HARRISBURG — A designer drug is believed to be responsible for the death of a Cumberland County high school student.
Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick said a 17-year-old Trinity High School student who died from an overdose last month had a psychedelic drug called 25I-NBOMe in his system.
“He died of asphyxia due to the drug,” Hetrick said. “He stopped breathing. That’s how he died. The National Medical Service does our toxicology and they picked it up because it was on the death certificate.”
25I-NBOMe is also known by the street names “N-bomb,” “251” and “smiles.” It is similar in effect to LSD and is sometimes mistaken as such, unbeknownst to the buyer. Reports of recreational use first began to appear in 2010 in Europe, the United States and Australia. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 25I-NBOMe has been described by chemists as “superpotent.” Because the drug is so new, however, little data can be found about its long-term effects and risks.
Across the nation, at least six deaths have been linked to its use. The drug currently is unregulated by federal law, but Louisiana, Florida and Virginia have been trying to ban it.
Authorities are also warning of a growing danger from another drug, Butane Hemp Oil, a highly concentrated derivative of marijuana that’s also known as “honey,” “shatter” and even “earwax.”
While there have been no fatalities associated with using the drug, the process used to extract and concentrate the compounds from marijuana involves highly flammable butane gas.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency bulletin earlier this year noted there have been fires and explosions that have caused numerous burns and blown out windows and walls.
Authorities in the Midstate are just beginning to deal with BHO and N-bomb. Hetrick said the synthetic drug market is often more rapid than law enforcement.
“The definition for insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results,” Hetrick said. “I believe we need to concentrate far more dollars into efforts in education and rehabilitation.”
Hetrick said users typically find a way to get their hands on new and dangerous drugs, but he added that the allure of an extreme high often comes with consequences worse than prison.
“It’s not like you’re buying this at a pharmacy,” he said. “You don’t know what it’s cut with. It could be fentanyl, it could be some sort of other corrupting material that will kill you very quickly.”