Amyl Nitrite: Reactions with other drugs or substances

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 5:32 am


Amyl nitrite is commonly used in conjunction with other illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, and hallucinogens, to enhance the high. Doing so increases the risk of adverse reactions. A British survey published in 2000 found that a majority of young people at dance clubs and raves regularly used more than one drug at a time, with amyl nitrite often part of the mix. For example, 49% of those surveyed said they regularly used amyl nitrite in conjunction with ecstasy. The use of amyl nitrite with these and other so-called club drugs can lead to psychiatric problems and physiological conditions such as overheating, dehydration, and heart strain.

Amyl nitrite is particularly dangerous when combined with the prescription drug Viagra, used to treat impotence. Since both act to dilate blood vessels, taking the two together can cause blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels. This can lead to heart attack and stroke. Amyl nitrite also should not be taken by men using minoxidil (Rogaine) to treat hair loss, since it has the potential to reduce blood pressure.

Amyl nitrite can also be dangerous for people who take prescription medications to treat hypertension or high blood pressure. These include:

Diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide combinations (Aldoril, Capozide, Dyazide, HydroDiuril, Maxzide, and Lopressor HCT).

• Beta-blockers, including carvedilol (Coreg), atenolol (Tenormin), betaxolol (Kerlone), metopro-lol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), penbutolol (Levatol), and propranolol (Inderal).

• Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, such as benazepril (Lotensin), enalapril (Vasotec), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), quinapril (Accupril), and ramipril (Altace).

Calcium channel blockers, including diltiazem (Cardizem SR, Dilacor XR, Tiazac), nicardipine (Cardene), amlodipine (Norvasc), felodipine (Plendil), and enalapril maleate-felodipine ER (Lexxel).

• Angiotensin II receptor antagonists, such as losartan (Cozaar, Hyzaar), valsartan (Diovan), irbesartan (Avapro), and candesartan cilexetil (Atacand).

• Vasodilators, including guanfacine (Tenex), methyldopa (Aldomet), prazosin (Minipress), terazosin (Hytrin), hydralazine (Apresoline), and minoxidil (Loniten).

Amyl nitrite can also act adversely or unpredictably in people taking heart medications such as nitroglycerine, or anti-depression medications. There is also new research that suggests amyl nitrite can interfere with and reduce the effectiveness of HIV medications. Of particular concern are protease inhibitors, such as indinavir (Crixivan), saquinavir mesylate (Invirase), nelfinavir mesylate (Viracept), and ritonavir (Norvir).


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