Bath salts haven't gone away. Just this week, a California smoke shop owner was arrested with half a ton of the stuff. But with a federal crackdown and heightened awareness of their face-eating side effects, their use (or at least the panicked reporting on it) is on the decline.
Now filling the void is N-Bomb, a newish, LSD-like designer drug that offers users a cheap and, until the Drug Enforcement Agency banned it last month, legal high. Like its predecessors, it's often sold at convenience stores under various product labels (e.g. "Smiles" and "251") and on the Internet. Also like its predecessors, it can have terrifying side effects.
The Dallas Morning News has a thoroughly depressing piece this morning on Montana Sean Brown, a 15-year-old freshman at Frisco's Heritage High School who died on Saturday morning after he and his two brothers experimented with N-Bomb or one of its derivatives.
According to the paper he and his brothers, 16 and 20, had consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms last summer and enjoyed the experience. When they couldn't find them this past weekend, they bought some weed and what they thought was LSD but which the parents now believe was N-Bomb.
The origins of N-Bomb are innocent enough. It was first developed a decade ago by a German pharmacology student researching a specific brain receptor linked to hallucination. But once the drug began being used for recreational purposes, and once shady entrepreneurs like these guys profiled earlier this year in the Houston Press began marketing it to consumers, the injuries and deaths started piling up.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.