Rohypnol is a strong hypnotic sedative, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, amnestic, and skeletal muscle relaxant drug. Rohypnol is sold in other countries under the trade names Flunitrazepam, Hipnosedon, Hypnodorm, Flunipam, Nilium, Vulbegal, Silece, Darkene, Ilman, Insom and Fluscand. The street name for Rohypnol is “roofie.”
Despite the fact that Rohypnol is still classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, it is no longer commercially available in the United States.
Due to its misuse and overuse, particularly as a so-called “date rape” drug, the DEA is recommending that Rohypnol be reclassified to Schedule I.
Rohypnol was prescribed for treatment of chronic or severe insomnia in patients that were not responsive to other hypnotics. It was intended to be administered on a short-term basis under controlled conditions such as with inpatient treatment.
Rohypnol became known as a “date rape” drug due to its high potency, sudden and strong effects, and its ability to cause amnesia during its duration.
Individuals who have been given Rohypnol without their knowledge are unable to remember events that they experienced while under the influence of the drug. Victims of sexual assault may be unable to clearly recall the assault, the assailant, or the events surrounding the assault.
Rohypnol is also frequently as a recreational drug by high school and college students, particularly at so-called “rave parties.” It is also used by heroin or opiate users to increase the effects of these drugs or to ease the effects of withdrawal. Cocaine and methamphetamine users often use Rohypnol to counteract insomnia, paranoia, and tremors, or to soften the so-called “crash” which follows heavy stimulant use.
Adverse effects include both physical and psychological dependence, reduced sleep quality resulting in somnolence, and overdose resulting in excessive sedation, impairment of balance and speech, respiratory failure, coma, and death.
Prolonged and high-dosage use of Rohypnol can lead to physical dependence as well as and what is known as the “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome,” which is characterized by seizures, psychosis, severe insomnia and extreme anxiety. Rebound insomnia, worse than baseline insomnia, typically occur after discontinuation of Rohypnol, even after short term use.
Rohypnol can create paradoxical symptoms in some individuals, including anxiety, agitation, confusion, talkativeness, loss of impulse control, violent behavior, and convulsions.
Overdose of Rohypnol may result in excessive sedation, impairment of balance, and slurred speech. Severe overdoses may result in respiratory failure, coma, and possibly death.
Risk of overdose is increased if the drug is taken in combination with depressants such as alcohol and opiates.