Rohypnol is a powerful central nervous system depressant that may appear to be a beneficial drug but it can ruin your life. Also known as flunitrazepam, this benzodiazepine is banned in the United States, but it is approved and used for legitimate medicinal purposes in Europe, Latin America, and other countries. Those medical reasons include anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms and seizure disorders.
Why does this drug seem to have two faces? What are the dangers of Rohypnol?
What you should know about Rohypnol
In the United States, flunitrazepam is classified in two different categories. Under the Controlled Substances Act it is considered a Schedule IV substance, which means there is less potential for abuse but users can still experience some physical or psychological dependence. However, anyone who is caught possessing, trafficking or distributing the drug is subject to penalties associated with heroin, MDMA and other Schedule I drugs. Flunitrazepam enters the United States mainly through Mexico or via international mail.
One reason Rohypnol is dangerous is that it is ten times more potent than diazepam (Valium). This fact makes it an attractive drug for misuse and abuse. Shortly after Rohypnol was introduced to the market in 1975, there were reports of misuse in Europe, but they were not sufficient to cause a ban of the drug. The abuse alarm was enough, however, to prompt the United Nations to change the drug’s classification from a Schedule IV to a Schedule III.
Another reason flunitrazepam is harmful is its designation as a date-rape drug. During the 1990s, the drug was formulated so that it could not be detected if it were added to liquid. Therefore, men could slip this odorless and tasteless drug into a woman’s drink and then wait for her to become incapacitated. Since then the manufacturer has added a dye to the drug so it turns blue when it is placed into liquid. The danger of date-rape with this drug is still a problem, however, because there are generic forms available that do not have the dye.
How Rohypnol is abused
Individuals who abuse Rohypnol typically swallow or chew the oral tablets. Those who want to feel the effects of the drug more quickly crush the pills and snort the powder or they dissolve it in liquid and inject it.
Other avenues of abuse include adding powdered Rohypnol to marijuana and smoking it or using it in any form along with other drugs of abuse, including alcohol. Combining flunitrazepam with cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy and other illegal substances can enhance the effects of all these drugs and also their negative impact.
Physical and psychological impact of Rohypnol
Flunitrazepam depresses brain function and the activity of the central nervous system. The result, when the drug is taken according to a doctor’s orders, may be better sleep, muscle relaxation, less anxiety and sedation. When the drug is abused, however, the results can be deadly, especially if it is mixed with another central nervous system depressant like alcohol.
Even when Rohypnol is taken as directed by a doctor, patients often experience side effects. Those side effects include the following:
• Reduction in blood pressure
• Problems with memory
• Muscle relaxation
• Aggressive behavior
• Loss of inhibitions
These side effects can be greatly enhanced when the drug is abused.
Another problem with flunitrazepam is that while it is supposed to be used short-term for insomnia and other conditions, some users establish long-term regular use, and this pattern leads to a need to take increasingly larger doses and physical and psychological dependence develops.
Anyone who has fallen into the clutches of Rohypnol misuse and abuse should seek help from qualified professionals at an inpatient facility. Supervised treatment from experts is the safest and most effective way to wean off the drug, manage withdrawal symptoms and address the emotional and physical challenges of addiction. The dangers of Rohypnol are many but they can be overcome successfully with the right program.