People are using music to experience the same high they get from psychedelics.

Searching ‘binaural beats’ online, you’ll find a whole world of music people use to relax, focus, and, as researchers have found, get high.

Binaural beats is a genre of music that layers soft melodies over a calm background hum. If you’ve ever been to a spa or yoga class, it can be similar to the type of music you hear there.

This type of music has deep roots in cultures all over the world, but digital sound design has allowed music producers and researchers to refine and enhance the way it interacts with our brains.

Specifically, the ‘binaural’ part of the title refers to how these tracks are produced using two different tones at specific frequencies, one for each ear. Your brain then combines these two tones into one.

Researchers have found this can help listeners relax, reduce anxiety, and lift their mood.

But new research shows some users can also get high from these tracks.

In the 2021 Global Drug Survey of 30,000 people around the world, participants were asked about binaural beats.

Just over 5% of respondents said they use binaural beats to alter their mind - with three-quarters of those using it to help them relax or fall asleep and a third to change their mood.

And 11.7% of people said they can use binaural beats to ‘get a similar effect to that of other drugs’.

The majority of people who used binaural beats wanted to ‘connect with themselves’, and a quarter wanted to experience ‘something bigger than themselves’.

The researchers named this effect ‘digital drugs’ and said further research is needed to understand how people achieve these experiences and how it could be applied to psychological therapies.

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