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"One year ago, I locked my door and went to sleep; like we all do on any given night. Unfortunately, this night was like no other before and was one I will never be able to forget. I woke up that night to a co-worker who had undressed himself, crawled into my bed and raped me. "
Kathleen, rape survivor

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Rohypnol - The Date Rape Drug
By the National Women's Health Information Center (www.4women.gov)

       The date rape drug is the common name for Rohypnol, generically called flunitrazepam. Rohypnol is manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche and prescribed as a sleeping pill in countries outside of the United States. It is used as a short-term treatment for insomnia, as a sedative hypnotic and a pre-anesthetic. It has physiological effects similar to Valium, but is approximately ten times more potent. It is used also as an illicit drug, often in combination with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.

       Common names for Rohypnol include the following: rophies, roofies, R2, roofenol, Roche, roachies, la rocha, rope, rib, circles, Mexican valium, roach-2, roopies, and ropies. A similar drug is known as clonazepam (Klonopin in the U.S. and Rivotril in Mexico.)


What does Rohypnol look like?

       Rohypnol tablets are white, scored on one side, with the word "ROCHE" and an encircled one or two (depending on the dosage) on the other. They are sold in pre-sealed bubble packs of one or two mg doses. Rohypnol can often be dissolved in a drink, and undetectable.

Is Rohypnol legal?

       No, Rohypnol is not manufactured or sold legally in the United States. However, it is produced and sold legally by prescription in Europe and Latin America. It is smuggled into the United States by mail or delivery services.

Who uses Rohypnol and how?

       Rohypnol use has been reported on every inhabited continent. It is often used in conjunction with other drugs. It is usually ingested orally, but can be snorted. Teen use of Rohypnol is increasing. The most common pattern of use is by teenagers and young adults as an alcohol extender in an attempt to create a dramatic "high" most often in combination with beer, or as a drug to incapacitate a victim before a sexual assault.

Why has there been an increase in teen use of Rohypnol?

       First, Rohypnol is a low-cost drug, sold at less than $5.00 per tablet. Second, common misconceptions may explain the drug's popularity with young people:

  • many erroneously believe that the drug is unadulterated because it comes in pre-sealed bubble packs -- and therefore tamper-proof and safe.
  • many mistakenly think its use cannot be detected by urinalysis testing.


What happens when you take Rohypnol? What are the side effects?

       Rohypnol intoxication is generally associated with impaired judgment and impaired motor skills and can make a victim unable to resist a sexual attack. The combination of alcohol and Rohypnol is also particularly hazardous because together, their effects on memory and judgment are greater than the effects resulting from either taken alone.

       Effects begin within thirty minutes, peak within two hours, and can persist for up to eight hours. It is commonly reported that persons who become intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and flunitrazepam have "blackouts" lasting eight to twenty-four hours following ingestion. Disinhibition (losing your social inhibitions) is another widely reported effect of Rohypnol, when taken alone or in combination with alcohol.

       Adverse effects of Rohypnol use include, decreased blood pressure, memory impairment, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances and urinary retention.


Is Rohypnol addictive?

       Yes. Rohypnol can cause physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, muscle pain, confusion, hallucinations and convulsions. Seizures may occur up to a week after cessation of use.

Why is Rohypnol called the "date rape drug"?

       Rohypnol has been associated with date rape, and has also been called the "Forget Pill," "Trip-and-Fall," and "Mind-Erasers." In combination with alcohol, it can induce a blackout with memory loss and a decrease in resistance.

       Girls and women around the country have reported being raped after being involuntarily sedated with Rohypnol, which was often slipped into their drink by an attacker. The drug has no taste or odor so the victims don't realize what is happening. About ten minutes after ingesting the drug, the woman may feel dizzy and disoriented, simultaneously too hot and too cold, or nauseated. She may experience difficulty speaking and moving, and then pass out. Such victims have no memories of what happened while under the drug's influence.

How can I avoid becoming a victim of rape under the influence of Rohypnol?

Here are a few suggestions for staying aware and alert:

  • Be wary about accepting drinks from anyone you don't know well or long enough to trust.
  • If you are accepting a drink, make sure it's from an unopened container and that you open it yourself.
  • Don't put your drink down and leave it unattended, even to go to the restroom.
  • Notify other females you know about the effects of this dangerous drug.
  • If you think that you have been a victim, notify the authorities immediately.

 

This site is offered for support of other rape and sexual abuse survivors. It is not meant to be a substitute for any kind of professional help.
If you are in a crisis situation we urge to contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional.

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