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Do Poppers Show Up In A Drug Test?

The word "poppers" is the common name for a liquid drugs that use alkyl nitrites as its active ingredient. The base is likely to be an isobutyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, amyl nitrite, or butyl nitrite – all from the alkyl nitrite class of drugs. You might also hear poppers referred to by one of the other well-known names like Rock, Hard, Thrust, TNT, Ram, Liquid Gold or Amyls. People mainly use poppers to intensify their sexual pleasure and also to get an instant rush, high and sense of euphoria.

  1. How do they work?
  2. Pharmacokinetics
  3. Side effects and dangers
  4. How long do poppers stay in your system?
  5. Detection time of poppers
  6. Are they legal?
  7. Will poppers show up in a regular drug test?

poppers on drug test

How do they work?

Alkyl nitrites do two things to your body: first, the drug releases nitric acid into your system, and second, it causes your blood vessels to dilate. Together, these causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and the relaxing of the anal sphincter muscles. You'll have an intense head-rush for a few minutes, your skin will be more sensitive to the touch, and you'll have a general sense of euphoria.


Poppers are a liquid drugs that are administered by sniffing the vapors. The inhaled substance enters the lungs and is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream and transported through your body. The effects start in under one minute after absorption and last between 2 and 5 minutes.

Side effects and dangers

The side effects of the drug can be severe and even fatal. Inhaling poppers can cause abnormal heart rhythms, which leads to "sudden sniffing death" syndrome in severe cases. Poppers are also associated with such complications as severe eye and brain damage. Allergic and respiratory reactions, crusty skin lesions, dizziness, low blood pressure, and headaches are just some of the other known side effects.

It is necessary to be very careful when dealing with poppers. This liquid is not only highly flammable, but may also cause a severe chemical burns if it touches your skin, so you should wash it off as quickly as possible.

How long do poppers stay in your system?

How long the drug stays in your system depends on the type of alkyl nitrite used and how much you inhale. Half-life of each type is different. There aren't many studies available on the subject, but experts believe that the remnants of alkyl nitrites may stay in the system somewhere between 1 to 2 hours post-administration.

The period that poppers will stay in your system differs from person to person. Your weight, age, personal metabolism and how often you use poppers all affect the rate at which your body eliminates the drug from your system.

Detection time of poppers

Decomposition products of the alkyl nitrites are detectable in blood for a few hours – up to 1 day maximum. In urine poppers may show up much longer – for up to 72 hours. The exact detection period depends on type of alkyl nitrite and time it stays in your system.

Amyl nitrite poppers are illegal in the United States. As from 1969, it has been illegal to sell, buy, use or possess any form of amyl nitrite without a prescription. This FDA decision was strengthened in 1988 when first the sale of butyl nitrites was banned and later Congress had outlawed all alkyl nitrites.

Since then, people have discovered that cyclohexyl nitrite closely mimics the effects of amyl butyl nitrite. Unlike the last one, cyclohexyl nitrite is legal and easy to obtain in the United States. That's why many poppers now use cyclohexyl nitrite as their primary active ingredient.

Regardless of which nitrite poppers use, you have to remember that all nitrites have dangerous side effects. The legal status is not an indication of the substance's inherent dangers.

Will poppers show up in a regular drug test?

Poppers won't show up in a drug test. Regular drug tests look for traces of marijuana, opioids, cocaine, or amphetamines – not amyl nitrites.

Detection of chemical inhalants such as amyl nitrites is difficult because their half-life is very short. Usually, they get out of your system in minutes without forming metabolites.

There is one test created by Japanese scientists in 2003, that can detect alkyl nitrites by testing for the drug's decomposition products - isoamyl, n-butyl alcohol, and isobutyl alcohol. It uses capillary gas chromatography with cryogenic oven trapping method on urine and blood samples, which makes it too impractical and expensive for a standard drug test. While the process exists, it is only used it in specific cases where it is essential to test for inhalant use.

At this moment there is no practical, everyday way to test for the use of poppers in any current standard drug test.