Synthetic LSD use worries health officials

By Brendan Manning

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

More tabs of LSD and its deadly synthetic counterpart 'N-Bomb' have been seized by police in one month this year than in all of 2012.

In January, 1317 tabs of LSD and NBOMe - known by its street name N-Bomb - were seized, surpassing the total number of tabs seized in 2012 (1290).

Last year, a whopping 18,981 tabs were seized, figures recently released by police reveal.

Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) senior forensic scientist Jenny Sibley said they had been analysing the NBOMe group of drugs for police for the past three years and their prevalence had been increasing rapidly.

"Police send them in to be analysed to see whether of not they're LSD.

"From July 2012 to February 2013 - in that time we saw seven LSD cases and eight NBOMe cases, then from March 2013 to October 2013 we saw 19 LSD cases and 45 NBOMe cases. It's pretty steady now,'' Ms Sibley said.

The emergence of N-Bomb has public health officials worried.

Four men in their 20s had to be restrained at a Christchurch party on Saturday after taking N-Bomb. One remains in intensive care with kidney and cardiac complications as a result.

They had taken the synthetic LSD at a party in the city and quickly became agitated and confused.

Police were called after the men were involved in a violent disturbance and had to be restrained before being taken to Christchurch Hospital's emergency department.

The drugs were powerful hallucinogens and were related to amphetamines, so had the potential toxicities of both classes of drug.

Recreational doses were measured in tiny microgram quantities, so estimating a safe versus a dangerous dose was extremely difficult.

Emergency clinicians advised drug users and the public to avoid any drug sold as an NBOMe type because of the potential for serious harm.

Last May, 21-year-old British man Jake Harris became agitated and was heard shouting and pleading "I want it to stop'' after taking N-Bomb. He later smashed a glass on a bedside cabinet and stabbed himself repeatedly in the neck, the Daily Mail reported. He died later in hospital.

The drug has also killed five people in the United States, the Daily Mail reported.

Last June, 17-year-old Henry Kwan jumped to his death from a balcony at his Sydney home after taking N-Bomb, the Australian reported.

His last words: "I want to fly. I want to fly''.

The Ministry of Health said it was an offence to sell, supply or possess the drug.

It has not been approved by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, which makes recommendations on the classification of substances such as NBOMe, so was an unapproved substance under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.

"The relevant provisions in the PSA make it an offence to sell, supply and possess an unapproved substance.''

The committee was likely to consider NBOMe at its next meeting, the Ministry said.

The drug is banned in Romania, the US, the United Kingdom, Israel, Sweden, Russia and Australia.

Haave you had any experiences with 'N-Bomb', or know anybody who has? Contact the Herald with your story here.

- APNZ

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