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Rohypnol

Rohypnol has been a concern for the last few years because of its abuse as a “date rape” drug. People may unknowingly be given the drug which, when mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate and prevent a victim from resisting sexual assault. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.

Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects including muscle relaxation and amnesia. In Miami, one of the first sites of Rohypnol abuse, poison control centers report an increase in withdrawal seizures among people addicted to Rohypnol.

Rohypnol, a trade name for flunitrazepam, belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. It can produce “anterograde amnesia,” which means individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.

Rohypnol is not approved for use in the United States, and its importation is banned. Illicit use of Rohypnol started appearing in the United States in the early 1990s, where it became known as “rophies,” “roofies,” “roach,” and “rope.”

Abuse of two other similar drugs appears to have replaced Rohypnol abuse in some regions of the country. These are clonazepam, marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin and in Mexico as Rivotril, and alprazolam, marketed as Xanax. Rohypnol, however, continues to be a problem among treatment admissions in Texas along the Mexican border.

What does Rohypnol look like?

Rohypnol is a predominantly central nervous system depressants. Because it is often colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added to beverages and ingested unknowingly.

This substance emerged a few years ago as one of the “drug-assisted assault” drugs. Because of concern about their abuse, Congress passed the “Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996” in October 1996. This legislation increased Federal penalties for use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual assault.