Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) is a benzodiazepine class of drug. It is primarily used as a hypnotic or sedative type of drug in Europe and South America. It is primarily used for sedation for general anesthesia. Flunitrazepam has similar pharmacological effects to other benzodiazepines but is 10 times more potent than valium.
Rohypnol is not manufactured nor has it been approved for clinical use in the United States. It has been widely used in Europe and South America for more than a decade.
The majority of Rohypnol in the USA has been smuggled in from Europe, South America and Mexico. Recent seizures indicate that a significant amount of the drug is smuggled and distributed by the Israelis and Russian drug traffickers. Illicit use of Rohypnol originated in Europe in the 1970s and has increased worldwide since then. However, Rohypnol did not appear in the United States until the early 1990s.
Flunitrazepam is marketed under the trade name Rohypnol. It is available as a 1- and 2-milligram tablet. In Europe, liquid preparations are available for intravenous use. The effects of flunitrazepam appear approximately 15 to 20 minutes after oral administration, and last for approximately four to six hours. Some residual effects can persist up to 12 hours or more after administration.
The drug is frequently available at raves, night clubs, all night parties and bars. The drug has been widely used as a “date rape” drug. Most users of Rohypnol also abuse other drugs including methamphetamine, alcohol and heroin. In the United States, Rohypnol is used widely in Texas and Florida where it is popular among high school students. All reports indicate that the population which uses Rohypnol is rapidly growing. Numerous seizures of the illegal drug have been made by the DEA.
Rohypnol is especially abused by high school students and college students. In the US, each tablet costs about 2-4$. It is usually ingested with alcohol and frequently mixed with other drugs (cocaine, marijuana). Inpiduals who take it with alcohol report a euphoric feeling and lightheadedness.
Flunitrazepam is known to induce antegrade amnesia in sufficient doses; inpiduals are unable to remember certain events that they experienced while under the influence of the drug. Flunitrazepam has been used by males to aid in their task of sexual assault. Most victims do not remember or recall the sexual assault, the assailant, or the events surrounding the sexual assult.
If an inpidual suspects that he or she has been a victim of a flunitrazepam facilitated sexual assault, laboratory testing for flunitrazepam should be done as soon as possible. Recent technological advances can detect flunitrazepam and related compounds in urine for up to 5 days after administration of a single dose of Rohypnol and up to a month in hair.
In the United Kingdom, the use of flunitrazepam has been connected to robbery from sedated victims. Many inpiduals are robbed each year after having their drinks spiked with sedatives, making drug-assisted robbery as common as drug-assisted rape.
Flunitrazepam is considered to be one of the most addictive of the benzodiazepines. It can produce several side effects including:
- Drowsiness, Fatigue
- Gait problems
- Dizziness, lethargy
- Lack of motor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Amnesia and forgetfulness
- Nausea, vomiting
- Respiratory depression
Overdose with rohypnol can lead to coma, respiratory arrest and death. Although the drug is classified as a depressant, Rohypnol can cause paradoxical reactions in some inpiduals that may include excitability or aggressive behavior.
Both short and long term use can lead to physical dependence on Rohypnol. The addictive features are more pronounced in inpiduals who use Rohypnol in large doses for a long time. Long-term use of flunitrazepam can result in psychological and physical dependence and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued.
Flunitrazepam impairs cognitive and psychomotor skills, affects reaction time and driving skills. The use of this drug in combination with alcohol potentiates these side effects, and can lead to toxicity.
Flunitrazepam is currently a Schedule III drug under the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971; in the United States, it is on Schedule IV according to FDA Associate Director for Domestic and International Drug Control.
Flunitrazepam was "temporarily controlled in Schedule IV pursuant to a treaty obligation under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. At the time flunitrazepam was placed temporarily in Schedule IV . . . there was no evidence of abuse or trafficking of the drug in the United States."
Rohypnol is currently under consideration to be rescheduled to Schedule I, and is already considered such in the States of Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Most states have introduced legislation that provide for stiff prison terms for the possession of flunitrazepam. Penalties for use or distribution include life in prison, should death or serious injury occur.
The drug must be declared to US Customs upon arrival. If a valid prescription cannot be produced, the drug may be subject to Customs search and seizure, and the traveler may face criminal charges or deportation.