NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Synthetic substances like spice and bath salts are outlawed in North Carolina, but drug users have a new, legal option that's available.
Doctors are still learning about the NBOMe series of drugs, but they're quickly seeing the damage they can cause. Dr. Randall Willard is an emergency physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He's noticed an increase in possible overdose cases in the last couple of months.
"These things are definitely making people a lot more violent and sicker," he said.
There are several variations of the drug, like 25-I and 2-C-I. Sheriff's deputies arrested a man and a woman for child abuse at Fort Fisher on August 12. The adults, along with two juveniles, were allegedly hallucinating on 2-C-I.
Jeremy Leutgens of Wilmington faces criminal charges for the death of his girlfriend. The district attorney asserts Leutgens gave her two doses of 25-I, which led to her death.
These drugs have claimed more lives, according to Willard. He said the substance that's seemed to replace bath salts is much more dangerous.
"People weren't dying from bath salts, but they're dying from these new ones," Willard said.
The emergency room staff has treated a number of patients for seizures, stokes and heart attacks caused by drug use, according to Willard. He said several patients died from an overdose, but there's no telling what the survivors can expect.
"I don't know what any long-term effects are for the people who haven't died," said Willard.
The emergency room doctor said there's likely no stopping the designer drug loophole. Once the chemical compound of a drug is ruled illegal, the manufacturers change the formula enough to create a new, legal drug.