Last reviewed by Miljan Krcobic on August 25th, 2018.
What is Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is a brand name of the drug flunitrazepam, a benzodiazepine derivative, which is central nervous system depressant, and also known as sedative and hypnotic used to treat anxiety, insomnia, sleep disorders, and seizures disorders.
There are many other benzodiazepines are available which promotes sedation and relaxation for example: alprazolam (Xanax), bromazepam, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), lorazepam (Atavan), and diazepam (Valium). Rohypnol is ten times more potent than Valium. In Europe, it is mainly prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders. But it is strictly prohibited for use in United States.
Flunitrazepam is available in one to two milligram tablet and is odorless and colorless substance. Moreover it cannot be detected in liquid. As, Rohypnol is known to be responsible for drug-facilitated sexual assault, it was reformulated by the manufacturers.
Now they appear as green colored tablets, the green colored was added with the help of a dye, and after dissolving, it turns to blue color, which makes it more detectable in some drinks. However, the white colored tablets of Rohypnol are still available.
Rohypnol history of use
This quick-acting and long-lasting drug is widely used around the world for legitimate medical purposes. Flunitrazepam is prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety, to relax muscles, to stop convulsions, and to calm people. In the 1990s it was Western Europe’s most commonly prescribed calming and sleep-inducing medicine.
The drug is administered to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and experimental use in treating depression has found ﬂunitrazepam promising. Some unauthorized use of the drug is believed to be for self-medication of depression and low self-esteem.
The drug has specialized usefulness in surgery as a medication given prior to administration of anesthesia, and its tendency to reduce pressure inside the eyeball can avert the rise caused by the anesthetic succinylcholine (important if patients are at risk for glaucoma).
In hospice care where doses can be higher and more frequent than normal, ﬂunitrazepam has reduced nausea and vomiting fromcancer chemotherapy. Actions are similar to those of diazepam, but ﬂunitrazepam is 7 to 10 times stronger. Nonetheless, compared to other benzodiazepine class drugs an overdose of ﬂunitrazepam does not seem more poisonous, nor does ﬂunitrazepam appear more prone to cause medical crises.
What are the methods of use of Rohypnol?
Rohypnol tablets come in doses of one or two milligrams and users may take one or more tablets at a time. Oral route is most commonly practiced for administration of this drug. One can swallow or chew the tablets, or it can also get dissolved under the tongue. Abusers also snort the pills after crushing them as it shows instant and more potent effects.
The powder of this drug also sprinkled on the marijuana and smoked. Also it can be injected directly after dissolving. After ingestion, it starts showing its effects in 15 to 20 minutes. The effects of this medication last for twelve or more hours.
To enhance the effects of this drug, abusers take it with other drugs such as marijuana, ectasy, LSD, and alcohol. It have been seen that in order to relieve the withdrawal symptoms or in order to enhance the effects of low quality heroin, people often use Rohypnol. Similarly, cocaine users take Rohypnol to soften the negative effects of coming down from a binge.
Informal (street) names for Rohypnol
Candy, Circles, Darkene, Date Rape Drug, Drop Drug, Dulcitas, Forget Me Drug, Forget Pills, LaRocha, LaRoche, LunchMoneyDrug, Mexican Valium, MindErasers, Pappas, Pastas, Peanuts, Pingus, Potatoes, RememberAll, Reynol, Reynolds, Rib, Roaches, Roachies, Roach-2, Roapies, Robinol, Robutal, Rochas, RochasDos, Roche, RocheDos, Roches, Rochies, Rohibinol, Roofenol, Rooﬁes, Ropanol, Ropers, Ropes, Rophies, Rophs, Rophy, Ropies, Roples, RoShay, Row-Shay, R05-4200, R-25, R-2, Rubies, Rufﬁes, Rufﬂes, Trip & Fall, Whiteys, Wolﬁes.
What are the effects of Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is available in Mexico but banned in United States. It is also available from mail order services overseas. It is used as sedative before surgery in some countries because it causes amnesia. After administration of this medication, people forgot about surgery and surrounded atmosphere.
This drug can even facilitate a sexual assault, when given to an unsuspected person and on contrary, the person who has been assaulted does not even remember the assault and don’t even able to report the assault.
Thus, women are not allowed to leave the college campus alone or unattended, if they are drunk, as someone may add Rohypnol to it. The person under the influence of Rohypnol remains sedated, euphoric, and uninhibited. The person may slur their speech and look sleepy.
The less desirable effects of Rohypnol are weakness, headache, difficulty in breathing, nausea, unconsciousness, confusion, difficulty seeing clearly. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol slower the breathing and heart rate to extreme low levels, due to collective effects on central nervous system. If taken with alcohol, it can result in coma or death.
