Rave Culture and Amyl Nitrite Poppers

A drug that was initially synthesized to alleviate chest pain in the 1800s may have been a major player in the disco and rave culture that developed at the end of the 20th century.

And, it still exists today.

Amyl Nitrite, also known as Poppers, was first synthesized in 1844 and was later used by physicians to treat angina—chest pain caused by coronary artery disease. The drug is a vasodilator, which means that it improves blood flow and mitigates pain caused by constricted or blocked arteries.

By the late 1970s, amyl nitrite poppers emerged as a popular party drug, particularly in the LGBTQ community in the disco and rave scene. It was originally packaged in small, fragile glass capsules that were broken, or popped, and inhaled, earning the drug its nickname. Though it began as a “new drug craze” in the LGBTQ community, it quickly spread to a wide variety of users.

Typically, the drug’s effects are mild and, though it has been banned in other western countries (most recently in the UK), amyl nitrate poppers are still legal in the United States. But do they pose any threat or are they as harmless as their legality would suggest?

What is Amyl Nitrite?

Amyl nitrate is a class of drugs called alkyl nitrites. It’s considered a volatile liquid, because it is gaseous at room temperature. This makes them distinct from other drugs that are inhaled like marijuana, crack-cocaine, and meth, which require heat to produce gas. They are sometimes sold as room fresheners because the chemical compound has a clear, fruity fragrance. This also provides a cover for shops and clubs that sell them for use as party drugs—they can sell poppers as air fresheners by their labels.

Effects of Amyl Nitrite Poppers

The effects of a typical dose of amyl nitrite are generally mild and may elevate mood, especially in social atmospheres. In a study examining the top 20 recreational drugs, poppers were ranked 20th in terms of physical harm and 18th in the risk of forming a dependence on the substance. The study indicates that it is at the bottom of the list when it comes to concerning drugs on the streets. However, in some circumstances, they can still produce negative side effects.

Some users report excessive laughter and physical euphoria after taking amyl nitrite poppers. However, some pervasive effects occur in many users including:

  • Disinhibition, or a loss of restraint in decision making that can lead to reckless or bold choices.
  • Headrush, headache
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Increased libido

The expansion of blood vessels throughout the body can cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, which can be a risk for anyone predisposed to hypotension, in turn causing dizziness, fainting, or other complications.

Sexual Effects of Amyl Nitrite Poppers

The popularity of amyl nitrite poppers in the 70s and 80s came to be called a “craze” among same-sex male partners in the rave scene. The drug increases the libido and lowers inhibitions, which acts as a social lubricant in party settings. However, as a vasodilator, it also relaxes smooth muscles like the sphincter, which facilitates anal intercourse.

In the late 20th century, researchers believed that poppers may have been contributing to the perpetuation of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Studies are able to find a correlation between an increase in risky sexual behavior and the use of popular club drugs. In the case of amyl nitrite poppers, the combination of increasing libido and lowering inhibitions leads can result in risk-behavior like unprotected sex with strangers.

However, correlation does not equal causation. The direct relationship between club drugs and the spread of HIV continues to elude scientific studies. Plus, it could be that people engaging in the club lifestyle are already more likely to engage sexual behaviors that go with club culture.

Toxicity Risk of Amyl Nitrite Poppers

When the vapor is inhaled at a proper dose, amyl nitrite poses a very low toxicity risk and is considered one of the least harmful recreational drugs. However, adverse effects are more dangerous at high doses. Poppers are considered very dangerous when ingested instead of inhaled. When swallowed, amyl nitrite can lead to unconsciousness, coma, and death. Aspiration of liquid amyl nitrite can also lead to pneumonia.

Poppers can also be dangerous when taken with other vasodilators like sildenafil (Viagra). This poses a larger risk in social situations where poppers are used in sexual encounters. Users may use both without knowing the potential for fainting, stroke, and heart attack.

Dangerous Mistaken Identity

Popper users may encounter other substances that are similar to amyl nitrite with more harmful effects. Huffing is a drug practice that is also administered by inhaling but can be dangerous at any dosage. Inhalants can come in the form of nitrous oxide, solvents, gases, and propellants. The wide variety of inhalants can make huffing unpredictable and dangerous. Many substances are toxic at any dose.

