'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, scolberg@opubco.com Modified: July 12, 2010 at 8:05 am •  Published: July 12, 2010

Schools and drug experts are warning parents to beware of "digital drugs" that Mustang High School students blamed for their apparent intoxication.

Three students were sent to the principal's office when they appeared to be high on drugs or alcohol in March, said Mustang School District Superintendent Bonnie Lightfoot. She said the kids explained that they had tried something called "i-dosers."

Young people plug into i-dosers through putting on headphones and downloading music and tones that create a supposed drug-like euphoria.

The technology is designed to combine a tone in each ear to create a binaural beat designed to alter brainwaves. Whether it was kids faking it, the power of suggestion or a high wasn't clear to administrators who investigated the students' claims. Adding to the mystery was the fact that these kids weren't troublemakers. So the worried Lightfoot sent parents a letter warning them to be aware of this new temptation to kids.

"The parents' reaction was the same as mine. Just shocked," Lightfoot said. "You've got to be kidding."

Now other schools and drug experts are concerned about this trend just hitting Oklahoma.

"I think it's very dangerous," said Karina Forrest-Perkins, chief operating officer of Gateway to Prevention and Recovery in Shawnee. While there are no known neurological effects from digital drugs, they encourage kids to pursue mood altering substances, she said.

Some parents have called the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control worried about i-dosing, said OBN spokesman Mark Woodward. He said the i-dosing effect is likely sort of a placebo rather than a valid threat to children's brain waves.

"The bigger concern is if you have a kid wanting to explore this, you probably have a kid that may end up smoking marijuana or looking for bigger things," Woodward said.

The digital drug website features advertisements enticing young people to buy dangerous pills, the hallucinatory herb salvia and synthetic marijuana.

"It's going to lead them to other web sites that will get them in trouble," Woodward said.

When young people go to one website to download digital drugs, they'll find a product line featuring titles such as "alcohol," "opium," "marijuana" and "orgasm." The website shows the digital drugs have been downloaded more than 1 million times.

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