How do these drugs work? All of them are sedatives. Sodium thiopental actually slows down the process between your spinal cord to your brain, making it very difficult to concentrate enough to think up a lie. Truth serums have a lot of problems, however, and the research Dr. House engaged in has come under a lot of scrutiny. Many of the drugs, like sodium amytal, have been shown to create false memories in a subject. Giving someone a substance that forces them to possibly implicate themselves in a crime is also extremely controversial . That’s exactly what happened in Townsend v. Sain, where a man said his rights had been violated when he was made to confess to a murder while under the influence of a truth serum, and subsequently sentenced to death. The court ruled in his favor, and it became much less common to use truth serums.
While officially truth serums are no longer used, the CIA has tested the effectiveness of many drugs, and given the organization’s secret nature, it would not be surprising if they are continuing to integrate truth serums into their interrogations.