One study points out the risk this poses to popper users who may mistake other inhalants for amyl nitrite. Not only is it possible that the user’s mistake one for the other, but it’s also possible that clinicians may have trouble telling the difference.

Party Drug Culture

Though amyl nitrite poppers saw an explosion of popularity in the US in the 70s and 80s, its prevalence has declined in favor of other options. Even despite popper’s legality, other substances like MDMA (also known as Molly or ecstasy) have taken over the rave scene. Since the 70s and 80s, other synthetic designer drugs have made their way into circulation at parties as well.

The wide variety of illicit substances that inundate the party culture make engaging with party drugs more of a gamble. Plus, dealers and black market manufacturers may also intentionally mislabel a substance to sell it as a more popular or more expensive option. Certain substances may be more addictive, or even deadlier than common legal party drugs like poppers.

If you or a loved one is struggling with abuse of party drugs, call Arete Recovery at 844-318-7500 or contact us online to find out more about your options. Recovery might just be a call away.

2C-B Drug Effects Timeline: How Long Do They Last?

The effects of the 2C-B drug can vary depending on dosage and on the individual taking them. They are an attractive alternative to MDMA with a shorter timeline.

Strobe lights flash as the beat from electronic dance music vibrates through the room. Someone taps you on the shoulder and hands you a little white tablet. This small hockey puck shaped pill can be one of the several substances known as club drugs. These drugs are taken to enhance the party experience, increase emotional connectivity, and bring on a sense of euphoria. The most common of these drugs is MDMA, also known as molly or ecstasy. But since MDMA’s legal status changed in 1985, several designer drugs took its place.

The 2C-B drug is one such designer drug that was popularized in the wake of outlawing MDMA. It was first sold and shared as ecstasy, with the typical teenage raver not knowing the difference. However, experienced users can tell the difference based on the shorter duration of the 2C-B drug’s effects. Later, it gained some popularity of its own and has recently become the most popular party drug in countries like Columbia.

What Is the 2C-B Drug?

2C-B, short for 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine, also called Nexus or Bees, is a synthetic designer psychedelic drug. The chemical is a serotonin receptor antagonist, which affects mood. It is sold as a powder or tablet and can be vaporized, swallowed, or insufflated (snorted). It is a member of the 2C family of drugs that was synthesized to for its mood lifting and empathogenic effects. Scientists believed it could be useful for psychotherapeutic purposes. Today it is listed as a Schedule I drug in the United States.

2C-B as a Designer Drug

Designer drugs are often created to replace an existing substance after it has been made illegal. Sometimes they are even made to isolate and enhance specific effects. However, like in the case of 2C-B, designer drugs may be created legally in laboratories to minimize side effects of an existing substance to use it for clinical purposes.

In 1976, a chemist named Alexander Shulgin introduced MDMA (synthesized in 1912) to the scientific community and psychologists began using it in small doses to aid in talk therapy sessions. Shulgin synthesized countless chemical variations, some of which aimed at mimicking MDMA and minimizing side effects.

He synthesized the 2C family of drugs, which are considered psychedelics rather than entactogens like MDMA. Though they do have similar effects to ecstasy, the 2C family tends to have more psychedelic effects that may alter perception.

As a designer drug, 2C-B became a legal alternative to ecstasy, and once it was outlawed, 2C-I took its place in some countries. When used illegally, designer drugs can pose a problem for medical professionals and forensic scientists. If patients come in under the influence of one of a variety of different designer drugs, it can be difficult to know the best treatment. Also, when drug screens and toxicology reports are performed, labs use immunoassay tests, which cannot produce accurate results when drugs like the 2C family are involved.

2C-B Drug Effects on the Body

There has been limited academic research done to measure the effects of 2C-B and anecdotal evidence suggests that the effects can widely vary between experiences. However, there are many commonly reported side effects, including:

  • Indigestion, stomach ache, diarrhea when ingested
  • Mild body tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperthermia
  • Headaches

Many of these symptoms vary in intensity based on dosage. Effects that have to do with the heart or blood pressure typically occur with extremely high doses. Some gastrointestinal distress is usually felt even with the typical effective dose (10 mg when taken orally). Doses above 35 mg (20 mg when insufflated) are more likely to lead to adverse effects like hypertension or hyperthermia.

