The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has blamed at least 19 deaths since March 2012 on a synthetic drug known as N-bomb. The drug mimics the hallucinogenic and euphoria-inducing effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Its most common street name comes from a series of the chemical ingredients that make it up, N-BOMe, although it is also sometimes referred to as Smiles. One of the most disturbing features of N-bomb is its apparent ability to attract young people into experimenting with it. All of the 19 confirmed casualties associated with the synthetic drug have been people between the ages of 15 and 29, and N-bomb is known to be used among teenagers as young as middle school age. Furthermore, the drug appears to be packaged and sold in ways that are playful and appealing to younger people. Like LSD, N-bomb is usually distributed on blotter paper, and this blotter paper is frequently decorated with images of clowns or the like. This packaging helps to reinforce the misconception that N-bomb is a fun way to experiment and not potentially harmful.
More Dangerous Than LSD
Most doctors and drug enforcement investigators agree that N-bomb poses a greater threat to young people, and to the general population, than LSD. This is due in large part to the strength of the drug, which can be potent enough to kill with a single dose. But it is also due to the availability of the drug, which can be manufactured relatively easily by anyone with a working knowledge of practical chemistry. Because the effects it produces are comparable, N-bomb is often pushed as being similar to LSD, and may even be sold as LSD by some dealers. In reality, N-bomb carries a much higher risk of lethality than LSD. While the effects of a large amount of LSD certainly carry risks – there are even cases of people never recovering from acid-induced psychosis – it is almost impossible to die directly from an LSD overdose. In contrast, young people have died from single doses of N-bomb. Even people who have taken N-bomb without serious harm may encounter a fatal dose the next time they try to use the drug because the formula varies so much. Numerous manufacturers and attempts to evade law enforcement are largely responsible for the unpredictability of this drug. Some batches of N-bomb are believed to be imported from China, but amateur chemists in the United States are also producing batches. These manufacturers frequently adjust their formulas in attempts to stay one step ahead of drug investigators, and these constant changes, in addition to the large number of manufacturers, make it difficult to know how strong any single dose might be.
A Major Challenge for Law Enforcement
Drugs like N-bomb are part of a series of synthetic drugs with relatively simple formulas that are being constantly adjusted in order to confuse law enforcement. So far, this strategy has been remarkably successful, and drug enforcement officials have struggled to stay on top of changing formulas in order to help them identify and cut off the sources of these drugs. Like LSD, N-bomb and similar synthetic drugs have been declared Schedule I controlled substances by the DEA. This is the strictest classification – drugs in this category are considered to be very dangerous and to have no medical benefits. Drug enforcement officials and medical professionals alike want to spread the word that N-bomb is different from LSD and in many ways more dangerous. They want young people to be aware of the dangers and avoid any temptation to try this drug. Furthermore, they want people who are interested in purchasing LSD – which has a reputation for being relatively harmless despite its Schedule I classification – to be aware that N-bomb and other drugs are being sold on the streets as LSD.