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Author Topic: Sleeping medications  (Read 11319 times)

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Laura S

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Sleeping medications
« on: September 14, 2013, 11:09:46 PM »

I have a quickie question.  I've written a novel where the victim is poisoned by sleeping medications.  Well, actually both are. 

The first is accidental.  The killer wanted to put the victim to sleep.  However, the victim woke up a little early, and groggily tried to stop the killer from stealing something.  The victim stumbled on a staircase (chasing the killer) and fell to his death.  This is before the book opens, but it sets up the rest of the book (and series).

The second is intentional.  The killer decided outright to kill the second victim, and poisoned him with the sleeping medications. 

My question (brought up by a critiquer) is whether sleeping meds would have a bitter taste when put into something to drink.  If so, I need to know this!  I'd need to alter my methods of murder, which would make it difficult, as the first one needs to be accidental.

I do occasionally take the lowest dose Temazepam, although I'm out and have been for some time (only take when I have a round of hormonally-induced insomnia, which I haven't had for a while, thank God!!), but I've considered getting a prescrip and trying it. 

If no one knows whether they're bitter or not, I may open a capsule and dump the powder into a cup of coffee and see if I can taste it.  Also a glass of wine (no, don't worry, not enough to affect anything.  I'd simply take a sip to see about the taste).  I may try it over a few days with several different beverages if I can taste it in coffee.

I'm hoping, though, that someone can help me with the info rather than having to experiment. 

Laura S
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Dave Freas

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2013, 03:03:00 PM »

Let me do some research and get back to you in a day or two.

Dave
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Dave Freas

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2013, 11:09:09 AM »

Hi, Laura.

You're facing some more serious problems than whether temazepam is bitter if you hope to kill your victim with it.

The first you're going to run into is temazepam is only sparingly soluble in alcohol which means much of the active drug in each capsule your killer dumps into the victim's pinot noir will settle to the bottom.  So your killer will have to empty a huge number of capsules into many glasses of wine to get enough into solution and have your victim drink those many glasses of wine to kill him or her.
Plus there are inert ingredients in the capsule with the temazepam and some of them will not dissolve in alcohol either.  So your killer will have to filter out the gunk that settles to the bottom of the glass.  Would you drink a glass of wine with a bunch of white stuff in the bottom of the glass?
A third problem is the lethal dose of temazepam.  You'd need approximately 2000mg/kg (2.2Lb) of body weight to pull that off.  For a 110Lb(50kg) woman, that's 100,000mg or almost 3400(!) 30mg capsules of temazepam.

Alprazolam (Xanax), estazolam (ProSom), triazolam (Halcion), and quarazepam (Doral) are also soluble in alcohol but are only available in tablet formulations and will also have inert ingredients that will settle to the bottom of the glass.

Flurazepam (Dalmane) is soluble in alcohol (and water, so your killer can put it in the victim's coffee) but you still have the problem of inert ingredients inside the capsule.

Except for clorazepate (Tranxene), flurazepam (Dalmane), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium) none of the other common benzodiazepines (the group of drugs that includes temazepam) are soluble in water.  Clorazepate and chlordiazepoxide, however, are unstable in water and may break down in to inert compounds.

So you're pretty much out of luck using any benzodiazepine to kill someone (unless you mix it with massive amounts of alcohol or your victim is especially sensitive to the action of these drugs).

A more effective alternative might be one of the narcotics like oxycodone (highly soluble in water), codeine, or morphine mixed with alcohol.
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Laura S

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2013, 04:39:20 PM »

Using another drug would be okay if the first death wasn't a complete accident.  In the first death, the killer meant only to knock out the victim so the killer could steal something.  This wouldn't happen with a pain killer.  The killer simply wanted to put the victim to sleep for a while.

It seems I need to go back to the drawing board completely with my manner of death.  Now I have to come up with something that could be administered to someone without their knowledge that would put them to sleep, and in higher doses could kill.