2C-B drug effects are typically mild at standard doses with users reporting subtle-to-no-effects at 10 mg. The lethal dose is unknown; in fact, in his book PiHKAL: A Chemical Love StoryShulgin said he accidentally took 100 mg with no adverse effects. However, any chemical that affects blood pressure and the heart can have serious harmful effects for some users.

2C-B Drug Effects on the Mind

The effects of 2C-B are comparable to MDMA despite the fact they are serotonergic psychedelics instead of empathogens. Users use 2C drugs differently than other psychedelics. Typically knowledgeable users adhere to the “set and setting” rule, the idea coined by Dr. Norman Zinberg that says your environment and mindset largely shape psychedelic trips. Because of this, trips can be negative when experienced in settings with crowds, loud noises, and flashing lights.

However, since 2C-B mimics MDMA, it’s mood elevation and empathic effects make it popular at parties. These effects include:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Giggling or deep belly laughs
  • Zoning out or focusing on things like sounds or movies
  • Synesthesia
  • Increased body awareness
  • Mood lift
  • Brighter colors

In some users and at higher doses, effects may be more comparable to typical psychedelics. Users who take doses around 30 mg, report open-eye visuals (OEV) and closed eye visuals (CEV), red and green color changes, loss of balance, and difficulty communicating. In some cases, high doses lead to powerful and frightening trips, which can be dangerous, especially in a party setting.

It offers positive mood changes and some perceptual changes without the impairment typically associated with psychedelics which makes it a popular alternative to MDMA. However, like other psychedelics, it’s common to feel restless or even panicked when on 2C-B.

How Long Do 2C-B Drug Effects Last?

Like most drugs, 2C-B has a duration time that depends on the method of introducing it into the body. It can last four to eight hours when taken orally and four to 12 hours when insufflated. When ingesting, it takes 2C-B longer than other similar drugs to take effect, with some experiencing no effects for up to an hour. Insufflating takes much less time to take effect, with just one to ten minutes before feeling the drug.

How Dangerous are 2C-B Drug Effects?

There is little evidence to suggest that 2C-B poses a high risk of addiction, but, because of its status as a party drug, it is often abused. Taking psychedelics in public can be very dangerous. Most deaths associated with psychedelic drugs happens because the users put themselves in harm’s way because of a bad trip. Plus, psychedelic drugs typically pose psychological risks at some level. If you are a dealing with any psychological problems, you may worsen them when taking psychedelics like 2C-B. There is also the danger of experiencing PTSD or other mental issues as a result of having a bad trip.

If you or someone you know is struggling with party drugs like 2C-B or MDMA, call Arete Recovery at (844) 318-7500 or contact us online to learn about what you can do to get on the road to recovery.

2C-I Drug Effects: Can You Overdose?

Not all psychedelics come from a remote place in some distant mountain forest or tropical jungle, like DMT or mescaline. Some are created in labs in order to synthesize and study the effects of different chemical compounds and explore any potential uses. In the 1960s and 70s, psychedelics were the subject of intense drugs. In fact, scientists ran scores of experiments using drugs like LSD, some of which have become infamous.

Some synthetic psychedelic drugs are produced from existing, naturally occurring psychoactive chemicals—2C-I is one such drug. As a member of the 2C family, the 2C-I drug is a synthetic club drug that was created in the 70s from a naturally occurring psychedelic compound called mescaline, which comes from a variety of plants including the peyote cactus.

When these drugs find their way to the streets they can be unpredictable. With a variety of chemical compounds in the 2C family, it can be difficult for users to know what they are getting into. It can also be difficult for law enforcement and legislators to respond to unique compounds and designer drugs. Finally, medical professionals may have a hard time responding to patients who are intoxicated by one of many possible 2C drugs. Researchers often produce studies, exploring possible treatment options for specific compounds like the 2C-I drug.

What Are Designer Drugs?

The 2C-1 drug is a member of a long line of designer drugs, which are substances that have similarities with other illicit drugs. These similarities may include comparable chemical properties and effects. Designer drugs are produced when a popular drug is banned and strictly controlled. Then one of two things occurs:

  1. There is an existing legal compound that was created for some scientific purpose that closely resembles a controlled substance.
  2. An illegal lab produces a similar compound to be sold on the gray market (a market used to sell items that are potentially illegal to trade but are done so through loopholes).

