Rohypnol, also known as Flunitrazepam, is a quick acting kind of benzodiazepine (BZD), which is used in some countries to treat insomnia. Just like other BZD, it is considered a hypnotic. This means it has sleep-inducing properties.
This drug has medical potential, but is unfortunately abused too often. It even has a bad reputation for being used by rapists in order to put victims to sleep or incapacitate them through paralysis. They mix it in with a drink, wherein it becomes difficult to detect. This is why rohypnol is considered a “date rape drug”.
Rohypnol must be used strictly on a short term basis, because it is quite addictive as far as prescriptions go.
It is a tranquilizer, said to be around ten times more potent than its fellow BZD Valium. It is available in pill form. It is taken orally, although recreational users sometimes crush it and snort the powder. Rohypnol is sometimes taken intravenously.
Rohypnol is illegal in the US. This is why it has collected its own set of street names including roofies, roofinol, roche, R2, Mexican Valium, forget-me pill, and rope.
Working for Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche, scientist Leo Sternbach developed benzodiazepines back in the 1950s. Sternbach and his team of researchers created and introduced many BZD substances, including Rohypnol.
The patent application was first filed in 1962, and was later marketed by the company in 1974.
Later on, the drug would see frequent recreational use and abuse, sometimes involving the date rape scenario. Because of this, in 1998 Roche modified the formulation to make it less soluble.
Blue dye was also added into the drug, to make detection easier when placed in drinks. In 2016, the drug was withdrawn from the markets in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. Rohypnol is also illegal in the US.
Why is it Abused?
Rohypnol is popular in the club scene. This “club drug” is often used in raves, nightclubs, and music festivals. The reason it is popular is because its effects are said to work in conjunction with the electronic dance music playing at these venues. The pulsating beats from the music, plus the drug’s hypnotic effects, combine to produce an experience wherein time seems to slow itself. This is what makes the drug so susceptible to abuse.
Just like other BZD, it is considered a major prescription drug class of abuse. Rohypnol in particular has been frequently detected in cases involving driving under the influence of drugs.
With sufficient doses, rohypnol may induce anterograde amnesia. Individuals struggle to recall events that happened while under the effects of the drug.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Rohypnol is commonly sold in pill form. While it is illegal in the US, it can still be bought in other countries. If you think someone you love is abusing the drug, there are a few signs that you could look out for.
A person who is on a high from Rohypnol experiences euphoria. However, this is a common effect of other illicit substances. Rohypnol may also cause aggression, excitement, confusion, or drowsiness. They will also be unable to think clearly. Their words will come out slurred, and they may also feel physically weak.
Headaches and breathing difficulties are sometimes signs of rohypnol abuse.
If taken alongside alcohol, the user may experience an exaggerated feeling of intoxication. This combination may lead to reduced heart rate and even death, so you have even more reason to investigate if you think someone you care about is abusing rohypnol.
Rohypnol produces a variety of adverse effects both short term and long term. Short term abuse may lead to drowsiness, memory loss, disorientation, nausea, and even blackouts. If a person continues to use the drug, they may suffer long term adverse effects.
Among the most common of these are: muscle pain, anxiety, irritability, loss of identity, convulsions, shock, and cardiovascular collapse. They may even experience a seizure if they try to quit abruptly.
Users with a history of alcohol abuse have an even higher chance of developing dependence. Once a person has tolerated the drug’s presence, the body will adjust in a way that it requires more and more of rohypnol just to get the same effects. Withdrawal symptoms will also plague them if they try to quit.
Often used with other substances, the dangers increase further. Combining it with another drug or alcohol boosts the intoxicating properties—as well as the negative health effects.
Physical and psychological effects of rohypnol abuse can be severe.
Detoxification is important if you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to rohypnol. However, as important as it may be, it is only one of the steps needed in order to ensure full recovery.
Detox should be done alongside a comprehensive treatment plan. Find a rehab facility you can trust, preferably one with a high success rate. Individualized care is also a great idea.
The patient will need counseling and guidance. They may get this through meetings with a psychiatrist.
Depending on the patient and their situation, they may go through either individual or group therapy. The former provides a sense of security and privacy for the patient. The latter allows them to recover in a supportive environment, with people who are having similar problems.
Drug education is also necessary. They will be trained to fight relapse, as this is always a looming threat for patients. Their health will be maintained as the facility gradually lowers their intake of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms will be handled with care.
Rohypnol and other BZD can lead to addiction. Recreational use can put the user in harm’s way. And if someone who is addicted to the substance suddenly tries to stop, they may experience the following withdrawal symptoms: psychosis, anxiety, aggressiveness, convulsions, and even violent behavior.
It is important to find a treatment facility that can handle these withdrawal symptoms. If you or someone you know is abusing rohypnol, do not hesitate to seek medical help. It is the only way to ensure recovery.