So-called i-Dosing sees users listening to audio files which are claimed to induce drug-like effects.
The “doses” consist of extended binaural tones that are claimed to synchronise with brainwaves to create a simulated mood or experience. Videos have appeared on YouTube showing young people reacting badly to the experience.
Online suppliers of the MP3 files or “dose dealers” offer “quick-hits” for $3.95 (€3), while the range extends to so-called “premium” i-Doses for $199.
Top-of-the-range digital downloads on i-doser.com include Gate of Hades, which comes with the description “expect nightmares, near-death experiences, and strong onset of fear”. While the description of Hand of God reads: “It isn’t meant for public consumption because it is considered just too powerful. It’s like the Holy One reaches from the sky, as you lay with closed eyes, and shows you the universe, everything, infinity.” Other top sellers include files named Marijuana, Ecstasy, Trip and LSD.
Websites suggest that users listen to the audio files through high-quality headphones for the full effect. They claim they are a safe and legal way to get high but there are concerns that they could lead to illegal drug use.
One YouTube video of a young female nicknamed ‘shexreallyxloves’ shows her calmly lying on her bed with headphones on, before violently ripping them off and curling into a ball.
Her comment reads: “Me trying out Gates of Hades on i-Doser. This is my first experience, my mind was wandering most the time and I couldn’t focus but near the end it messed me up n freaked me out bad.”
Another clip features a blindfolded young man clutching at his legs while listening to headphones. His comment reads: “the couch was wet from all the sweat afterwards”.
The perceived problem of digital drugs has prompted a school in Oklahoma to send out warning letters to parents.
Meghan Edwards, a student at Mustang High School, described a friend’s experience to News9: “I heard it was like some weird demons and stuff through an iPod and he was like freaking out.”
“People do need to be concerned about it. It’s not just something that should be overlooked,” said Shelbi Reed, Mustang High School graduate.
“We had never come across anything like this and anything that is going to cause these physiological effects in a student, that causes us concern,” said Shannon Rigsby, Mustang Public Schools communication officer.
Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics told News9: “Kids are going to flock to these sites and it could lead them other places. So that’s why we want parents to be aware of what sites their kids are visiting and not just dismiss this as something harmless on the computer. Parents need to be aware.”