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Addiction Medicine FYI

Yaba

Yaba is a combination of methamphetamine (30%) and caffeine (70%). 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. A tablet version has become the most popular form of the drug in East Asia, according to the United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC).

The tablets are inexpensive to manufacture, costing about $1 (US) and some labs can manufacture up to 10,000 tabs per hour. The main ingredients, which include salt, household cleaning products, distilled cold medicines, and lithium from camera batteries, can be bought legally. 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.

Photograph of orange and pink tablets in baggies. Photograph showing comparison of  small pink tablets in a baggy beside a pen and cigarette.
Yaba Tablets - Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - 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 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.

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. Overdoses can cause hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), convulsions, and death. Individuals who use yaba also may have episodes of violent behavior, paranoia, depression, 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.

6/2/08