Teenagers are being used as 'guinea pigs' to test lethal substances
Irish teenagers are allowing themselves to be used as "human guinea pigs" to test lethal hallucinogenic drugs cooked up in Eastern European underground labs.
Medical experts have warned that young drug users are taking dangerous risks by 'loading up' on substances such as 2CB and N-bomb. These are used to try to get a faster 'hit'.
The death of Cork teenager Alex Ryan is believed to be the first Irish victim of the hallucinogenic drug N-bomb.
His death has sparked fears that highly dangerous, super-strong concoctions are now infiltrating Ireland. Substances such as 2CB purport to heighten the user's senses, increase energy levels and provide a warm feeling of well-being.
However, they can also cause people to become seriously ill and seem 'possessed' or crazed.
When purchased, 2CB often comes as part of an ecstasy 'party pack'. It is mainly available in tiny 5mg purple capsules, but can be sold as white powder or small pills. It is often taken in combination with other rave drugs, such as ecstasy.
At low doses, the effects are said to be similar to those of ecstasy. At higher doses, the effects are more like those of LSD.
Doses higher than 40mg have been reported to bring on extremely frightening hallucinations.
Chemicals are smuggled from certain Asian countries to underground laboratories in Europe, mostly in Holland and the Balkan countries.
Some users are of the belief that 'better' versions of a type of illegal drugs - such as ecstasy pills - are then sent to Ireland, giving rise to the presumption that they are 'tried and tested'.
However, manufacturers experiment with various ingredients, adding different chemicals to alter the compound or increasing the amount of substances put into the mix.
Then the pills make their way to Ireland, where young people buy them, believing they have passed some kind of quality-control test.
In fact, Irish users may be taking a version of a drug that has never been used before.
This means that drug-taking has now become a game of 'Russian roulette'.
While many drugs are available from street dealers, the internet is the main source for a galaxy of suspect-looking pills and powders, which are wrapped in eye-catching packaging.
And because there are hundreds of new 'highs' on the market, there are simply too many drugs for the State to regulate.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dr Greg Murphy, of the Rochestown Clinic in Cork, stressed that there was no quality control with regard to these substances.
He explained: "They're slow in and slow out, which means it takes four hours to get the maximum hallucinogenic buzz. Therefore, users load up because they don't get the hit quickly enough.
"They think they haven't taken enough, so they consume even more. The drugs are synthesised by Eastern European backstreet chemists and imported here to unsuspecting kids.
"2CB and H-bomb are new to this country. There are new chemicals coming on board by the month, so it's a legal grey area. Introducing effective legislation remains a minefield."