From Salvia divinorum to jenkem, the list of bogus drug scares Texans have heard about over the years is longer than a Grateful Dead tour. And now, school officials in Gilmer are wringing their hands over the possibility that students are using a smartphone app, according an article in the Longview News-Journal.
“These recordings [available on the smartphone app I-Doser] are being called digital drugs because they can produce some of the same effects as illegal drugs,” cautioned Gilmer High School Principal Greg Watson in an email to parents and guardians of students. “I just wanted you to be aware of what they are doing and to encourage you to be watchful and mindful of the situation.”
The Washington Post explains that audio downloads from “i-dosing” sites are designed to play tones of two different frequencies in either ear. Some i-dosers say that these tones synchronize with brain waves and cause feelings of being high, mimics the effects of anything from peyote to cocaine to true love.
It is difficult to judge just how widespread the use of these sonic goodies is, but one Gilmer High School student did report seeing someone using the “drugs” in his art class.
Gilmer ISD Superintendent Rick Albritton was quick to point out that the district “regularly sends out memos about new dangers of which parents should be aware,” the article explained.
“The information sent to our parents regarding binaural digital recordings was just one of many attempts … to keep everyone informed and aware of current issues,” he told the newspaper in a statement. “The messages that we send out are not necessarily meant to indicate that a widespread problem exists.”
It is unclear if these so-called “drugs” can cause addiction or overdose, as reports about their effects are scant. Psychology Today says it as a “probably not” a real drug, and according to the News-Journal, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has no scientific data on the phenomenon, so they cannot establish its validity.
“This is one of those new things nobody has heard about,” Albritton said. “It’s something that if my kids had access to this stuff, I would want to know about it.”
The narcotic fad made headlines in 2010, when the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs warned citizens about potential dangers. Bureau spokesman Mark Woodward explained on a Oklahoma News 9 newscast that “kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places.”
The worry over i-dosing in Oklahoma was “just the latest example of the media’s longstanding infatuation with fanning the flames of parental pharmacological-based hysteria,” Matt Harvey noted at Gawker in 2010.
Jack Shafer, who has penned numerous columns on bogus drug scares, had this to say about them at Reuters:
The more stereotypical, false, scary or familiar the press accounts – the drug causes sudden death, it causes violence, it causes self-harm, it causes brain damage, it causes blindness, it causes impotence, it causes cognitive deficits – the greater the willingness of the public to believe the worst, no matter what the empirical data says. …
Tragically, the media-inspired drug-scare cycle tends to raise the awareness of a “new” drug at the expense of the drugs that have a greater impact on public health (alcohol, tobacco). Even worse, scare stories end up promoting the new drug better than any Madison Avenue campaign ever could, creating a “boomerang effect.”