What is Rohypnol (ruh·hip·naal)?
A drug that is ten times more potent than Valium, Rohypnol is a tranquilizer and known as a date rape drug. This drug renders the victim of rape incapable of resisting. Sold as a white or olive-green pill, some users crush the pills and snort the powder or smoke it with marijuana. It is also sometimes dissolved in a drink or injected. Illegal in the United States, Rohypnol is sold in Europe and Latin America as a sleeping pill.
Pronounced ro-HIP-nol, the brand name for Rohypnol is Flunitrazepam. This is a powerful sedative that can cause drowsiness and amnesia or memory loss. Flunitrazepam is a benzodiazepine used outside the United States to treat anxiety, insomnia and sleep disorders, and seizure disorders; it is also used as a skeletal-muscle relaxant.
Street names for Rohypnol include R2, Rib, La Roche, Roofenol on Rope, Forget me pill, Mexican valium, wolfies, and the most popular street name is “roofies.” This drug has no odor or taste, so it is popular for predators to use Rohypnol as a date rape drug. There are many reports of individuals getting raped after involuntary sedation from taking the drug. The paralyzing effect of Rohypnol can start 20 to 30 minutes after taking the drug and may last up to 8 to 12 hours. Unable to move, the individual’s eyes remain open and can observe what is happening around them.
Effects of Rohypnol
This drug can make you feel sleepy and relaxed but sometimes make the user more excitable and aggressive. Blackouts are common with Rohypnol.
Taking Rohypnol with other drugs or alcohol can be very dangerous. A common date rape drug, Rohypnol can make the person experience loss of muscle control, confusion, drowsiness, and amnesia. As a lab, we occasionally field calls from individuals concerned that they were “roofied” the night prior. This often happens when a person is out consuming alcohol. Victims may not be able to describe their symptoms if they have already been drinking and are intoxicated at the time the drug is slipped to them unknowingly. At this point, a date rape drug test can be ordered.
Short-Term Effects of Rohypnol
- Makes most users feel sleepy and relaxed
- Slurred speech or problems speaking
- Impaired mental functioning, confusion, and judgment
- Impaired limb and muscle control
- Amnesia, tremors, nightmares
- Headaches, nausea, dizziness
Long-Term Effects of Rohypnol
- Can cause dependence on the drug—in other words, addiction
- Physical or psychological dependence
- Impaired sexual function
- Sleep problems
- Respiratory problems
- Depression and other mental health issues
In 1998, a California jury convicted two twin brothers of raping five women. The date rape drug Rohypnol was used to anesthetize these women. Seven boxes of Rohypnol were found at the apartment of twin brothers George “Gino” and Stefan “Julian” Spitzer.
Unfortunately date rape can occur in many situations. It is important to always be careful and not leave your drink unattended. It is possible that you will experience a complete loss of memory, disorientation, nausea, blackouts, slowed breathing, difficulty with speaking and with motor movements. If you think you have been date raped you should talk to someone, don’t keep it inside of you. Help is available and you are not alone.
A person who feels significantly drunker than usual should consider the possibility that they have been drugged. The only way to know for sure is to seek testing.