These substances range from the aliphatic nitrates including cyclohexyl nitrate) an ingredient found in room deodorizers), amyl nitrate (used medically), and butyl nitrate (previously used to manufacture perfumes and antifreeze but now legal).
Nitrates act primarily to dilate blood vessels and to relax the muscles. They’re often used to enhance the experience of sex or before sporting events to reduce stress. On the street, ampules of amyl nitrate and butyl nitrate are known as poppers or snappers.
Volatile hydrocarbons have a high addiction potential because people build tolerance for them over time. Psychological dependence also builds because users may start to count on the substances to avoid reality.
Recent research suggests the possibility that the abuse of nitrate inhalants may increase the risk of infection or tumor, because the body becomes less resistant to disease.