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The Devil’s Breath: The Most Perilous Drug in The World?

By Maawiya Mohammed

In this world, nearly every aspect has its pros and cons. Whether it's water, technology, education, religion, individuals, or anything else for that matter. Take food, for instance. While it's essential for nourishment, nutrition, and energy, excessive consumption can lead to obesity and other health issues. Similarly, medication, including scopolamine, has its complexities.

Referred to as the most hazardous drug globally by the Daily Mail, scopolamine, also known as the ‘devil’s breath,’ is derived from plants of the Solenaceae family such as nightshade, jimsonweed, and henbane. These plants boast deceptively beautiful flowers resembling downward-facing lamps. Medically, in modest doses, scopolamine is utilized to manage motion sickness, preoperative nausea and vomiting, and for preoperative sedation. It can be administered orally or via transdermal patches, facilitating absorption through the skin into the bloodstream.

While its chemical name might sound mundane, uttering the term 'devil’s breath' can evoke fear in those who hear it. Criminals exploit scopolamine to defraud individuals of their valuables. They blow it in victims' faces, make physical contact, or engage in social greetings, inducing rapid submission and compliance. Victims find themselves carrying out the perpetrators' bidding, often without recollection afterward.

Using high doses, criminals exploit scopolamine's severe side effects, including extreme confusion, hallucinations, excessive drowsiness, and blurred vision, rendering victims vulnerable. This drug surpasses the danger posed by popular ‘mchele’ drugs such as stillnox, rohypnol, and valium. While 'mchele' gang ladies might rob individuals after they have knocked them unconscious, victims under the influence of the devil’s breath willingly surrender belongings as if hosting a charity event in their backyard, obediently acquiescing to perpetrators' demands. Combine the aspect of giving up free will with the fact that the drug was used during World War II as a truth serum to aid in interrogations and you might be more scared to walk the streets.

In Kenya, numerous scopolamine-related drugging cases were reported in 2022, particularly in Isiolo County, where traders fell victim, surrendering entire stocks to robbers. Disturbingly, one victim willingly disclosed her M-Pesa PIN, resulting in a loss of over Sh60,000 from her account.

However, robbery is not the only offense that might be facilitated by scopolamine. The drug may enable more egregious acts such as sexual assault, human trafficking, or organ theft if left unchecked and in the wrong hands.

Consequently, stringent regulations governing the sale and purchase of scopolamine are imperative to effectively control the misuse of scopolamine and mitigate its associated risks.

So, the next time you see a stranger approaching, exercise caution. Beware, lest the devil’s breath be upon you.