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Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine drug or tranquilizer prescribed in the short-term treatment of insomnia, for inducing anaesthesia, and as a pre-medication before surgery. It has strong sedative and amnesic properties, with effects seven to ten times stronger than Valium. These properties have made it a popular choice for predators looking to commit sexual offences. The drug is also commonly used to enhance the effects of heroin and regulate the high from cocaine ingestion.
Rohypnol is also known by its generic name Flunitrazepam, as well as various street names including "forget me drug," roofies, roches, ruffles, and the date rape drug.
Rohypnol takes effect 15 to 20 minutes after it’s taken. At this time, the victim may feel sedated, confused, and dizzy. They may lose control of their muscles, have impaired judgment, and lower inhibitions. The drug also causes total or partial amnesia. In some cases, a person may collapse after taking Rohypnol. These effects usually last between four and six hours, although effects may linger 12 or more hours after Rohypnol is taken.
Since the 1990s, Rohypnol has been known to be used an aid for sexual assault. Predators typically slip the drug into a victim’s drink, often at a party or bar where it dissolves and is tasteless and odorless. It was previously colorless also, although new versions of Rohypnol cause a clear or pale liquid to turn blue. However, the blue dye may not be noticeable when dissolved into darker liquids, especially in dimly-lit clubs or bars. Rohypnol has strong amnesic properties, especially when paired with alcohol, so victims typically have limited recollection of their assaults or attackers. It is difficult to estimate how many rapes occur with the aid of Rohypnol in the United States, as biological samples are typically taken once the drug’s effects wear off and minimal amounts of the drug remain in the system.
Mixing Rohypnol with alcohol or other drugs can be very dangerous. The interaction of these drugs can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels, limit breathing capacity, and cause people to slip into a coma or even die.
Rohypnol is not manufactured in the United States and not available legally in the country. People who possess, traffic, or distribute Rohypnol face charges equivalent to those associated with other illegal drugs such as heroin and marijuana.