Thanks for the heads up on the particulate issue with the coffee, et al.
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Dave Freas

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2013, 06:03:07 PM »

Using another drug would be okay if the first death wasn't a complete accident.  In the first death, the killer meant only to knock out the victim so the killer could steal something.  This wouldn't happen with a pain killer.  The killer simply wanted to put the victim to sleep for a while.
Actually, a narcotic pain killer would work, and probably better.  Both narcotics and sleeping medications (and several other groups of drugs) are central nervous system depressants and can cause the grogginess you desire.  Maybe a skeletal muscle relaxant like Soma (carisoprodol) or Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) could work.  Codeine (a narcotic) doesn't make me sleepy but I took Flexeril one time for muscle spasms and they flat knocked me out.  I slept 16 hours after taking the first dose!

Quote
It seems I need to go back to the drawing board completely with my manner of death.  Now I have to come up with something that could be administered to someone without their knowledge that would put them to sleep, and in higher doses could kill.
No, your original idea could work.  If both victims are taking say a mild tranquilizer, knocking back a couple glasses of wine (or a cup of Joe) laced with a sleeping medication or narcotic could knock them for a loop.  If your victims are sensitive to drugs in the same family as the sleeping pills, mixing booze and a couple different CNS depressant drugs could lead to an enhanced effect - a greater response than would be expected.  Instead of doubling the dose making the person twice as drowsy, it makes them 4 times as drowsy.

Quote
Thanks for the heads up on the particulate issue with the coffee, et al.
Happy to help.  If you have more questions, fire away!

Dave
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Laura S

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 06:08:16 AM »

Narcotics have varied effects on different folks.  One person Codeine will knock out (my sister), the next it will make hyper (me).  One person Soma/Flexeril will knock out (you), the next will simply yawn more and be sluggish (me).  It's too iffy.  The killer isn't someone with a ton of medical knowledge, so whether or not a victim has a higher tolerance or less of one can't be part of the killer's method.

How about this?  What if the killer mixes the sleeping meds into no-bake cookies (if you're not familiar with them, it's chocolate, peanut butter and a tad of coconut (optional), and you don't bake them, so there's no high heat to alter the drug's make-up) to take to the victim to put him to sleep.  The flavors of the sugar and chocolate would mask any bitter taste in the meds, and it would be irrelevant whether or not there were particulates.  The powder would simply mix into the cookie mix.

For the intentional murder (second victim), I've decided to go with daffodil bulbs (often mistaken for onions in accidental poisonings) which are highly poisonous.  The killer will cook him a nice home-cooked meal as a make-up gesture and take it to him.  Reaction to daffodil poisoning is rapid and there is no specific antidote.  If the victim eats enough (which isn't a terribly high amount), death ensues.  This way I don't have to find a way to administer a huge amount of sleeping meds to kill him.  And I can tie the daffodils back to the killer easily.
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Dave Freas

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2013, 09:44:24 AM »

You're right, abnormal responses are possible with all drugs and predicting them is almost impossible.  So the only 'sure fire' way your killer could use a narcotic or tranquilizer to off his victims would be if he killer knew them and they had told him, "I can't take Soma (or whatever); it wipes me out."

The temazepam in the no-bake cookies could work but you're still going to need a hefty dose to put your first victim in groggy city.  I'd suggest at least one 15 or 30mg capsule per cookie and make sure your victim eats at least 2.  A little wine on top wouldn't hurt either.

(An aside here:  Brand names of drugs should be capitalized and their generic names shouldn't be.)

The daffodil bulbs are a good choice, too.  Another point in their favor is unless the ME or police had reason to suspect she was poisoned, they would not order a tox screen to search for possible agents, would only screen for commonly fatal drugs.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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Picaroon

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 11:06:49 AM »

Hi,

I'm a little late to the party here but the thread is interesting.  No matter how tasteless a drug is supposed to be, I would think someone would detect it in their favorite drink. If someone even 'thought' about putting something in my coffee I would probably taste it!   

So the key might be for the murderer to give them a drink they have never had before.  What about herbal teas? All of them taste terrible and bitter, and there are hundreds of them available (can you tell I'm a coffee drinker?).  So maybe the killer can prepare them a specialty tea they haven't had before?  The victim would have no idea of how it *should* taste..


I have a quickie question.  I've written a novel where the victim is poisoned by sleeping medications.  Well, actually both are. 

The first is accidental.  The killer wanted to put the victim to sleep.  However, the victim woke up a little early, and groggily tried to stop the killer from stealing something.  The victim stumbled on a staircase (chasing the killer) and fell to his death.  This is before the book opens, but it sets up the rest of the book (and series).

