What does it take to earn the title of world's scariest drug? The ability to make a person immune to pain and ignorant of even the most debilitating of injuries? Altering a person's consciousness to make them believe anything and everything is possible? Maybe just the ability to turn a person big, green, and angry like the Hulk. What about a drug that absolutely takes away your free will, leaving you conscious and helpless to every outside suggestion? A drug that gives others complete mind control over you. Scopolamine does just that.
Like a real life Imperius curse from the world of Harry Potter, scopolamine has the ability to make you completely weak to the power of suggestion. This drug originates from one of the biggest drug capitols in the world—Columbia. It is the ultimate weapon of criminal organizations in Columbia, both revered as a tool by them and feared as a weapon against them. It is known as "Devil's Breath" in Columbia and can be found from a commonly found tree known as an Borrachero tree.
While the Borrachero tree grows wild in both rural and urban parts of Columbia, the locals always warn their children to never sleep under the deceptively beautiful flowers. Scopolamine is made from the seeds of the tree, which can be found littering the streets, but even the pollen of the flower can conjure up strange dreams.
What does Scopolamine do?
In simple terms, scopolamine leaves you conscious and susceptible to suggestion in small doses, but in large doses can render you instantly unconscious or even dead. After the drug wears off, you are left with no memory of what you have been up to since the dosage.
In the brain, memories are made through a chemical called acetylcholine. When scopolamine is introduced to the system, it competes with acetylcholine and almost always wins. When it wins, it blocks the chemical receptors so that memories cannot be formed. Even after the drug wears off, the victims will have extreme short term memory issues for some time to come, some never recover. They will be rendered unable to remember what they had for breakfast the previous morning, or forget things they were doing at the time.
The drug removes our free will by stimulating the amygdala gland in our brain which controls our fight-or-flight response. When this gland is effected by certain stimuli, it shuts off the cognitive parts of our brain so the amygdala can take immediate action. It reacts just enough to shut off cognitive faculties, but not make a person fly into a rage or run like the dickens. It essentially renders you an emotionless zombie. Those who have observed victims of scopolamine, even those that have known them for years, are unable to tell that they are in anyway drugged or tipsy. That is what makes it so dangerous.
What do Criminals do with the Drug?
As one could imagine, the possible uses for Scopolamine are endless. Stories have been told of criminals using it to tell a person to withdraw their life savings from an ATM and help them move all their belongs into a back of a truck. Street children use it to rob houses of food. Men use it to rape women. Women use it to rob men. The drug is extremely popular among people in bars. They start off drinking with friends, but after they get a person alone, they drug and take advantage of them.
Scopolamine can be administered in almost any way possible. It comes in a powder almost identical to cocaine. It can be sprinkled in drinks, dissolving almost instantly. Rubbed on paper and smeared over a person's face, even added onto chewing gum and given to tourists. However, the most popular method is to blow it right into someone's' face.
When ingested or inhaled, the effect is almost instant. Scopolamine has slight hallucinogenic effects, so while you are helping your captor rob you blind, you can't be sure what you are seeing is reality or not. There is no testimony on what kind of hallucinations people see because their memory is wiped blind after that.
All this for a drug that can be made from seeds you find on the street or bought in powders that cost about $3 or $4 dollars, which is around 40 pesos in Columbia.
Scopolamine as a Truth Serum
Before it was used by criminals for their going-ons about town. Scopolamine was used by physicians, along with chloroform to induce a twilight sleep state in women when going through childbirth. While under the influence of the drug, the women suffered less pain, so naturally it seemed like a viable medical option. The women, however, did experience the traditional effects of the drug—disorientation, hallucinations, and of course amnesia after the drug wore off.
In 1916, a rural Texan doctor discovered another odd effect. When he asked a new mother who was still under the effects of the drug some questions, she always gave exact and absolutely truthful answers. Scopolamine was eventually found to have some residual effects on newborns, so the practice of using it to ease the pain of childbirth died out in the 1960's.
After the discovery of scopolamine producing truthful answers, the CIA began to use the drug as a means of interrogation. So thus, before the drug was used by criminals, it was used on them.
While those that were interrogated with the drug uttered the true facts, there was also quite a bit of hallucination involved, so courts eventually had to rule these confessions inadmissible in court. The CIA has never formally admitted to stopping this practice, so who knows if they still do it on terror suspects to this day.
The Dangers of Scopolamine
While the immediate dangers of the drug are obvious, there are a few complications that can occur when the body is introduced to the drug. Like with cocaine, scopolamine can cause rapid heartbeat and stress on the body. There are stories of the elderly and those with bad hearts being introduced to small amounts of the drug and dropping dead of a heart attack immediately.
As the drug only has an effect per dose of about 4 hours, victims who have a lot of stuff to do with their captors often need to be introduces to more doses. As they build a tolerance, which happens especially quickly if they victim used drugs like cocaine regularly before that, the more of the drug they will need. Some people have been known to have their hearts fail after multiple doses due to exhaustion.
So on that note, what do you the readers think? Is scopolamine truly the world's scariest drug. Even more feircesome than methamphetamine or Russia's new walking corpse creating Krokodil?