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Truth drug

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A truth drug (or truth serum) is a drug used for the purposes of obtaining accurate information from an unwilling subject, most often by a police, intelligence, or military organization on a prisoner. Effective truth drugs are mostly fictional, though some drugs have been shown to be effective in lowering the resistance (but sometimes also reliability) of an interrogated person.

Real-world use


Drugs used for this purpose have included ethanol, scopolamine, and the anaesthetic induction agent sodium thiopental (more commonly known as sodium pentothal); all sedatives that interfere particularly with judgment and higher cognitive function. While grain alcohol (ethanol) is used for this purpose by many individuals in a more innocent sense, it is used by professionals as well. A book by a former Soviet KGB officer based in Washington details the use of near-pure ethanol to verify that a Soviet agent was not compromised by U.S. counterintelligence services.[1]


Information obtained by publicly-disclosed truth drugs has been shown to be highly unreliable, with subjects apparently freely mixing fact and fantasy. Much of the claimed effect relies on the belief of the subject that they cannot tell a lie while under the influence of the drug.


  1. Washington station: my life as a KGB spy in America - Shvets, Yuri B; Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994

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