Sometimes designer drugs maintain their popularity even after they are banned and regulated. In the case of drugs designed by the academic community, these compounds are often created to maximize potency and minimize negative side effects. On the other hand, designer drugs are new compounds distinct from their illicit counterparts. If users treat them like known versions of the drug with no knowledge of potency, it can lead to overdoses or other negative effects.

The term “bath salts” was popular in the media a few years ago, referring to a specific drug that caused increased aggression and violent behavior. However, bath salts is a term used to describe designer drugs in general. The name comes from the fact that designer drugs are often sold disguised as some other product like cleaner or actual bath salts.

Following the banning of MDMA in 1985, designer drugs in the 2C family started to grow in popularity. 2C-B was also targeting with a ban in the early 2000s and 2C-I took center stages. As of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012, 2C-I is illegal in the US.

What Is the 2C-I Drug?

2C-I is a psychedelic drug that is a phenethylamine, or an organic compound that acts as a nervous system stimulant. The 2C-I drug gained the nickname smiles because, unlike many psychedelic drugs, 2C-I has effects similar to MDMA (ecstasy).

2C-I was synthesized by Alexander Shulgin in 1975, along with some other phenethylamines and the rest of the 2C-I drugs. He published a study measuring the potency of these drugs and later a book titled PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story. Shulgin is credited with introducing MDMA to the scientific community and through his work became known as the “godfather of psychedelics”. In his published writings, he describes a plethora of different chemical compounds with slight variations and varied effects.

2C-I is often confused with the drug 2C-I-NBOMe which is a psychedelic that also shares some effects similar to MDMA. However, this drug, also known as “smiles,” has a much lower active dose than NBOMe. It has lead to overdoses when users take a dose that would be appropriate for 2C-I.

Physiological Experience of the 2C-I Drug Effects

Since the 2C-I drug is a stimulant, it causes a variety of effects that manifest in the body including muscle spasm, cramps, and contractions. In a 2014 study, researchers found that the drug produced a head twitch in mice. The drug has other physical effects that aren’t typical of other psychedelics like DMT or psilocybin. For instance, 2C-1 drug effects raise energy levels in a way that is similar to MDMA. 2C-I is also said to produce an intense “body high”, or pins and needles and skin sensitivity, in a larger dosage that isn’t present in other psychedelics.

Users also experience unpredictable rushes of bodily warmth that start at the top of the head. Others who experience this kind of physical euphoria may also feel an intensification of the sense of touch.

Other common physical effects of the 2C-I drug include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea
  • Pupil dilation

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology reported some other more serious physical side effects including hypertension, tachycardia, seizures, and, because of the drug’s effect of blocking temperature regulation, hyperthermia.

Psychological 2C-I Drug Effects

2C-I drug effects are congruent with other psychedelics like LSD and has some overlapping effects with MDMA. While psychedelics like LSD and salvia can be less enjoyable to users and more dangerous in a party setting, 2C-I is commonly used at parties.

Like MDMA, 2C-I affects users with empathogenic effects. This refers to a heightened experience of emotional connection with others and emotional openness. A study in mice also showed that subjects increased social and exploratory behavior. Users also report a feeling of increased environmental novelty or being in awe of their surroundings. Other psychological effects of  the 2C-I drug include:

  • Increased libido
  • Time distortion
  • Wakefulness
  • Hallucinations
  • Synaesthesia, crossing of senses (ie. tasting words, hearing colors)

According to the Journal of Medical Toxicology study, 2C drugs also displayed some other psychological symptoms including agitation, aggression, and violent tendencies.

2C-I Drug Overdose Risks

Since the 2C-I drug has only recently been common on the streets as a designer drug, there is still a lot to learn about its effects on humans. Many users are unaware of the potency and potential risks they face when ingesting these serious lab-grown substances. Studies show that people who used 2C-I suffered from dangerous levels of delirium, hyperthermia, and seizures, all of which require immediate medical attention.

Case studies involving fatal seizures are being studied as they seem to be closely related to recent doses of 2C-I drugs. Designer drugs can be deadly and 2C-I is no exception.

Seeking Substance Abuse Treatment Help

There is little evidence to suggest that the 2C-I drug effects have a high likelihood of addiction. However, as a party drug, it has a high likelihood of being abused. If you or a loved one struggles with drug abuse, call Arete Recovery at (844) 318-7500 or contact us online to speak with an advisor anytime day or night. Find out what you can do to start your road to recovery today.