(CBS) - A new trend in psychedelic drugs is raising concerns after three teenage girls had to be hospitalized in Loudoun County, Va. last weekend. The girls, ages 13 to 18 years old, were found to have taken an LSD-like designer drug that goes by the names 25i, Nbomb or Smiles.
Police say it's a dangerous narcotic that first gives the user a euphoric feeling, but can then cause disorientation and violent behavior, and has even led to a number of deaths.
Fairfax County Police have seen a handful of cases over the past few years, according to Lt. Tony Matos, Assistant Commander of the narcotics division. The cases all involved teens or young adults, he says.
"It starts off as tachycardia -- fast heart rates," Matos explained to CBS affiliate WUSA9. "It starts off with a lot of sweating, maybe even some nausea and vomiting. But ultimately, it will lead to very aggressive, violent behavior, and ultimately it will lead to death."
Matos says the drug comes in a powder form which is turned into a liquid which is applied to blotter paper. The paper is then cut into small pieces and used by placing it on the tongue or in the mouth. The drug can also affect people who touch it because it can be absorbed through the skin.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently classified 25i as a Schedule I narcotic, the most dangerous drugs with high risk of dependence and potential for abuse.
The DEA reports the drug is sold illegally online, and the compound is more potent than other hallucinogenic compounds, even in small doses. According to the federal agency, the compound has been linked to the deaths of at least 19 Americans aged 15 to 29 between March of 2012 and August of 2013. The DEA has made 25i illegal for at least the next two years. In that time it will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to determine if the drug should be made permanently illegal.
As with other designer narcotics, there is no standard for manufacturing; potency can vastly differ among batches, which means there is a higher risk for overdosing. The drug, which is primarily sold online, costs between $5 and $10 per dose.
In a 2013 testimony to a U.S. Senate panel, Joseph T. Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator for the office of diversion control at DEA, explained that the drug's potency level -- measured in micrograms rather than milligrams -- makes it extremely dangerous to new users. "Lack of knowledge about this drug was likely at least partially responsible for 14 deaths that occurred in a 14-month time span between 2012 and 2013," he wrote.