Teens Turn to Digital Drugs

Digital drugs are sound files that are downloadable, legal and popular with teenagers.

Clinton Global Initiative

You can't see, taste or even touch digital drugs, but some people say all you need to get high is your computer.

Digital drugs, also referred to as sonic drugs or "I-dosing," are sound files that are downloadable, legal and popular with teenagers.

For as little as $1, you can download audio files that promise to deliver the experience of being drunk or of taking marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy or just about any other drug you can name.

"There’s one track that actually mimics driving under the influence of alcohol. There’s other ones for crystal meth, cocaine, heroin, all different kinds of drugs," Stephanie Moran, program director at the Governor's Prevention Partnership, said. http://www.preventionworksct.org/

Her organization has been tracking the trend in Connecticut for the past six months.

"We are expecting there to be a spike since kids are curious and they do like to try different things occasionally,” she said.

The music is on i-doser.com and YouTube and people wearing headphones claim they feel the effects while listening to the music.

A teenager, who only wants to be identified as Zach, is in treatment for dependency on actual drugs and admits to doing digital drugs.

"It's weird. You listen to something, you get high. You fall into a trance, and when the music stops playing, you wake up and you're high off of whatever drug you took," he said.

This is supposedly based on binaural beats, where a tone of one frequency is played into the right ear and a slightly different frequency is played into the left. The difference purportedly affects brainwaves and mimics the use of recreational drugs.

It’s no secret that music can affect one's mood, and binaural beats do exist, but doctors said there's no scientific basis that binaural beats can get you high.

"Saying it will induce specific recreational drug experiences, it’s really a hoax in my opinion," Dr. Daniyal Ibrahim, chief of toxicology at St. Francis Hospital, said. "There is no logical basis to suggest that somehow listening to sound that will simulate a neurochemical change that a drug is predictably doing to kids."

What videotaped experiences on YouTube show is the power of suggestion, he said.

"I think it's what we call the placebo effect," Ibrahim said.

The big fear is that experimenting with digital drugs might make some teens more curious to experience the real thing, especially those who are on the fence and might not want to try any illegal drug.

Dr. Ibrahim said it's a dangerous, slippery slope.

"To me, it’s really a gateway for inciting kids to try real drugs that's my biggest concern," he said.

Experts say that, although no studies have been done on digital drugs, "i-dosing" promotes drug use, so parents should discuss it with their children.

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