Media jumps the gun to fearmonger about ‘LSD overdoses’ in Pennsylvania
Last weekend, three students at Villanova University, near Philadelphia, were hospitalized for “LSD overdoses.” This led to the arrests of two young men: roommates Justin Yim, 18, and Daniel Jin, 19. Jin was among those hospitalized, and he was also charged with assault for an alleged attack on campus. Yim was not on-scene when the chaos broke out, but was later arrested for distribution.
Local media have been quick to categorize the event as “LSD overdoses,” but there might be more at play than has been reported.
That three people would react so severely to a genuine dose of LSD—and nothing else—is possible yet unlikely. An unpredictable range of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are frequently sold as, or mixed in with, more “traditional” drugs. So fully analyzing the drugs ingested is imperative to understanding what really happened to these students.
Radnor Township Police Lieutenant Christopher Flanagan tells The Influence that a field test of the confiscated substance tested “presumptively positive for LSD,” adding that the results indicate “nothing about the grade, quality, or potency.” He says the test is “very preliminary.”
The field test that they used tested only for LSD, the Radnor Township Police confirm, and would not detect the presence of other drugs that might have caused such a severe adverse reaction. They did not elaborate on what type of test they used to examine the substance (which would help indicate how precise the results are), but said their investigation is not over. A state lab will perform a full chemical analysis, and the department may subpoena the medical records of those hospitalized. But Lieutenant Flanagan does not expect those results to be ready for another month.
“I think we can say that we had an unusual occurrence of people allegedly ingesting LSD, with severe reactions, or severe behavioral reactions to it,” Lieutenant Flanagan says. “Every person had to be taken to the hospital. Some people were attacking people—so I mean, this is not normal behavior. Obviously something occurred, but we don’t have all the details yet.”
“It could have been a bizarre combination of different things,” he continues. “We don’t want to speculate that it was particularly this LSD, but certainly this particular batch of LSD is subject to more analysis to figure out what happened.”
Until that analysis takes place, reports of “LSD overdoses” are not as precise as they sound.