts so the torture will stop. Nothing makes it better and everything makes it worse. I cant eat carbs, sugar, msg, caffeine, anything good really Because it makes the ringing worse. I haven't been working for more than a year because my condition is mentally taxing. Even typing this is really an effort because of the ringing, its so distracting. I have a life now with no relaxation and no peace at all which is the essence of life which we all want.
Im trying the antioxidant route which is NAC and astaxanthin. I hope this may be reversible or at least there is something to make the volume lower. I just dont know what to do 🙁
@tigerlook - Thanks for sharing your story. I believe you. According to the gay scene 'poppers can't do anything of the stuff you say it has done to you'. Supposedly sniffing contents from a bottle is different when you use it for gay sex mean's that it's not classified as a solvent and that these manufacturers are honest and use quality chemicals. The warnings of solvent abuse seems to not be applicable to amyl / poppers even though its not the same product that was used previously in a medical environment. Give yourself some purpose and let people know about this site and tell people about the dangers of poppers and what has happened to you. It's very sad that there is not enough medical information or warnings from gay health organisations regarding poppers but I'm hoping to be able to show organisations that there are plenty of people that have issues after using poppers. I've heard from others that there posts also get removed after warning people about poppers. I can only ask that you stay active in the community and respond to other people and keep us updated. I'm happy if you want to share your email as well and I'm happy to support you off the site as well.
I was 17 and I’ve watched a lot of porn on xtube. I’ve seen many guys inhaling some strange stuff from a small bottle in their videos, right before they take the biggest hump on a toy. One comment was “I love to hear how you sniff the poppers”, so I finally found out what they were doing.
It was 2012, when reddit was only used by nerds, before there was such a “poppers boom” outside of the gay community. Back then, poppers were still a small niche, mostly used by gay men for anal sex or taking big toys and absolutely unknown in the heteronormative, straight world.
I ordered some poppers online. I didn’t know any gay people doing poppers in the small town I grew up. So I didn’t know anybody in real life who knew what kind of stuff this is. Or what I was going to do here. One of my most favourite sex shops from Berlin sold poppers masks as well, so I thought it must be kinda normal or okay to simply sniff a chemical from a mask.
I read the risks and side effects online. I read that poppers are one of the safest drugs there are. They would be much safer than alcohol in comparison. Common side effects would include headaches and if you drink them you’d get methemoglobinemia, a serious emergency condition. They wouldn’t be physically addictive and the psychological addiction would just be disinterest in sex without poppers.
So I thought: “Doesn’t sound too dangerous. Let’s try”.
Shortly after I started huffing poppers for the first time back in 2012, I noticed severe health issues. I had chronic headaches, so strong I wasn’t able to study at all. As a high school student who had their last exams a few months later, this was an issue.
I also had a very loud ear ringing, or also called tinnitus, which I didn’t link to poppers usage until 2021 when I read a story from another guy who had this right after they started huffing poppers. On my left ear it is a dark humming, on my right ear a high pitched beeping. I wasn’t able to sleep, I’ve been to many doctors, to a neurologist and even did an MRI in 2013. The MRI didn’t show any tumours or other diseases.
Not a single doctor was able to help me.
My high school degree was fucked, because I wasn’t able to concentrate.
My tinnitus is unchanged, even after 9 years.
You might wonder: “Yes but how much did you sniff?”. I did sniff a lot of poppers, yes. I sniffed using a poppers mask and cotton pads. I sniffed too much, of course. I thought it doesn’t do much harm and poppers masks are sold in sex shops, so why not use them?
But I didn’t sniff that much, honestly. Maybe one 9ml bottle per month.
My life sucked suddenly, I lacked motivation, I was suicidal due to the ear ringing especially, I had fatigue, however I thought it might be the lack of vitamin B12. This indeed can cause such issues. Poppers destroy your red blood cells and to produce them your body needs iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. That’s why you should really supplement all of these three if you sniff poppers. Make a blood test with these things if in doubt.
