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Rohypnol is often mentioned in the press as the drug in drug-assisted rape. Find out what roofies really do with

Someone dropping a blue Rohypnol pill into a drink

Because it dissolves fast people don't always notice their drink has been spiked

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What is rohypnol?

Rohypnol, the trade name for flunitrazepam, is an inexpensive drug intended for use in treating sleep disorders, such as insomnia. The effects are similar to Valium but around 10 times the strength. It is occasionally used as a ‘parachute drug’ to lessen the effects of coming down from other substances.

Rohypnol is sold on prescription in bubble packs of one or two mg doses (usually in the form of white tablets with the word ROCHE written across). Because of its cheap street price, people occasionally take Rohypnol recreationally.

Rohypnol and date rape

Because Rohypnol dissolves quickly in drinks leaving no odour or taste and often leads to blackouts when mixed with alcohol, it has also become known as the ‘date rape’ drug. Despite the manufacturer’s attempt to counter this problem by adding blue dye, and making it slower to dissolve, there are plenty of roofies that contain no such warning ingredients.

Remember to watch your drink when you’re out, and if you think you’ve been spiked, call 999.

What are the effects of taking Rohypnol?

  • Rohypnol takes effect within 20 to 30 minutes of administration and lasts up to eight hours
  • It induces memory loss, relaxes the muscles and slows down the body’s responses
  • Tolerance is likely with repeated use, which means you need more to get the same effect
  • If combined with heroin, Rohypnol can enhance the high
  • If combined with cocaine, Rohypnol can mellow out the kick
  • If combined with alcohol, Rohypnol can increase the feeling of drunkenness and lower inhibitions.

What are the risks of taking Rohypnol?

  • Continued abuse of Rohynol can result in physical dependency. Kicking a habit can be very difficult
  • Withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, muscle pain, confusion to hallucinations, and even convulsions. Seizures may occur up to a week after users have quit
  • Experts advise controlled withdrawal under medical supervision
  • If you’re abusing Rohynol or any other benzodiazepine. Consult your doctor before trying to kick the habit.

The law and Rohypnol:

Rohypnol is a Class C drug. It is available by prescription only, and supply or possession without a prescription is a criminal offence. The maximum penalties are two years in prison and a fine for possession or five years prison and a fine for possession with intent to supply.

Spiking someone’s drink to try and have sex with them can get you ten years in prison.

Other terms for Rohypnol:

Roofies, R-2.

If you are planning on taking Rohypnol:

Avoid mixing with any other drugs, particularly other depressants such as alcohol and heroin. Remember that Rohypnol is not a substitute for temazepam, it’s actually much stronger than temazepam, and much more toxic too. You may only need half a tablet to get the same effect as a jelly.

Photo of a pill being dropping into a drink by Shutterstock

Next Steps

  • Drinkaware offers advice and information on alcohol and your drinking habits.
  • Are you drinking too much? Drinkaware has a useful self assessment tool to help you discover if your drinking habits are healthy, or something to worry about.
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Updated on 07-Aug-2014

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