Menu Close

Poppers and Other Drugs in the Gay Community

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community do not use drugs. However, some members of the LGBT community use some specific drugs such as poppers, ecstasy, and methamphetamine regularly. Here is a breakdown of some of these drugs as well as the dangers involved.

The Popularity of Poppers

Poppers are tiny canisters that contain amyl nitrite, a substance that’s known for producing euphoria and an enhanced feeling of sexual pleasure. Since the 1980s, amyl nitrite has been restricted to medical uses in the United States and Europe, but a number of related alkyl nitrites continue to be available in legal or semi-legal form.[1]

Happy unhibited woman stretching arms outdoorsWhile under the influence of poppers, people feel uninhibited and free to act upon almost any impulse. When they do so, the experience can be tremendously rewarding. For this reason, poppers can be intensely addicting, as the physical pleasure and chemical euphoria might be hard for the brain to ignore.

According to a recent article, poppers were once quite popular among gay men at nightclubs or other openly gay venues. The author of this piece suggests that poppers aren’t so popular now. The drug is not used as openly but still remains a staple of private gay life. The article even states that many people have these products stashed away in their freezers and nightstands.[2]

Other Substances of Abuse

While poppers might be declining in popularity, other drugs are surging in popularity. Sadly, these other drugs may even surpass the use of poppers in time.

Researchers documented abuse of a large variety of drugs among men who attended gay-themed parties, including:

  • Ecstasy, used by 80 percent of participants
  • Ketamine, used by 66 percent of participants
  • Crystal methamphetamine, used by 43 percent of participants
  • GHB, used by 29 percent of participants[3]

Dangers of Drug Abuse

While drug abuse of any kind is dangerous, the use of drugs in party environment can lead to very harmful behaviors. Remember, many of these substances lower inhibitions.It is possible that individuals may abandon forms of sexual protection. In some cases, users may even share needles. These risky behaviors can lead to blood-borne diseases like AIDS or hepatitis B or C, and that might lead to serious health problems or even death.

In addition, addictions can make many parts of life difficult. People who have addictions are under constant psychological or physical pressure to buy or use drugs, and they might find it difficult to control how much of any drug they take once they start.

Thankfully, treatment programs such as ours at Michael’s House can be a big help. Our LGBT track provides help that is specifically tailored for members of the LGBT community. We’d like to tell you more about how our program works and how you can sign up. Please call to find out more.


[1]Psychology Today. Danger to Gay Men Huffing Poppers. Scharff, Constance. Published on February 12th, 2015.

[2] Poppers Are Dead, Long Live Poppers. Archer, Jesse. Published on January 15th, 2013.

[3] Drug Use and Sexual Risk Behavior Among Gay and Bisexual Men Who Attend Circuit Parties: A Venue-Based Comparison. Colfax, Grant. Published on December 1st, 2001.