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"Digital Drugs" Can Be Downloaded for a Dollar

Online audio files claim to reproduce the highs of specific drugs; science is skeptical. But what do users think?

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High on more than life? Thinkstock

By Zac Curtis

11/28/11

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It's claimed you can now get as high as if you've taken ecstasy or cocaine, using just a pair of earphones and a downloadable audio file—teens are reported to be experimenting enthusiastically with "digital drugs," "sonic drugs," or "i-dosing," as it's variously known. The idea is to alter brain chemistry using calculated sound frequencies. It's not exactly new: casual listeners, rehabs and music therapists all know how much music changes moods. But i-dosing takes things a step further. I-Doser.com’s $16.95 starter pack of recreational "drugs" contains four files designed to "alter consciousness" like cocaine, opium, marijuana and peyote. Other sites sell files for just a dollar.

One user tells The Fix about "getting high, but somewhat queasy," on a binaural beat (a trippy combination of one frequency in one ear and a slightly different frequency in the other) designed to simulate the high of cocaine. But he says that I-Doser's "Opium" progresses, appropriately enough, "more smoothly." After a 15 minute "dose," he reports a "trance-like, spaced out quality" that ends with feeling "disoriented" when the music stops. Is he coming down? Scientists think not. "Saying it will induce specific recreational drug experiences, it’s really a hoax," says Dr. Daniyal Ibrahim, chief of toxicology at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT. "There is no logical basis to suggest that somehow listening to sound will simulate a neurochemical change.” But he and others worry that the druggy audio files could lead kids to try the real thing.

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