The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning against drinking poppers, saying many people are mistaking the recreational drug favored by gay men for use during anal sex with the more mainstream energy shots which come in similar packaging.
“We continue to receive reports of people dying or being severely injured after consuming poppers that resemble, and often mistaken for, popular energy shots,” the FDA warned Thursday on social media.
Poppers and energy shots come in similar bottles, wrappers, and color schemes.
Nitrite poppers are a fixture at gay bars, clubs, and sex parties. When inhaled they provide an immediate, short, and intense high that users say increases sexual arousal and relaxes the sphincter muscles. Poppers are sold online and at adult stores under brand names like Jungle Juice, Extreme Formula, HardWare, Quick Silver, Super RUSH, Super RUSH Nail Polish Remover, and Premium Ironhorse. They are also marketed and sold as nail polish removers, solvents, cleaning products, air fresheners, liquid incense, and cosmetics.
This is not the first time the FDA has urged the public to just say no to the recreational use of poppers. In 2021, the agency cited numerous health risks when it advised the public to abstain from using poppers.
“The FDA advises consumers not to purchase or use nitrite ‘poppers’ because these products can result in serious adverse health effects, including death, when ingested or inhaled,” the agency said in a 2021 statement.
At the time, the FDA said it had “observed an increase in reports of deaths and hospitalizations with issues such as severe headaches, dizziness, increase in body temperature, difficulty breathing, extreme drops in blood pressure, blood oxygen issues (methemoglobinemia) and brain death after ingestion or inhalation of nitrite ‘poppers.’”
“Don’t be fooled,” Judy McMeekin, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a separate statement in 2021. “These poppers, often purchased online or in novelty stores, are unapproved products and should not be inhaled or ingested, regardless of how they are packaged, labeled, or displayed. Used as a recreational drug, they can cause serious health issues. They are not worth your life.”
The FDA sounded a similar theme in its post Thursday.
“A single mistake can prove fatal,” the agency warned.