PORTSMOUTH -- A dangerous and sometimes deadly drug is becoming popular at parties with teenagers in Hampton Roads, according to police.
25i-NBOMe is the synthetic form of LSD. 19 people between the ages of 15 and 29 have died after taking it, although none in Hampton Roads - yet.
Police say it's here and young people are using it. It comes in liquid and powder form.
“It’s a fun looking drug and a lot of times the peer pressure gets kids to take this drug,” says Detective Misty Holley with the Portsmouth Police Department. “They’re known to be in big parties, whether it be a dorm party or frat party.”
18-year-old Noah Wadsworth was with friends and tried 25i for the first time. It would be his last.
“The guy said. 'I’ve seen this before. He had a bad hit, he just needs some air.' Then my son died in the back seat of his car,” she said from her home in Arizona.
Anthony Carlson, a straight A freshman at Arizona State University, also died.
It's a frightening situation. The side effects of NBOMe can range from hallucinations to seizures to death.
“They have no clue what they’re walking into,” says Dr. Brian Rubenstein, an emergency physician at Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center in Portsmouth.
Treating patients who overdose on synthetic drugs is tricky because there are no urine or blood tests to detect the drugs. Also, most of the synthetics are made in China, where lab conditions are not regulated, so each new batch of 25i coming into the U.S. can have different amounts of chemicals.
“The problem with synthetic drugs is they are always changing,” Rubenstein explained.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency banned 25i in November 2013 after more than a dozen deaths nationwide, but the drug makers are staying one step ahead of the law. Because of advances in science, the new chemicals now just take months or weeks to make.
“They may add a chemical or add two chemicals and change the name of the drug and it’s no longer this drug,” Det. Holley said.
Wadsworth is speaking out about 25i on awareness site Not My Kids.
“I'm trying to raise awareness about this issue in honor of my son. I find that it helps me, to feel like something good could come out of it.”