We’ve been talking about various drugs that teens may be exposed to in this series, but I wanted to also address other things teens may use to ‘get high.’ This post will focus on the ‘choking game,’ which isn’t a game at all. In fact, teens may ‘play’ this game because they see it as safe: it’s not a drug or alcohol. It can be done alone or with friends and is free. The problem is that this can be deadly.

The choking game is also know as ‘5 minutes of heaven’ and ‘the fainting game.’ Teens basically deprive their brain of oxygen by cutting off blood flow. They (or a friend) may use their hands, string, rope, or a belt around the neck to choke themselves until they pass out. A teen can feel a ‘rush’ or ‘high’ as they’re passing out or just as the blood flow is returning.

This game is dangerous and potentially deadly. It’s hard to know exactly how many teens die each year from this activity. Deaths from hanging and choking may be categorized as suicides instead of unintentional injury, especially if a teen is ‘playing’ this game alone. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson blogged about the choking game on seattlemamadoc.

If you notice marks on your teen’s neck or blood shot eyes, ask them about the choking game. Talk with your child’s health care provider as well.

As a parent, its important to talk with your teen about drugs and alcohol as well as dangerous activities they may be exposed to. See our posts on rope swings and dangerous games for other activities that can be deadly.