Some people who are addicted to cocaine will add Rohypnol to the mix, so as to reduce the anxious, irritable feeling they can get when they are on a cocaine binge. Ironically, while it tends to sedate most people, some people on Rohypnol will get aggressive and excited. Here are listed effects that occur after Rohypnol intake:
- Relaxed feeling similar to alcohol intoxication
- Decreased blood pressure
- Muscle relaxation
- Memory impairment
- Disinhibition, or freedom from psychological and social restraints on behavior
- Some users experience the paradoxical effect of excitability or aggressive behavior
- Anterograde amnesia – events that occurred while intoxicated are forgotten
Rohypnol drug abuse
Rohypnol is a powerful benzodiazepine drug which is similar to legally prescribed sedative medication called alprazolam (XANAX). The voluntary and recreational use or abuse of Rohypnol leads to its addiction.
There are no medical benefits of this medication therefore its manufacturing and usage is strictly banned in United States. In some countries, it is prescribed as a sleep medication for the treatment of short-term insomnia. Import from other countries to the United States is also banned. It is considered as one of several “Club drugs” in United States.
Rohypnol is central nervous system depressant drug which counteract the effects of stimulant drug such as methamphetamine. Also it gives a psychoactive experience to the abuser. Rohypnol is known to inhibit the certain brain chemicals called as GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) and increase the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals called as Dopamine.
Abusers feel the euphoria in the absence of GABA caused by Rohypnol. Tolerance can develop from continues use of Rohypnol. Even larger doses of Rohypnol cause the complete blockage of GABA. With the increment in tolerance period, the body becomes physically dependent and one needs to take this drug again in order to ‘feel normal.’ With the passage of time, person starts feeling missing and start suffering from withdrawal symptoms in the absence of Rohypnol.
Can Rohypnol be taken involuntary? How it is dangerous?
Yes, Rohypnol can also be taken involuntary, and it seems quite strange that one takes this medication and does not realize it. Few people in order to harm others slip a tablet of Rohypnol into a drink of user and the tablet dissolve into the drink instantly and victim cannot recognize and adulteration in his/her drug. Moreover, this drug is completely colorless and tasteless.
However, in overseas, the blue color is added to the tablet by manufacturer in order to make it recognizable and prevent it from misuse. Still, white tablets with original formula are also widely available and people with criminal minds, are misusing it. It is also important to note that the effects of Rohypnol are very similar to alcohol intoxication, which generally means individuals may not know they have been drugged.
It is very dangerous if taken this drug involuntarily, because one can administer this medication without any intention and without even realizing. One can easily be the pray to criminally minded people and may suffer from severe sexual or physical assault.
Rohypnol a “date-rape” drug
In the 1990s law enforcement agencies declared ﬂunitrazepam to be a date rape drug, allowing men to commit sexual assault against unresisting victims who have foggy or even no memory of the circumstances. In this regard the drug is little different from alcohol, though faster acting. In a survey of 53 women who willingly used ﬂunitrazepam, 10% said they were afterward assaulted physically or sexually.
When 66 other “ﬂunitrazepam users”described the tablet, many descriptions were of some other drug even though the people believed they had taken ﬂunitrazepam. Untoward events may be real, but the identity of an involved drug may be less certain than law enforcementofﬁcials say.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says detection of ﬂunitrazepam is nearly impossible in rape cases because urine samples must be analyzed within 72 hours of ingesting ﬂunitrazepam, making the drug’s prevalence as a tool in sexual assault impossible to demonstrate. Nonetheless, the DEA describes the problem’s extent as serious.
A student of the topic found that from 1994 to 1998 a nationwide total of “at least” 26 sexual assaults “potentially involved” the drug. One laboratory conducted a two-year study of 1,179 urine specimens from sexual assault victims in 49 states, specimens selected because of suspicion that some drug was involved—and thereby more likely to have positive results than if samples were chosen randomly from sex crime cases.
The lab found 6 positive for ﬂunitrazepam (0.5%), 97 (8%) positive for a benzodiazepine class substance (a category including many drugs other than ﬂunitrazepam), 451 positive for alcohol, and 468 negative for any drug of abuse that was searched for. A two-year study of 2,003 urine samples from sexual assault victims believed to have ingested a drug found less than 2% containing ﬂunitrazepam or GHB.
The same study reported that as of 1999 utilization of those two drugs seemed to be waning. Flunitrazepam’s legal manufacturer has offered to provide free and deﬁnitive analysis of samples submitted by medical and law enforcement personnel.
Researchers at the University of Miami report that detection of ﬂunitrazepam in urine samples is easy and that, in contrast to ambiguous results from sex crime investigations, ﬂunitrazepam had been conﬁrmed in “up to” 10% of drunk driving cases in 1995 and 1996 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, but plummeted after the drug became Schedule I under state law in 1997.
