Neuropharmacology of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

Volume 32 of the series Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences pp 283-311


Pharmacology and Toxicology of N-Benzylphenethylamine (“NBOMe”) Hallucinogens

  • Adam L. HalberstadtAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California San DiegoResearch Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System Email author 

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Serotonergic hallucinogens induce profound changes in perception and cognition. The characteristic effects of hallucinogens are mediated by 5-HT2A receptor activation. One class of hallucinogens are 2,5-dimethoxy-substituted phenethylamines, such as the so-called 2C-X compounds 2,5-dimethoxy-4-bromophenethylamine (2C-B) and 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine (2C-I). Addition of an N-benzyl group to phenethylamine hallucinogens produces a marked increase in 5-HT2A-binding affinity and hallucinogenic potency. N-benzylphenethylamines (“NBOMes”) such as N-(2-methoxybenzyl)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine (25I-NBOMe) show subnanomolar affinity for the 5-HT2A receptor and are reportedly highly potent in humans. Several NBOMEs have been available from online vendors since 2010, resulting in numerous cases of toxicity and multiple fatalities. This chapter reviews the structure–activity relationships, behavioral pharmacology, metabolism, and toxicity of members of the NBOMe hallucinogen class. Based on a review of 51 cases of NBOMe toxicity reported in the literature, it appears that rhabdomyolysis is a relatively common complication of severe NBOMe toxicity, an effect that may be linked to NBOMe-induced seizures, hyperthermia, and vasoconstriction.


Head twitch response Locomotor activity Psychedelic Research chemical Serotonin syndrome