The second is intentional.  The killer decided outright to kill the second victim, and poisoned him with the sleeping medications. 

My question (brought up by a critiquer) is whether sleeping meds would have a bitter taste when put into something to drink.  If so, I need to know this!  I'd need to alter my methods of murder, which would make it difficult, as the first one needs to be accidental.

I do occasionally take the lowest dose Temazepam, although I'm out and have been for some time (only take when I have a round of hormonally-induced insomnia, which I haven't had for a while, thank God!!), but I've considered getting a prescrip and trying it. 

If no one knows whether they're bitter or not, I may open a capsule and dump the powder into a cup of coffee and see if I can taste it.  Also a glass of wine (no, don't worry, not enough to affect anything.  I'd simply take a sip to see about the taste).  I may try it over a few days with several different beverages if I can taste it in coffee.

I'm hoping, though, that someone can help me with the info rather than having to experiment. 

Laura S
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mcCarthy88

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 07:54:03 PM »

Hi Laura,

Once again, sorry for the later reply. I'm a medical student so i should be able to offer some (sub)expertise.

Dave is right in saying that the quantities of any benzodiazepene required to kill would be difficult to dissolve in any drink. Likewise, your victim would need to eat at least 2 cookies to get a decent amount of sedation. Also, sorry to rain on your parade, but you'd need a lot of daffodil bulbs to be sure of a death in your victim as well!

However, I think that several barbiturates might work in your story. I would suggest that pentobarbital or phenobarbital would be good candidates. Just 10g of liquid pentobarbital (two teaspoons) would be a lethal dose, and although it does taste quite bitter, this would likely be disguised by any strongly flavoured drink, like strong coffee, whisky or strong wine. And a much lower dose (0.5-1g) could be used by a criminal to sedate their victim without necessarily killing them. This small amount wouldn't alter the taste of it. And they'd certainly be groggy when they woke up!

The plot difficulty may be in how the killer obtains liquid pentobarbital, as barbiturates as a whole aren't prescribed these days for sleep problems - because it's so easy to overdose on them (how Marilyn Monroe met her end, out of interest)! I do know that some pet shops in Mexico sell it under the brand name Nembutal as a drug for animal euthanasia, as it's been reported that a number of pro-euthanasia activists have travelled there in order to use the drug to help a relative commit a painless suicide. For further detail - barbiturates would definitely show up in any post-mortem tox screen, as they're a common drug of abuse.

I hope that's in some way helpful,

McCarthy
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Dave Freas

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Re: Sleeping medications
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 08:59:16 PM »

...However, I think that several barbiturates might work in your story. I would suggest that pentobarbital or phenobarbital would be good candidates. Just 10g of liquid pentobarbital (two teaspoons) would be a lethal dose, and although it does taste quite bitter, this would likely be disguised by any strongly flavoured drink, like strong coffee, whisky or strong wine. And a much lower dose (0.5-1g) could be used by a criminal to sedate their victim without necessarily killing them.  This small amount wouldn't alter the taste of it. And they'd certainly be groggy when they woke up!

The plot difficulty may be in how the killer obtains liquid pentobarbital, as barbiturates as a whole aren't prescribed these days for sleep problems - because it's so easy to overdose on them (how Marilyn Monroe met her end, out of interest)! I do know that some pet shops in Mexico sell it under the brand name Nembutal as a drug for animal euthanasia, as it's been reported that a number of pro-euthanasia activists have travelled there in order to use the drug to help a relative commit a painless suicide. For further detail - barbiturates would definitely show up in any post-mortem tox screen, as they're a common drug of abuse. ...

Nembutal (pentobarbital) is only available as an injectable liquid containing 50mg/ml, so 2 teaspoons (10ml) is 500mg.  As a rule of thumb, it takes 2 to 10 Grams of any barbiturate for a fatal dose.  2 Grams of pentobarbital would be 40 ml or about 1 & 1/3 ounces.
The injectable solution also contains 40% propylene glycol, alcohol, water, and either hydrochloric acid or sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH.  The propylene glycol, hydrochloric acid, or sodium hydroxide may impart a taste to what ever liquid it's added to that your victim may find objectionable.

Hope this helps.

Dave
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