What are the ways to protect oneself from involuntary Rohypnol abuse?
Fortunately, there are many ways available that are given by Brown University that help one to protect them from the involuntary abuse of Rohypnol. One most common and most important factor that one can consider for being protected is, to not being frequent to social clubs along, or always accompany with trusted friends. As per one study, around 90% of the date rape accidents occurred under the influence of alcohol. And chances are more when Rohypnol is administered with alcohol.
Other ways to protect oneself from involuntary Rohypnol abuse include:
- Do not accept a drink from a stranger unless it is in a factory-sealed container, such as an unopened wine cooler or beer.
- If someone insists they wish to buy you a drink, be equally adamant that you are present at the bar while it is being mixed.
- Do not drink from a community punch bowl, as you cannot be certain what ingredients have been added with or without the host’s knowledge.
- Establish one member of the party to refrain from drug abuse or alcohol consumption for the duration of the event.
- Pay close attention to how much alcohol you consume, and whether your behavior or feelings correspond to the amount consumed. If you seem to be more intoxicated than you should be, you may have been involuntarily drugged.
Rohypnol “HIGH” experience
I have ingested Rohypnol primarily by swallowing and snorting. The pill itself is sweet and can be chewed. Snorting produces no pain whatsoever, resulting in a quicker and more potent “high”. However, Rohypnol on its own often results in a drunker feeling much like drinking a glass of wine or two. So, unless you have something else to take it with, I’d recommend saving your ‘roof-dawns’ for a better day. Usual dosage can range from half a pill to three pills. I don’t usually venture far beyond three pills, as they are hard to come by and cost about $5/pills in my part of the world.
Rohypnol is the perfect potentiator. Taken with alcohol, it makes you feel more drunk; smoked with weed, it’ll make you feel more ‘spacey’. Personally, I feel taking Rohypnol with drink or smoke is a waste of time. Rohypnol’s real companion value comes in with amphetamines and psychedelics. Say, for instance, you’ve taken too much speed and you’d like to have a rest, Rohypnol will calm you down quite like nothing you’ve ever experienced. The result is warm, fuzzy, very comfortable feeling, free from anxiety, allowing you to drift away in a boat of bizarre and vivid dreams. If you’ve done an E and are experiencing a drastic or terrifying ‘crash’, Rohypnol will immediately save you from any emotional trauma, making you feel contented and relaxed — emotionally, mentally and physically.
But Rohypnol’s effects with LSD are the most unique and refereshing I have experienced. Rohypnol’s strong disinhibiting effect is different from that of alcohol — with alcohol, higher-level reasoning is shunted due to lack of oxygen. I have found Rohypnol to take away anxiety and fear, of the outside world and of one’s own personal demons — though I’m not quite clear of the mechanism by which this is achieved.
I have done much acid in my lifetime, and I have found it will only go as far as my cerebral cortex allows. My thoughts often get stuck on infinite recursion with acid, as I dissect and reason out everything I see. I get moderate to heavy visuals, never any proper ‘hallucinations’ (seeing things that really aren’t there). Acid for me is usually very cerebral, never emotional or physical.
I’ve never had any illusions of being the Messiah, etc. However, ‘safe’ as this sounds, acid has failed to have the effect that so many of my forebears swear by. I was always wondering what they meant by ‘transcendant’ or ‘reality-shifting’ — unless they meant boiling solids or making infinite mental and visual connections that aren’t really there, which I don’t think they were.
What are withdrawal symptoms of Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is a drug that is very addictive when taken in high doses; some people use it with other drugs or alcohol to enhance its effects or sometimes to get quicker effects. This makes the smaller doses of Rohypnol more effective and potent.
Sometimes Rohypnol is also used to treat reduce the undesirable effects of cocaine and methamphetamine such as insomnia and paranoia. These concurrent administrations of such addictive drugs cause more severe withdrawal symptoms when one decided to cease the addiction of Rohypnol.
The withdrawal of Rohypnol is similar to barbiturate and alcohol withdrawal. Rohypnol is not very fast acting therefore the withdrawal symptoms may not be present several days after the last dose. The withdrawal symptoms that occur with detoxification process are:
- Muscle tremors
- Sensitivity to sound and light
- Temporary hearing loss
- Flu-like symptoms along with aches and pains
Long term symptoms of Rohypnol include neurological, cognitive and intellectual impairments that last after 12 months. In some cases, withdrawal from Rohypnol can be severe and cause symptoms that mimic schizophrenia, seizure disorders, and mania. So, if you are detoxing from Rohypnol, medical professionals should be notified.
Before detoxing, patients should seek medical help if they have been addicted to the benzodiazepines for a long time, or it they are using large doses of Rohypnol. One can suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms such as catatonia (psychogenic motor immobility), convulsions, seizures, and coma, if detoxification is done without medical aid. You should discuss the detoxification process with doctor, as it will help you to address any symptom that is more severe than other.
