Newest psychedelic drug — is sound? How people are using binaural beats to get high

Will the next generation of drugs be coming out of your headphones? A new survey is revealing the growing use of sound as a psychedelic drug.

Researchers from RMIT University in Australia say their study looked at the phenomenon of binaural beats, which are sounds that can allegedly trigger a psychoactive effect in the brain. More specifically, binaural beats are illusionary tones created by the brain when someone hears two different sound frequencies in each ear.

The team notes that there is little evidence backing up the claims, and also little research into the effectiveness and safety of listening to these beats. While the new report didn’t look into these issues either, it did reveal how people around the world are using the supposedly psychedelic audio clips.

Most are using them to soothe their mind

Data from the Global Drug Survey 2021 shows 72 percent of respondents use binaural beats to help them relax or fall asleep. Another 35 percent are trying to change their mood. However, 12 percent say they’re using binaural beats to create the same high they get from taking a psychedelic drug.

“Much like ingestible substances, some binaural beats users were chasing a high,” says study lead author Dr. Monica Barratt in a statement. “But that’s far from their only use. Many people saw them as a source of help, such as for sleep therapy or pain relief.”

Dr. Barratt notes that most of the people trying to get high had experience using other psychedelics. The survey included more than 30,000 people in 22 countries, including the United States.

Younger people using digital drugs ‘in multiple countries’

Researchers say these audio tracks often have titles which spell out their intended purpose, focusing on everything from mindfulness and meditation to tracks named after drugs like MDMA and cannabis.

Overall, binaural beat users were younger and were more likely to be using other drugs than those not listening to these clips. Users also admitted that they were trying to “connect with themselves” or “something bigger than themselves” through this experience. One in 20 wanted to reach an “altered state” through listening to binaural beats.

Globally, 16 percent of respondents from the U.S. say they’ve tried it, which is more than double the average in other nations. As for where people are getting their sound fix, most are turning to video streaming sites like YouTube and Vimeo, followed by apps like Spotify.

“It’s very new, we just don’t know much about the use of binaural beats as digital drugs,” Barratt says. “This survey shows this is going on in multiple countries. We had anecdotal information, but this was the first time we formally asked people how, why and when they’re using them.”

Does this change the definition of a drug?

“We’re starting to see digital experiences defined as drugs, but they could also be seen as complementary practices alongside drug use,” the study author adds. “Maybe a drug doesn’t have to be a substance you consume, it could be to do with how an activity affects your brain.”

Despite binaural beat listeners typically being younger people, the study says it’s unlikely these clips will act as a gateway drug to other substances.

“In the survey, we found most people who listen were already using ingestible substances,” Barratt continues. “But that doesn’t discount the need for more research, particularly to document and negate possible harms.”

On a positive note, audio clips like these could find a purpose in the medical world as a new therapy option.

“Evidence is mounting but it’s still unclear, which is why more research is needed into any possible side effects,” the researcher concludes.

The study is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Comments

    1. I wrote about this use of sound over thirty years ago. The day I awakened in meditation was March 13th 1989. Google the date as to what happened on that day. Positive Ions bathing the Earth and having a direct link on the brain as to seven sounds-notes to crack the skull wide open. I entered the metaverse back then and never left. Peace, Greg-Zuan.

  1. This is silly. I’ve used binaural beats on and off for years and never had a “psychedelic experience “ at any of the various rates of beating. All binaural beats are is feeding a sine wave at say, 100 cycles per second into one ear, and 104 cycles per second in the other ear. The supposed result is the brain combining the two frequencies to induce brain wave cycles at 4 beats per second. The resulting “beat frequency “ is supposed to enhance brain wave activity at that frequency. To compare that to what happen is you take 25 micrograms of LSD means the authors have never taken LSD.

    Journalists today are dumber than rocks.

    1. Yeah, the author of this article is seriously misinformed -or- is just recycling articles from 10 years ago when the same narrative was being pushed.

      Either way, this is yawn inducing drivel.

  2. This isn’t news. The Monroe Institute has been researching binaural beats for 50 years and using them for Out of Body Experiences.

    What is the music that creates the current interest?

  3. New? Are you on that brand new drug crack or something? Well, well over a decade commonly available… also not particularly effective so who cares?

  4. I get high to 60s 70s and some 80ss rock and roll alot of friday and saturday nights. The high is exacerbated by fishing on Friday and Saturday and catching 20 halibut over 15 pounds each day.

    Rock and Roll and fishing been gettin me high for decades, children…..

  5. The Monroe institute has been selling this for years. It’s interesting, and I think it does help me relax and handle stress, but it is hardly some magical cure that makes me “high.” Just google “Hemi sync” and try it out. That is if you lazy fat Americans can look up from your phone for more than 2 seconds.

  6. The Monroe institute in VA, founded by Robert Monroe (RIP) a radio broadcast and engineer has devoted his life’s work to binaural sounds and their effects, particularly upon OBE (out of body experiences)….This article, though interesting, is decades and decades behind the most recent advances in the subject matter.

  7. Ha, take some DMT and talk to me bud. Its funny how people who haven’t done hard core drugs seek to escape, but when you have done hard core drugs you become obsessed with every single thing about reality and I guess you could say: immerse.
    The grass is always greener on the other side.

  8. Not new at all. These misleading headlines show a lack of any type of research. I guess they never read Robert Monroe, nor heard of the Faber Institute, used my the Army’s Remote Viewing program, and Hemi-Synch, which is exactly what this poorly researched article is talking about.

  9. “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” Nikola Tesla

  10. Guess Melore never heard of Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Vol II from 1994. Or maybe Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports from 1978. If this an April fools joke, Hope this isn’t a new trend of April Fools jokes starting on March 31st.

  11. Just eat some good frijoles & paper and while the walls are breathing, you’ll enjoy the music:)

  12. I had anxiety and didn’t want to use prescription drugs. I found Kelly’s Howell “Universal Mind Meditation” with binaural beats. It works like magic. I saw the difference after 4 th night. Meditation is designed to fall asleep with. Your conscious mind is asleep and your subconscious listens to what the voice says and absorbs it. I have recommended this to so many people and everyone loved it. Anxiety , depression , stress , sleeplessness all disappeared after one week, but for better results listen for 6 /7 weeks .

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