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'Digital drugs' at Mustang High School have experts warning of slippery slope

As digital drugs or i-dosing appears in Oklahoma, experts warn that it's not the sounds themselves that should worry parents. The websites where the tones are sold entice young people down a slippery slope, they say.
By Sonya Colberg, Modified: July 12, 2010 at 8:05 am •  Published: July 12, 2010

To sell more, the websites encourage users to write about their experiences on the site. One user said animals popped up and paint seemed to fall from the wall. Another user wrote, "I feel nothing. I'm starting to wonder if this is just a big ploy to get money from gullible customers." Still others said they experienced euphoria or sensations similar to getting high on crack and other drugs.

A site says that the i-doses may not be downloaded by anyone under 18 years of age.

"Come on. You know they are," Forrest-Perkins said. "No one over 18 is trying to get stoned on a song."

Kids disappointed in their digital experience might try huffing paint or another chemical, or smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol, Forrest-Perkins said.

Woodward and Forrest-Perkins pointed out that no studies have concluded that binaural beats actually chemically alter the brain.

A 2005 University of South Florida study looked at whether children and young adults with ADHD could better focus by listening to binaural beats. But the results were inconclusive. The University of Virginia recently received a $357,000 grant to look at pain and anxiety therapies, primarily binaural beat stimulation.

Mental health counselor Jed Shlackman said he has successfully used CDs featuring binaural beats to help treat ADHD patients. He said binaural beats are relatively safe and no more dangerous than activities such as shopping or exercising done in excess by young people.

He said the binaural beats lack the intensity or withdrawal effects of some chemical drugs.

"If a parent notices a child is sitting around all the time with headphones on, they should look into what stresses are happening in the child's life ... and deal with it in a constructive way," Shlackman said.

Lightfoot said like Mustang High School parents, she's shocked over the digital drugs.

"What worries me is the ease in which some people can sell things to kids by saying that it's supposed to be mood altering," she said. "It's a real moneymaker out there."