Doctor recommends slow withdrawal of the Rohypnol in order to avoid associated symptoms. Monitored doses of diazepam and chlordiazepoxide are administered to the patient because these medications are helpful in gradual withdrawal of the Rohypnol and also reduce the physical dependence of the drug. To control seizures and convulsions, Phenobarbital is given but gradual withdrawal is widely accepted and is considered as most effective way to treat withdrawal symptoms.
What is the relationship between mental health disorder and Rohypnol abuse?
In order to deal with a mental health disorder, some users turn to Rohypnol. In order to escape from anxiety and pain that accompany psychological disorders (like depression, bipolar disorders, or schizophrenia), psychoactive drugs offers an escape and abusers find it easy and effective method to deal with the current situation.
Rohypnol can produce a sense of wellbeing and calm that temporarily helps sufferers forget about their mental health problems. The pleasurable effects of Rohypnol are more increased when taken with alcohol in high quantities. When taken in long run, it causes physical and mental dependence which can be a main reason of pain.
Rohypnol abuse causes undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues to rise to the surface. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common psychological side effects of using Rohypnol, and other problems can include confusion, restlessness and irritability. People who have mental disorders that cause them to suffer from such problems as hallucinations or severe mood swings will only worsen these problems by using Rohypnol.
How to treat Rohypnol drug addiction?
Benzodiazepines are usually intended for short-term use, as they have high risks for addiction and dependence. In order to treat the Rohypnol abuse, the professional rehab is considered as the safest and most effective way. Below are four common ways an addiction is treated:
It is very essential to reduce the dose of Rohypnol gradually under medical supervision, instead of leaving this medication abruptly. As sudden cessation of Rohypnol can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and also it can increase in blood pressure and heart rate. As per a study, abrupt cessation of this drug can cause seizures, convulsions, psychiatric problems, high blood pressure and tachycardia whereas a gradual reduction in Rohypnol dose minimizes the risk of withdrawal symptoms and provide more comfort.
Rohypnol and Mental Health Care
People sometimes use this medication in order to treat undiagnosed mental conditions which can lead to undesirable and uncertain effects. Rehab centers typically provide mental health screenings, diagnoses and integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders. Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for anxiety, panic and sleep disorders and other therapeutic approaches are used to treat recovering addicts with these conditions.
Behavioral therapies for Rohypnol
The addict’s behavior can be improved with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (Dialectical behavioral therapy). CBT promotes the positive emotions and beliefs thereby treats negative and maladaptive thought patterns, whereas DBT is helpful in addressing the patient’s conflicting impulses in order to make them capable of making healthy choices. Both therapies treat substance abuse, anxiety disorders and other mood issues.
Counseling for Rohypnol
In group and individual settings, the health and mental counseling is done. Unresolved trauma, unconscious conflicts and specific struggles are addressed by the means of one-o-one treatment sessions. The group sessions include life skills, stress management, conflict resolution and social connections.
Rohypnol legal status
Rohypnol is not approved for medical use or manufactured in the US and is not available legally. However, it is legally prescribed in over 60 other countries and is widely available in Mexico, Colombia, and Europe where it is used for the treatment of insomnia and as a pre-anesthetic.
Therefore, it was placed into Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act in 1984 due to international treaty obligations and remains under that classification. Schedule IV drugs are considered to have a lower abuse potential but can lead to physical or psychological dependence.
The penalties associated with the possession, trafficking, and distribution of Rohypnol are equivalent to those of a Schedule I substance (Schedule I substances include heroin, marijuana, and MDMA.
How long do Rohypnol stays in your system?
Flunitrazepam has an elimination half-life time between 18-26 hours and is likely to be excreted from your system between 4-6 day after taking the last dose. However different factors may influence how long will drug stay in the system. Most commonly: age, body mass, food and water intake levels, kidney and liver condition, co-ingestion of other drugs.
Rohypnol drug tests
Since Rohypnol is benzodiazepine drug, it can be detected in 10 panel drug tests.
Metabolites of Rohypnol can be identified in urine samples after 60 hours up to 28 days. Hair tests can show usage of flunitrazepam even after 90 days. Rohypnol usage can also be detected via saliva tests 12-24 hours after it was administered.
Rohypnol interactions with other drugs
Alcohol and ﬂunitrazepam boost each other’s actions. Some illicit drug users ﬁnd ﬂunitrazepam to be a pleasing addition to a dose of inferior heroin, and some ﬁnd that ﬂunitrazepam eases harsh effects from cocaine. However, using multiple illicit drugs, particularly if the combination tends to make the body produce opposite actions simultaneously, is an invitation to problems. Buprenorphine disrupts the body’s ability to break down ﬂunitrazepam.
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