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Kids Choke Themselves to Get High

Middle-schoolers who drink, gamble or have sex are more likely to play a hazardous "choking game."


The "choking game" is not child's play. Photo via

By May Wilkerson


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Kids these days may be turning to more than drugs to get high: many are reportedly playing the "choking game," and those who do are more likely to engage in other "risky" activities including sex, substance abuse and gambling, according to a new study by Oregon Health Authority in Portland . The treacherous activity involves using a belt or rope around the neck to limit oxygen flow to the brain; releasing the pressure can result in a euphoric "high" feeling as blood rushes back to the brain. The study of 5,300 middle schoolers revealed that 22% of them had heard of the game, and 6% had tried it. Boys and girls were equally likely to have participated, and of those who had taken part, 64% admitted to choking themselves multiple times. The study also showed that sexually active girls were four times more likely to have played the game, and girls who had gambled were twice as likely. Of the boys surveyed, those who had used alcohol recently were four times more likely to have choked themselves. The findings suggest that exhibiting these other risky behaviors may indicate a child's increased likelihood to try choking—and vice versa. Doctors are advised to look out for signs of the activity, such as red markings around the neck. And both pediatricians and parents should warn teens about the dangers of the activity, which is responsible for at least 82 known child deaths between 1995 and 2007.

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