I started university (in my country you can study a few majors with a bad high school degree). I usually slept during class, as I still lacked motivation and had strong fatigue. I was still huffing poppers, because I didn’t link my health issues to them. I didn’t manage to learn enough though, I postponed some exams to the next semesters which I failed three times in the seventh semester finally and by this I dropped from university.
Poppers made me dumb and unable to concentrate. I didn’t pass exams anymore. I dropped from university in 2016.
I threw everything from the old house full of mould I was living in 2016 away (mattresses, furniture, personal stuff) as this stuff gave me trouble breathing. I realised in 2020 that it was simply a reaction to mould and it’s somewhat normal to get these breathing issues from mould.
Poppers made me so wasted. I lived in an empty house full of mould (whole walls were mouldy!) watching poppers hypnos and riding horse dildos
I stopped poppers in 2016 right after I had an overdose. My leg muscles became so weak I wasn’t able to hold my body anymore. I fell on the floor with my shoulders and it’s a big surprise I’m still alive. Had I fell on the radiator 10cm away from my head, I would have bled to death in my single apartment.
I told myself: This was it. I start a new life as long as I’m still able to.
I did. I threw all my poppers away.
I was 21 and I changed everything in my life. I moved to my best friends’ flat and they supported me a lot and I still can’t put into words how thankful I am for their support. I was looking for new universities or colleges to start studying again, I also thought about an apprenticeship as universities seemed to be too complicated.
I tried studying again, but wasn’t able to. I didn’t understand simple stuff, wasn’t able to concentrate and my memorising skills sucked ass.
With 22, I finally found a partner for the first time in my life and moved to their town. We had a cute two room flat and had an amazing life, poppers-free. I lost a lot of weight during my addiction, she helped me gaining weight and cooked for me.
My depressions / withdrawals / anxiety were so strong, I didn’t do groceries, didn’t cook and didn’t even quickly made a toast or sandwich. My BMI was 16.
Years later, in 2018 I found a harm-reduction subreddit called PopperMakers. If you do poppers, you should make your own as store or online bought stuff is so, so bad. It’s bad enough you can’t trust the manufacturers about which alkyl nitrite actually is in the bottle (you honestly don't know if it's pentyl, amyl, isobutyl or propyl). What’s even worse though, is that they even fuck up the molar ratios, so the alcohol is listed on the ingredients as well (check your labels). An optimal molar ratio for a poppers synthesis ranges from 1:1.05:1.07 to 1:1.2:1.2 (alcohol, nitrite, acid). Apparently the big manufacturers don’t even understand that you need more nitrite and acid to satisfy the whole alcohol with the nitrite.
The poppers you can buy tend to give you nasty side effects like annoying headaches or a weird feeling in your throat. It’s usually because the alkyl nitrite has degraded and broke down to alkyl nitrates, NOx and other bullshit you don’t want to sniff. That’s why you should never inhale just after opening the bottle. Especially not if you heard a hissing sound when opening it.
I started making my own poppers, professionally, with expensive equipment. It was not until 2021 that I realised my neurological issues were caused by poppers by googling for “poppers muscle twitching” and finding out that I was not the only person with these issues. I was also able to link many issues directly to poppers. The ear-ringing / tinnitus I had in 2013, shortly after sniffing poppers, I didn’t link it to poppers until now. I also looked up my diary and read how I even wrote about my concentration issues in 2013 and the assumption that poppers caused them. I also found out I had the tremors already back then, because I talked with my sister about it. We assumed it would’ve been just the lack of vitamin B12 (that poppers caused in the first place). However, meanwhile I understood it’s not about the vitamins.
It’s 2021, I’m 26 and still wrecked, not even able to work half time.
I still suffer from a loud, annoying tinnitus, muscle twitching, I barely have any motivation, I mostly lie around and see days passing, still fatigue, still wasted every day.
I would have never done poppers had I known they can cause such severe neurological problems.
I didn't do any hard drugs, I smoked pot here and there and drank a bit of alcohol at parties, but I never had any other drug addictions.