By Jacob Sullum
In a story headlined "Teens Turn to Digital Drugs," NBC Connecticut almost lets the truth get in the way of good scare. It starts out strong, warning that "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." Stephanie Moran, program director at the Governor's Prevention Partnership, is concerned, saying: "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." But NBC Connecticut tosses a wet blanket on the smoldering panic halfway through the piece:
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.
But even though "i-dosing" does not really work and has no known negative side effects, that does not mean parents shouldn't worry about it:
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.
Nice save, NBC Connecticut! A slippery slope and a gateway: I-dosing is no big deal by itself, but it might lead to pot smoking, which also is no big deal by itself but might lead to heroin addiction. Here are some other things that should be discouraged because they might stimulate a desire to use drugs: dreaming, meditation, religious ecstasy, spinning in a circle, vigorous exercise, and local news coverage.
More on digital drugs.