Also referred to as Devil’s Breath, scopolamine is a natural and synthetically produced tropane alkaloid and anticholinergic drug, meaning it’s used to treat motion sickness and postoperative nausea and vomiting. It’s also sometimes used before surgery to decrease salivary production. It’s well-known as one of the oldest plant-derived alkaloids, and despite the fact that it’s considered an essential medication by the World Health Organization, scopolamine’s side effects have led to the drug’s more common title as the world’s most dangerous drug.
How Does Scopolamine Work?
Scopolamine was first isolated in 1880 by German scientist Albert Landenburg, but it’s believed to have been around during prehistoric times, during which it may have been used in herbal preparations. More recently, however, scopolamine has been used for various medicinal purposes, including motion sickness, seasickness, postoperative nausea and vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastrointestinal problems.
Also known by the brand name Transderm Scop, scopolamine works by blocking the effects of a natural substance called acetylcholine in the central nervous system. This is the chief neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system. The purpose of this system is to conserve energy to later use it to regulate bodily functions like digestion and urination.
Scopolamine is usually used as a transdermal patch that’s placed on the skin to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness or anesthetic medication post-operation. Transdermal patches deliver the medication through the skin and are often more effective for patients who struggle to take pills.
Scopolamine Patch Side Effects
Scopolamine’s side effects stem from the medication’s effect on acetylcholine. Acetylcholine has many functions and is released from cholinergic nerve synapses and acts on transmitters and acetylcholine receivers. Acetylcholine plays a major role in regulating blood pressure as well as contracting smooth muscles, causing erections, slowing heart rate, stimulating secretions, and abnormal muscle function.
However, as with any drug, there are various adverse side effects of scopolamine to consider. These adverse effects lie in the substance’s root – literally. Scopolamine is made from the Borrachero tree, which is native to Colombia. A rough translation of Borrachero is “drunken binge,” which is a mild description of what this drug can do.
Similar to the drug Flakka, when extracted as a powder from the tree and consumed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin in large doses, scopolamine side effects are referred to as “temporary zombification.” Common side effects of a scopolamine patch include:
- Dry mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Sore throat
- Lack of free will
- Inhibited judgment
- Memory loss
- Powerful and terrifying hallucinations
- Unconsciousness lasting up to 24 hours
These side effects are so strong that scopolamine has been used, at times, by governments as a “truth serum” during interrogations. Cases of scopolamine poisoning and abuse are especially common in Colombia. It’s often used to commit crimes like robbery, kidnapping, and sexual assault.
Additionally, because the drug is known to incapacitate users, scopolamine is often used as a date rape drug by both men and women either in an attempt to commit sexual assault or to rob the victim. In the U.S., some drug enthusiasts experiment with Devil’s Breath because of its euphoric and hallucinatory properties. The drug is also commonly used as a date rape drug in the U.S.
Scopolamine Patch Side Effects After Removal
It’s common for the body to undergo withdrawal when the person has stopped using scopolamine patches after long-term use. Common scopolamine side effects (after removal) include:
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Slow heart rate
These side effects usually occur within 24 hours after stopping this medication. These symptoms are a sign that your body is adjusting to being off the medication. Any adverse reactions should be reported to your doctor right away.
Considering that scopolamine is a commonly abused drug in party and club scenes, addiction is an additional possible side effect of long-term use. If you or a loved one has shown signs of scopolamine addiction or addiction to other illicit or prescription drugs, our Banyan Stuart rehab center is here to help.
We offer both illicit and prescription pill addiction treatment that utilizes both detox and psychotherapy to address all aspects of substance use disorders. Starting off with medically monitored detox, our goal is to ensure that clients are comfortable and motivated to continue their programs once they’ve recovered from withdrawals.