Rohypnol is illegal in the U.S. but remains rampantly available to young people. Though “roofies” are best known as date rape drugs, they are often abused for their sedative qualities. If you catch your teen abusing sedatives such as roofies, take immediate action to ensure your teen’s safety.
In 2011, 1.3% of 12th graders reported abusing Rohypnol in the past year. But this doesn’t account for the thousands of cases of forced Rohypnol use. During their college years, approximately 1 in 4 women experienced date rape or an attempted date rape — and an untold number of these cases involve drugs like Rohypnol.
Date Rape DrugRohypnol is among the most infamous of date rape drugs. It was first synthesized in Switzerland in 1975 — intended for medical use. Not long after, though, reports of misuse surfaced around Europe. Rohypnol pills became especially popular among sexual predators, who would covertly drop a pill in someone’s drink and, after it quickly dissolved and was consumed, take advantage of the person who drank it.
The most common form of Rohypnol is white, odorless and tasteless — making it nearly impossible to detect when slipped in a drink. Manufacturers eventually reformulated it into green tablets that turn drinks blue when mixed, making it easier to spot. But both types of pills still exist in production, and cases of date rape involving the drug remain an issue in the U.S.
- Forget-me pill
- Mexican Valium
- Mind erasers
Another street name is “Roche,” after the pill’s inventor Hoffman-La Roche. The word “Roche” is also written on many Rohypnol pills.
Teens using heroin, cocaine, LSD or ecstasy might take Rohypnol to either enhance the positive effects or soften the negative effects of these drugs. Rohypnol and alcohol is another popular combination at clubs and parties.
Once it enters the body, the effects of Rohypnol take about 20 minutes to kick in, and can last for 12 hours or ever longer.
While the drug itself is classified as a Schedule IV substance in the U.S., the 1996 Drug Induced Rape Prevention Act increased the restrictions and punishments related to the drug. Being caught in possession of Rohypnol can result in a fine and 3 years in jail, and distribution or importation is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.
This drug abuse starts young — drug use in middle school is just as much a reality as experimentation in high school. As with many substance habits, it can begin innocently enough. But in a flash it can become a life-altering addiction, over time, may demand an intervention.
If your son or daughter is abusing Rohypnol, you might notice some telltale signs. These can include:
- Extreme lethargy or prolonged sleeping patterns
- Lowered inhibitions
- Missing class or failing grades
- Aggressive behavior
- Apathy towards family or obligations
Effects on the Brain
Rohypnol depresses brain function and central nervous system activity in a big way. It has a tranquilizing effect, and users have described it as “paralyzing.” This drastic slowing down of the brain is multiplied when alcohol is mixed in — this explains why people slipped Rohypnol at a bar become so vulnerable and lose control over their actions. Death from Rohypnol overdose is far more likely when alcohol is involved.
Other side effects of Rohypnol on the brain can include:
- Short-term amnesia, or completely forgetting what happened while intoxicated
- Long-term memory impairment
- Slurred speech
- Blacking out
Effects on the Body
The complete incapacitation caused by Rohypnol is physical as well as psychological. As the brain slows to a crawl, the body’s functions will have a similar reaction. Some of these effects can be seen on the surface. Others are internal, and may not be realized until they result in a serious hospital visit.
Physical side effects of Rohypnol can include:
- Muscle relaxation
- Difficulty walking and loss of motor control
- Visual disturbances
- Decreased blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Urinary retention
- Respiratory depression
Withdrawal symptoms of Rohypnol dependency may include:
- Muscle pain
- Numbness of the extremities
- Loss of identity
Rohypnol withdrawal can cause seizures up to a week after an addict’s last use. Rohypnol treatment will provide a lengthy supervised detox period, where your teen can work through these withdrawal symptoms without the urge to seek a fix. Many cases of addiction are simply users trying to avoid withdrawal by repeatedly using drugs or alcohol. If you identify symptoms of Rohypnol use in your teen, you should immediately reach out for help as to prevent continued use and the litany of risks that comes along with it.
We at TheRecoveryVillage.com offer free, confidential help for parents like you, who are concerned about their child’s substance use. Whether you are aware that your teen is dealing with addiction, or you simply wish to discuss some of your questions, we are here for you. We can help you find a doctor to assess your child, or even give you a curated list of teen rehab facilities that specialize in your child’s problem. Don’t wait to address an issue — now is the time to tackle this. Begin by calling us, and we can help you take it from there.
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- “Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol).” CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research). University of Maryland, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
- Johnston, Lloyd D., Patrick M. O’Malley, Richard A. Miech, Jerald G. Bachman, and John E. Schulenberg. “Monitoring the Future National Survey Results on Drug Abuse 1975–2013.” Overview – Key Findings on Adolescent Drug Use. National Institutes of Health, 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
- “Date Rape.” University of the Sciences in Philadelphia: A Science College. University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
- “Rohypnol Fast Facts.” National Drug Intelligence Center. U.S. Department of Justice, Aug. 2003. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
- “What is Rohypnol? Side Effects of Roofies & Date Rape Drugs.” Drug Free World: Substance & Alcohol Abuse, Education & Prevention. Foundation for a Drug-Free World, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
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