A new study found that 1 in 16 youth had played a risky “choking game” — with black youth more likely to participate.

The “choking game” involves decreasing the amount of oxygen to the brain, leading to a sensation which some describe as “floaty,” “tingling,” or a euphoric high. Once the person faints and the blood is allowed to return to the brain, a second high is often felt.

Various techniques are used. Some involve hyperventilating followed by a tight bear hug, palms hitting a person chest, or literally choking someone.

Robert J. Nystrom, an author of the study explains the attraction: “It’s a legal kind of high… a way to get a rush.” But, warns that it is no less dangerous than illicit drugs.

“Occasionally, I would get a call from a parent who unfortunately had a son or daughter who died from the game, or had serious injury. They would ask, ‘what do you know about this?'”

Unfortunately, he knew very little, which led to his research in the topic.

This most recent study looked at 7,500 Oregon 8th graders, and not only found an alarming prevalence of participating in this game, but showed an association with other risky behaviors.

“Risk begets risk,” Nystrom says. “Once an adolescent is carrying two or three of the most common risk factors, it’s not unusual to see them engage in other risky behaviors.”

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