LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV/WMC-TV) - It's a new trend most adults have not heard of, but it is appearing in some parts of the country: teenagers trying to get a high using nothing more than sounds.
To get these so-called 'digital drugs,' you don't need a street dealer. You don't even need a prescription. All you need to gain access to digital drugs is a computer, a credit card and a pair of headphones.
These sound files are sold by a company known as I-Doser. Starting with just a couple of dollars, anyone can download these sounds, which I-Doser says will alter people's moods, making them feel uplifted, even more confident.
But other sounds promise to make listeners feel like they're on drugs, from cocaine to crystal meth and speed, and everything in between.
These digital sounds are nothing more than binaural beats, which have been around for a long time. Binaural beats are created when two different sounds are played at slightly different frequencies in each ear. The differing frequencies create a pulse sensation, or beats, which some people believe give them the illusion they're on drugs. Binaural beats were created in the 1830's, and have been used in the military and by doctors to help patients with hearing problems.
Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Sreela Pulakhandam, with the Institute of Neuropsychiatry in Lake Charles, says not many studies have been done over the long-term effects of casual use of binaural beats. However, constant exposure to binaural beats does give Dr. Pulakhandam some concerns.
"Even though this is safe, it has been noted that it could be a precursor to actually start using the real drugs," Pulakhandam said, noting that binaural beats should generally not be used by children.
Because not many studies have been done over casual use of binaural beats, KPLC put two of our own to the test.
Trevor and Charles are two behind the scenes guys who volunteered for our experiment.
Trevor remained relaxed and calm throughout the entire process, but the reaction from Charles was much different.
"All of a sudden I just felt sick. I just felt really sick and I knew I couldn't keep it up," said Charles, who started laughing at one point uncontrollably.
Many teens have posted videos of themselves listening to binaural beats to YouTube. The reactions range from visible boredom to over excitement.
Dr. Pulakhandam said the best way to prevent any behavioral changes in teenagers is for parents to monitor their children closely.
"Just being careful and monitoring and understanding what the children [are[ on is the best thing," said Pulakhandam.
I-Doser does list several disclaimers on its website. The company said its products should be used for entertainment purposes only.