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Article Summary

Yaba

What is yaba?

Yaba is a combination of methamphetamine (a powerful and addictive stimulant) and caffeine. Yaba, which means crazy medicine in Thai, is produced in Southeast and East Asia. The drug is popular in Asian communities in the United States and increasingly is available at raves and techno parties.

What does yaba look like? Yaba is sold as tablets. These tablets are generally no larger than a pencil eraser. They are brightly colored, usually reddish-orange or green. Yaba tablets typically bear one of a variety of logos; R and WY are common logos.

How is yaba used?

Yaba tablets typically are consumed orally. The tablets sometimes are flavored like candy (grape, orange, or vanilla). Another common method is called chasing the dragon. Users place the yaba tablet on aluminum foil and heat it from below. As the tablet melts, vapors rise and are inhaled. The drug also may be administered by crushing the tablets into powder, which is then snorted or mixed with a solvent and injected.

Who uses yaba?

It is difficult to determine the scope of yaba use in the United States because most data sources do not distinguish yaba from other forms of methamphetamine. Yaba has emerged as a drug of abuse in Asian communities in the United States, specifically in Northern California and in Los Angeles.

Yaba also is becoming increasingly popular at raves, techno parties, and other venues where the drug MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, typically called ecstasy) is used. Drug distributors deliberately market yaba to young people, many of whom have already tried MDMA. The bright colors and candy flavors of yaba tablets are examples of distributors' attempts to appeal to young people.

What are the risks?

Individuals who use yaba face the same risks as users of other forms of methamphetamine: rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and damage to the small blood vessels in the brain that can lead to stroke. Chronic use of the drug can result in inflammation of the heart lining. Overdoses can cause hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), convulsions, and death. Individuals who use yaba also may have episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia.

Although most users administer yaba orally, those who inject the drug expose themselves to additional risks, including contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne viruses.

What is Yaba called?

The most common names for yaba are crazy medicine and Nazi speed.

Is yaba illegal?

Yes, yaba is illegal because it contains methamphetamine, a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs, which include cocaine and PCP, have a high potential for abuse. Abuse of these drugs may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

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