"Digital Drugs" Can Be Downloaded for a Dollar

"Digital Drugs" Can Be Downloaded for a Dollar

By Zac Curtis 11/28/11

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

High on more than life? Thinkstock

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.