Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is a benzodiazepine that produces similar effects to other central nervous depressants. Commonly known as “Roofies”, this specific benzodiazepine is infamously associated as a date-rape drug. Rohypnol is a potent tranquilizer that has the capacity to render individual unconscious within minutes, making Rohypnol abuse extremely dangerous. This powerful benzodiazepine is taken by mouth, crushed and snorted up the nose, injected, or dissolved into a liquid. In response to the growing reports implicating Rohypnol in drug-induced sexual assaults, the manufacturer reformulated the tablets in hopes of preventing potential abuse. 

Rohypnol now comes in the form of green tablets that include a dye that will turn blue when dissolved in liquid. The benzodiazepine Rohypnol is legally manufactured and available in approximately 60 countries around the world. However, Rophynol is no longer legally manufactured or approved for sale within the United States. Despite the efforts of the manufacturers and law enforcement, the original white tablets are still regularly available and sold illegally. Rohypnol abuse leads to tolerance and ultimately addiction, causing a dangerous combination of harmful side effects for the abuser.

Common Side Effects of Rohypnol Abuse

Rohypnol enters the bloodstream of users and victims quickly and the effects can be felt within 15-20 minutes after ingestion. The potent sedative effects of Rohypnol can last up to 12 hours as the peak effects of the drug typically take place between 45 minutes and two hours. During this time frame, users and victims tend to lose consciousness. Rohypnol users often experience extreme sedation, loss of motor functions, dizziness, and total loss of bodily control. Individuals who develop a tolerance to Rohypnol and eventually become addicted, are unable to stop what happens to them when intoxicated. Often times, users will have little to no recollection of what happened while they were under the influence of Rohypnol.

Rohypnol use can cause a number of dangerous effects which may last 12 hours or more, including:

  • Deep sedation
  • Amnesia
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Impaired motor function
  • Confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Aggression
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Excitability
  • Relaxation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Respiratory depression
  • Blackouts lasting up to 24 hours
  • Intoxication
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Poor decision making
  • Low heart rate/low blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Overdose
  • Coma 
  • Death

Individuals who abuse Rohypnol are susceptible to experiencing extreme drowsiness, headaches, memory impairment, nightmares, confusion, and tremors. However, some long-term Rohypnol users may experience aggression or excitability when under the influence of the drug.

Dangers of Rohypnol Tolerance

Excessive use of Rohypnol results in increased tolerance of the drug, requiring users to take larger doses over time in order to achieve the same effect. As regular use of this potent drug continues, the individual will begin to experience physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms will appear if the drug is discontinued.  

Withdrawal symptoms of Rohypnol can range in severity from mild to severe:

  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Tension
  • Numbness
  • Delirium
  • Shock
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Regular use of Rohypnol leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and ultimately addiction. Seizures caused by Rohypnol withdrawal often occur more than a week after cessation. Many individuals that are addicted to Rohypnol combine the drug with other substances such as cocaine and/or alcohol. Mixing alcohol with sedatives such as Rohypnol can be dangerous and potentially fatal as both act as central nervous system depressants – ultimately slowing breathing and heart rate. This potentially deadly combination may cause the body to shut down and cause the individual to go into respiratory distress. 

The following are some more potential dangers of Rohypnol abuse:

  • Tolerance and addiction to Rohypnol is similar to alcohol, withdrawals are worse than opiates
  • Potentially damaging to vital body organs
  • Serious impairment of an individual’s judgment and actions
  • Amnesiac effects that are often used as predatory tools for sex offenders and kidnappers
  • Alters the brain’s function well into recovery

Treatment for Rohypnol Addiction

Due to the dangerous health risks associated with Rohypnol tolerance levels and addiction, proper substance abuse treatment is recommended. Detox is medically supervised and designed to mitigate withdrawals while addressing potential mental health complications. Addiction treatment facilities often use a tapered approach that will slowly wean the client off Rohypnol until the body returns to its natural homeostasis. This approach often ensures the client is as safe and comfortable as possible while also addressing any underlying causes for addiction. Professional substance abuse treatment should include ongoing aftercare to monitor the symptoms of potential long-term side effects of Rohypnol addiction while also providing support and helping you maintain sustainable recovery.