07 Nov What Is the Drug NBOMe?
NBOMe is the collective name used to describe a group of manmade, illegal hallucinogenic drugs that create brain effects similar to the effects associated with LSD and other well-known hallucinogens. In the U.S., reports on the consumption of NBOMe first emerged in the 2010s. In a study published in August 2014 in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, researchers at the Texas Department of State Health Services provided details on possible methods of NBOMe use, as well as details on the potentially severe outcomes associated with consuming these drugs.
Hallucinogens get their name because they cause hallucinations, distortions of any one of the five senses that lead to substantial alteration of the normal process of sensory perception. Any person experiencing a hallucination can easily lose touch with reality and expose himself or herself to unpredictable, potentially severe, negative personal or social consequences. In addition to hallucinations, problems associated with the use of certain hallucinogens include rapid and sharp mood swings, highly erratic behavior, development of a psychotic mental state that may include delusional thinking as well as hallucinations, and loss of memory function in long-term users. The most well-known hallucinogens are manmade LSD and the naturally occurring substances psilocybin (found in certain mushroom species) and mescaline (found in certain cactus species). A powerful and highly dangerous anesthetic drug called PCP (phencyclidine) also has a strongly hallucinogenic effect on users. The American Psychiatric Association officially recognizes several forms of substance use disorder (substance abuse and/or addiction) related to the use/abuse of hallucinogens.
There are three identified forms of NBOMe, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports: 25B-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe and 25I-NBOMe. These substances produce their brain effects in a manner similar to that associated with LSD, psilocybin and mescaline. All forms of NBOMe are close chemical relatives of another group of manmade hallucinogens known collectively as 2C; however, NBOMe has substantially higher potency than 2C. Known forms of NBOMe available in the U.S. include powders and liquids; manufacturers of the drug may add it to food or apply it to a paper base. Some products may only contain one of the three types of NBOMe; however, others may contain a combination of two or three types of the drug. In some cases, NBOMe distributors may label their products as LSD, not as NBOMe. A federal law called the Controlled Substances Act forbids the sale and possession of 25B-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe and 25I-NBOME.
The DEA uses a network of local and state facilities called the National Forensic Laboratory Information System to track the use of NBOMe (along with the full gamut of all other illegal/illicit substances). In the two-year time period between mid-2011 and mid-2013, forensic labs reporting to this system recorded 849 incidents in which the drug 25I-NBOMe was identified. In addition, local and state labs recorded 171 incidents involving 25C-NBOMe and 24 incidents involving 25B-NBOMe.
Consequences of Use
The DEA reports potential consequences of NBOMe use that include convulsions, a shutdown of lung function, a shutdown of heart function and death. Due to the relatively high potency of the drug, these severe harms may affect people who take NBOMe even in small amounts. In the study published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, the Texas Department of State Health Services researchers examined the details of 25 cases of NBOMe intake reported at poison control centers in the state throughout 2012 and 2013. The vast majority (88 percent) of these cases occurred among boys or men; the affected individuals were between the ages of 14 and 25. Three-quarters (76 percent) of the recorded cases involved 25I-NBOMe.
The researchers concluded that 72 percent of the recorded cases involved oral consumption of some form of NBOMe. Other forms of consumption included inhalation (12 percent of the cases) and the combination of oral intake and inhalation (4 percent of the cases). The most likely medically significant impact of NBOMe use was the onset of an abnormally accelerated heartbeat (present in 52 percent of affected individuals). In decreasing order of frequency, the other most likely impacts were an agitated mental state, hallucinations, high blood pressure, an unusually confused mental state and pupil dilation. Two of the 25 cases recorded in Texas in 2012 and 2013 resulted in death. The DEA reports that a minimum of 19 NBOMe consumers died across the U.S. in the 18-month period between March 2012 and August 2013.
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