N-Bomb Drug Link to Teen Deaths: Part 1

It’s not often that Sherwood, Oregon — a small, quiet suburb located southwest of Portland — makes the front page news, especially for stories related to drugs.

But it did the first weekend of February 2014, when two teenage girls ended up in the hospital after using a dangerous and relatively new designer drug.

The drug — officially known as 25i-NBOMe — is most commonly referred to as simply “25I” or “N-Bomb.”  “Smiles” is another nickname for N-Bomb and other closely related substances.

Fortunately for the Oregon teens, an off-duty deputy sheriff spotted them on the roadside as one of the girls was having a seizure. He stopped and called an ambulance, only to have the other girl soon start seizing as well. These girls survived, but several other teens experimenting with the deadly LSD-like drug haven’t been as lucky. It’s been estimated that at least 19 deaths in the past couple of years are linked to the drug, including:

  • June 2012 — The death of North Dakota teen Christian Bjerk, who was found lying dead on the ground after a fatal reaction to 25I .
  • June 2012 — The death of 17-year-old Elijah Stai, who stopped breathing and ended up on life support after ingesting 25I mixed with chocolate.  The Minnesota teen died three days later, when his parents made the gut-wrenching decision to take him off life support.
  • October 2012 — The death of a 21-year-old Arkansas male, who reportedly used N-Bomb intranasally.
  • January 2013 — The death of Noah Carrasco, an 18-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona high school student.  He quickly lost consciousness after taking the deadly drug via nose drops that he thought contained LSD.
  • April 2013 — The death of an 18-year-old student attending Arizona State University, believed to be caused by the designer drug N-Bomb.
  • June 2013 — The death of 17-year-old Henry Kwan of Sydney, Australia, who threw himself out of a window and fell to his death after taking N-Bomb.
  • September 2013 — The death of a 17-year-old high school student in Pennsylvania. An overdose of the drug caused him to stop breathing, reportedly resulting in his death.
  • February 2014 — The death of Jake Harris, a 21-year-old U.K. lifeguard and father-to-be. Harris reportedly stabbed himself in the neck multiple times with broken glass after taking the drug.

Needless to say, the drug has the authorities — as well as many parents — very concerned. One of the biggest problems is that the drug is often sold as LSD. Although it’s similar to LSD in many ways, its effects can be significantly more dangerous.

Legal Issues Around N-Bomb

Unfortunately, designer drugs often slip through the cracks in terms of drug enforcement, making them legal until deemed otherwise by the authorities. With regards to N-Bomb, which had previously been legal, the fatalities linked to its use resulted in the Drug Enforcement Administration classifying it as a Schedule I controlled substance in October 2013. The authorities have not been lenient with those individuals who either sold or supplied the drug to those who have suffered or died from its effects.

In the case of the two girls from Oregon, an adolescent boy was taken into custody for allegedly supplying them with the drug.  A total of 15 individuals have been charged in connection to the deaths of Elijah Stai and Christian Bjerk, a law-enforcement endeavor that’s been aptly dubbed “Operation Stolen Youth.” Adam Budge, the 18 year-old friend who gave the drug to Stai, is facing murder charges for his death.  Charles Carlton, a 29-year-old man from Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty to numerous charges related to the two teens’ deaths, including possession with intent to distribute. He had sold the deadly drugs via his online business, Motion Resources.

A Potent Hallucinogen

N-Bomb is a hallucinogenic designer drug that is often likened to LSD, although some say that it’s up to 25 times more potent. Designer drugs are synthetically produced by altering the chemical structure of existing drugs, like cocaine or marijuana. They are meant to be used recreationally, and mimic the effects of the other drugs.  N-Bomb is actually derived from phenethylamine, commonly known as mescaline.  Mescaline is a natural substance found in the peyote cactus.  Mescaline’s use as a recreational drug became illegal in the U.S. in 1970, due to its psychedelic properties.

N-Bomb and other hallucinogens are known for causing powerfully altered perceptions, including brightly colored and widely distorted visual images.  Some users of the drug have described its effects as “Nirvana” and “ecstasy,” reporting “trips” very similar to those experienced with LSD.  As is typically the case with psychedelics, the unpredictable effects of N-Bomb have varied widely from one individual to the next.

Pleasurable Effects of N-Bomb

  • Euphoria
  • Bright moving colors and other vivid visual hallucinations
  • Spiritual “awakening”
  • A sense of profoundness
  • Positive mood
  • Enhanced awareness
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Loving feelings
  • Sexual sensations and enhanced desire

Side effects of N-Bomb

  • Psychosis
  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Agitation
  • Erratic behavior
  • Chills, flushing
  • Severe double vision
  • Teeth grinding, jaw clenching
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depressed mood
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Intense negative emotions
  • Paranoia
  • Intense anxiety
  • Muscle spasms and contractions
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired communication
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Swelling of feet, hands, face
  • Kidney damage / failure
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure
  • Coma
  • Asphyxiation

Read more in Part 2

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