What Are the Effects of Using Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is the brand name for Flunitrazepam, a Benzodiazepine which functions as a central nervous system depressant. The effects of Rohypnol are similar to the effects of Valium, but Rohypnol is about ten times more powerful. Like most Benzodiazepines, Rohypnol slows down the central nervous system by amplifying the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter which inhibits the activity of the brain’s neurons. When a person takes a Rohypnol pill, they will experience sedation and relaxation. At higher doses, Rohypnol will cause a person to fall asleep. In areas of the world where Rohypnol is legal, doctors prescribe it to their patients to treat insomnia and anxiety disorders.
In the United States, Rohypnol is a Schedule IV controlled substance. The drug bears this designation because it poses moderate risks for abuse, addiction, and overdose. The United States government has never approved Rohypnol as a legitimate medication. In fact, Rohypnol is a well-known date rape drug. For this reason, under the Drug Induced Rape Prevention Act, the crime of trafficking Rohypnol into the United States carries the same penalties as trafficking Schedule I, II, and III controlled substances. Nevertheless, drug smugglers continue to bring the drug into the United States from Europe and Latin America, where it remains legal.
Aside from its role in sexual crimes, people use Rohypnol as a recreational drug to get high, enhance the potency of marijuana and hallucinogens, and counteract the effects of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other illegal stimulants. Rohypnol users who take the drug as a pill usually start to experience its effects within 20 minutes and continue to experience them for at least twelve hours. Rohypnol users who want to experience the drug’s effects more quickly often crush Rohypnol into powder and snort it.
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The Effects of Rohypnol as a Date Rape Drug
Date rape drugs are substances that sexual predators use to incapacitate their victims to more easily assault them. Almost any drug, including alcohol, can function as a date rape drug. Anyone can fall victim to drug-assisted sexual assault, whether or not the victim knows the perpetrator. In the 1990s, Rohypnol became notorious as a drug for facilitating rape. A drink that has been “roofied” (spiked with Rohypnol) may not look, smell, or taste any different than it did before the drug was added. However, a Rohypnol-infused drink can quickly impact the way a person feels and acts.
If you suspect that you’ve had a drink laced with Rohypnol, you should immediately leave the scene, go to a safe, public place, find a trustworthy friend, and get medical help. The effects of a “roofied” drink often arise suddenly. They include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired muscle control
- Severe intoxication, even without drinking much alcohol
- Slurred speech
- Trouble breathing
When combined with alcohol, Rohypnol may cause blackouts in consciousness and memory. These blackouts can last for as long as 24 hours. Victims of Rohypnol-assisted sexual assault may wake up without remembering anything after they started drinking, including how they arrived where they are or what happened to them while they were unconscious.
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Rohypnol Side Effects and Overdose
For people who take Rohypnol as medication for anxiety and insomnia, there are numerous potential side effects. The side effects of Rohypnol are usually not life-threatening, but they can be painful and distressing. The side effects of Rohypnol are:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Loss of inhibition
- Slurred speech
- Visual disturbances
It is possible to overdose on Rohypnol. An overdose occurs when the effects of the drug overpower the body’s systems. A Rohypnol overdose most often occurs when someone takes the drugs while also drinking alcohol or using another depressant, especially another Benzodiazepine. A Rohypnol overdose can be life-threatening and requires medical attention.
The symptoms of a Rohypnol overdose are:
- Depressed heart rate
- Extreme sedation
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Speech impairment
- Trouble breathing
Rohypnol Addiction and Withdrawal
A person who repeatedly uses Rohypnol for recreation or to supplement the effects of other illegal drugs might develop Rohypnol addiction. Once someone uses Rohypnol, they begin to become tolerant to its effects. Unfortunately, tolerance may prompt someone to take Rohypnol in higher doses. While this increases the risk of overdose, it also accustoms the body to operating with the effects of Rohypnol on the central nervous system. Consequently, when a Rohypnol-tolerant person stops taking Rohypnol, their body will react adversely to its absence. A habitual Rohypnol user will develop a dependence disorder when they take Rohypnol to avoid withdrawal and feel normal.
The symptoms of Rohypnol withdrawal include:
- Intense anxiety
- Light sensitivity
- Muscle pain
- Sensations of tingling
- Numbness in the arms and legs
Unfortunately, withdrawal symptoms can sustain a person’s dependence on Rohypnol. When a person takes Rohypnol to avoid withdrawal and also craves the drug, they have developed an addiction disorder. Anyone can overcome addiction to Rohypnol and other Benzodiazepines with professional treatment at a rehab center. A treatment program for Rohypnol addiction will involve detox under medical supervision to break the cycle of withdrawal and relapse. No one should attempt to detox from Rohypnol alone because Rohypnol withdrawal can be fatal.
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Rohypnol is a dangerous drug, whether it be used for medication, leisure, or sexual violence. If you or someone you know is addicted to Rohypnol, it is important to get help right away. A Rohypnol disorder may result in serious health consequences. Please contact a dedicated treatment specialist to learn more about the many options for addiction treatment.
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