Testing for Synthetic LSD
Drug Testing for Synthetic LSD (NBOMe)
NBOMe is a new class of designer drug currently available on the internet through websites like “Silk Road” and many others.
They are a potent hallucinogen and are often sold as a “legal” LSD. Unlike LSD however, NBOMe is a strong stimulant which accounts for its increased toxicity.
The most commonly seen derivatives are 25B-NBOMe, 25I-NBOMe and 25C-NBOMe. Currently 25B-NBOMe appears to be the most widely manufactured. It is sold under various names including Smiles, N-bomb, 25B, Cimbi-5 and Solaris.
The correct chemical name for 25B-NBOMe is 2-(4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-N-[(2methoxyphenyl) methylethanamine and was discovered in 2004 by a German chemist called Ralf Heim.
Prior to 2004, variations of this compound were popular in the 1990’s as a substitute for ecstasy.The drug acts as a potent partial agonist for the 5HT2A receptor which accounts for its potent hallucinogenic effect and is active at concentrations as low as 250-500ug.
The duration of effects appears to be up to 16 hours post ingestion. Its activity at such low concentrations significantly increases the risk of overdose and harmful side-effects.
The 5HT2A receptor is known to be linked to complex activity like working memory and cognitive processes and its abnormal function is said to impact on conditions like schizophrenia and depression.
Very little is known about how addictive these compounds are, nor the long term side effects. There have been numerous reported cases of severe poisoning and fatal intoxications as well as people engaging in dangerous behaviour (some fatal) after taking NBOMe.
NBOMe is usually smoked or swallowed. It is most commonly purchased over the internet as a tablet or wafer. A recent AMJ review of online marketplaces indicated that NBOMe tabs are available for purchase in Australia containing 1200 μg, yet as little as 200–1000 μg may be considered an effective oral dose’.
Users of NBOMe have reported experiencing symptoms including psychotic episodes, seizures, hypothermia, heart palpitations and nausea. Hallucinations, agitation, and paranoia are also widely seen as side effects of taking this drug.
Misadventure, sometimes resulting in death, has been a recurring theme from NBOMe ingestion. In the past 12 months in Australia, there have been two widely reported instances of young men jumping off their apartment building balconies. These deaths are in addition to another death from heart failure after taking NBOMe.
NBOMe cannot be detected using the drug detection cups currently available in Australia. As with all drugs, the detection of the metabolites, rather than the parent compound is critical. Currently the only reliable way to detect this compound is using Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS).
There are no reported statistics available in Australia related to use/abuse of NBOMe, however Google Trends (which measures volume of search traffic) shows that increase in interest started in 2012 and has continued to increase to this current day.
Based on data from both the USA and Europe, use of NBOMe is largely confined to young men under the age of 40.
NBOMe is cheap, easily available and is promoted as being “legal”. These factors alone will ensure that usage of this drug will increase and become an increasing problem for both the police and employers.
Source: Safe Work Laboratories
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