New figures showing a dramatic increase in the use of a fake LSD drug that has caused deaths overseas have been obtained by ONE News.
Experts met in Auckland today to discuss the latest illicit drug trends, including an expanding online marketplace.
"They're told it's LSD so the effects are very similar. But the real safety concern is that it's thousands of times more potent," says Dr Chris Wilkins a senior researcher from Massey University.
The illegal substance is soaring in popularity with the number of police seizures of hallucinogens like N-Bomb skyrocketing from 1200 four years ago to almost 27,000 last year.
It's a worrying trend confronting the experts at the Massey University conference today.
"It's an emerging drug in New Zealand, so at the border certainly the seizures of 25i NBOMe (a psychedelic drug) have been increasing exponentially," says Dr Wilkins.
An Australian teenager using the fake LSD jumped off a building to his death two years ago, and it has been linked to deaths in North America too.
"Because of the amphetamine component they are very very strong, so they're thrashing out, trying to hit the demon they are seeing," says Dr Paul Quigley, an emergency medicines specialist.
The drug can cause hallucinations, high blood pressure, kidney and liver failure, seizures, nausea and vomiting and psychosis.
Dr Quigley has seen a sharp rise in patients on the drug, and says it can take up to five people to restrain and sedate these patients.
"They're seeing the great praying mantis that rules the world, and purple smurfs," he says.
Massey University research shows users are increasingly turning to the internet to buy drugs like N-Bomb.
N-Bomb is currently an illegal psychoactive substance carrying a $500 fine for possession.
But it's set to be re-classifed a high-risk drug to give police powers to impose tougher penalties.
"Assuming I get the report that I'm expecting from the Expert Advisory Committee, in a few short weeks they'll have stricter powers under the Misuse of Drugs Act," says Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
But it has taken more than three years to classify and with up to 100 new synthetic drugs emerging each year the problem is an ongoing headache for authorities.