Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) Addiction- The Dangers, Risks, and Recovery Options
Written By: Robert Castan | Edited By: Editorial Team | Last Updated: June 10, 2021
Springboard Recovery provides effective treatment for substance use & mental health disorders.
Table of Contents
- What are the Street Names for Rohypnol?
- What is the History of Rohypnol?
- What are the Side Effects of Rohypnol?
- What is the Difference Between Rohypnol Abuse and Addiction?
- How Does a Person Know if They are Addicted to Rohypnol? Look for the Signs
- Recovering from Rohypnol Addiction
- SpringBoard Recovery Offers Treatment for Rohypnol Addiction
Our outpatient drug treatment program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.
Rohypnol is now illegal in the United States due to this drug being used to commit sexual acts on people. If someone is caught with possession of only 1 gram of this drug, the penalties are the same as Schedule I substances even though this drug is in the Schedule IV Benzos. The penalty is not less than 5 years, not more than 40 years. In the event that someone is killed or seriously injured as a result of possession, the penalty is not less than 20 years or more than life. It is a serious drug to have in possession.
Teenagers and adults, ages 13 to 30, are primary abusers of Rohypnol and most users are males. This drug is popular at high schools, college campuses, raves, and nightclubs. There is a concern that nearly 2% of all seniors have used Rohypnol at least once.
What are the Street Names for Rohypnol?
Rohypnol is not used in the United States for medical purposes. However, people still are able to purchase it on the streets. They are able to get it online through the dark web. Dealers and people addicted to Rohypnol will refer to this drug by its street names:
- Forget Me Pills
- La Rocha
- Lunch Money Drug
- Mexican Valium
- Roach 2
- Forget Pill
What is the History of Rohypnol?
Most people have heard of “the date rape drug.” The brand name for this drug is Rohypnol. It is illegal in the United States. However, it is available by prescription and used in many countries around the world including, Mexico, South America, Asia, and Europe. It is one of the most widely used benzodiazepine drugs.
Rohypnol was first invented in the 1970s by the pharmaceutical firm of Hoffman-La Roche. It was first sold in Switzerland in 1975 to help people who suffered with insomnia. It was also used as an anesthetic before surgeries including heart surgeries even in infants. Over time, this drug was used by doctors in 64 countries.
As Rohypnol was introduced to Europe in the 1970s, stories of it being misused as a “party” recreational drug began to surface. It was often used in combination with other drugs such as alcohol.
There was a time that people believed that benzodiazepine drugs were not as harmful and dangerous as barbiturates. However, over time it became known that they were every bit as harmful and dangerous and should not be used without a prescription.
In 1997, Rohypnol became banned in the United States. Anyone found with possession of this drug can be facing a hefty prison sentence. Before this ban, one study found that Rohypnol was second only to Valium as the most common drug declared at the United States crossing borders in Texas. According to this study, an average of 4,000 Rohypnol pills were being declared each day by Americans returning back to the United States from Mexico. Even though it has been banned, that has not stopped it from becoming used throughout the United States. It is a real problem because it is used in such a harmful way to violate others.
What are the Side Effects of Rohypnol?
People take Rohypnol for the euphoric feeling they receive within a short time of taking it. They enjoy getting “high” from it.
Like other Benzodiazepines, Rohypnol slows down the functioning of the central nervous system producing the following side effects on the mind:
- Deep sleep (pharmacological hypnosis)
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased or decreased reaction time
- Impaired mental judgment and functioning
The following are the side effects on the body:
- Slurred speech
- Loss of motor coordination
- Respiratory depression
When Rohypnol is taken over a long period of time it causes the body to become physically dependent on this drug. People who are physically dependent will have withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not in their system. They also become psychologically dependent on the drug, feeling as though they cannot live without it.
What is the Difference Between Rohypnol Abuse and Addiction?
Many people use the terms “abuse” and “addiction” interchangeably. However, they are not to be used that way. They are two very different things. The following criteria defines what it means to abuse a drug:
- The abuse of a drug leads to poor school or work performance.
- The individual uses the drug in situations such as driving and may cause harm to themselves or someone else.
- The person abusing drugs may incur some legal charges due to using the substance.
- The person abusing the drugs begins to have relationship issues with family and friends.
The following criteria define what it means to have a drug addiction:
- The person begins to build a tolerance for the drug. They have to take more and more of the drug to get the desired effect of it.
- The person experiences withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available. These symptoms include physical and psychological symptoms such as: nausea, sleeplessness, muscle aches. The length of time it takes to get through these withdrawal symptoms is dependent on the severity of the addiction and the length of time the person has been addicted.
- The inability to not take the drug anymore. The person may try to stop but keeps relapsing.
- The person continues to increase the amount of the drug they are taking. They do not intend to keep increasing but they have lost control.
- The person obsessively thinks about the drug throughout the day. All they can think about is how they can get more. It has taken over their lives.
How Does a Person Know if They are Addicted to Rohypnol? Look for the Signs
When people are addicted to Rohypnol, they will exhibit the following signs:
- Intoxicated feeling similar to alcohol
- Amnesia (not being able to remember, total blackout)
- Unable to socialize with people normally
- Slurred speech
- Impaired reaction time and poor motor coordination
Loved ones should be on the lookout for those signs of addiction. It is also important to know that people addicted to Rohypnol often will combine it with other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine. People combining these drugs should seek medical help immediately. It is dangerous and has deadly consequences.
Recovering from Rohypnol Addiction
The first step to recovery from a Rohypnol addiction is to seek medical help in a detox program. This drug has a high potential for abuse and addiction. During a detox program, quality medical doctors will provide round the clock supervision and care to help get people through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms of this drug. Rohypnol is 10x stronger than Valium so it is vital that people do not try to quit this drug on their own. It is dangerous to try quitting without the proper medical support. People detoxing from this drug will likely experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Extreme anxiety
- Numbness or tingling of hands or feet
- Mood swings
- Muscle tension and aches
When people begin the detoxification process in order to rid the body of Rohypnol, the first step is often to slowly lower the amount the person is taking. It is important not to do this first step too quickly. Some of the withdrawal symptoms such as seizures can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Medically-supervised detox is the safest way to rid the body of dependence on this drug. Doctors will often prescribe benzodiazepines to help lessen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. They will also include good nutrition and other holistic and therapeutic services that will help increase the full recovery of the patient. The timeline for the detoxification process is dependent upon how long patients have been on the drug, the amount used, whether or not there are underlying mental and health issues. It can take anywhere between 5 days to a few weeks. Just as with other benzodiazepines, Rohypnol withdrawal can be split up into 2 phases: acute withdrawal phase and protracted withdrawal phase.
The acute withdrawal phase can expect to last 5 to 10 days. During this time, patients will exhibit common withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue. Seizures can occur during this time so it is imperative that medical attention and support is provided during this phase.
The protracted withdrawal phase occurs after the acute withdrawal phase. This phase can last between a few weeks to 18 months. This phase is also known as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms). During this phase, patients experience many withdrawal symptoms that seem to come in waves followed by a time of normalcy.
When patients get through the detoxification process, they will be given clearance to continue their journey to a full recovery in a rehab facility in which they will receive much-needed counseling and support.
SpringBoard Recovery Offers Treatment for Rohypnol Addiction
At SpringBoard Recovery, we provide quality care and support to many people who struggle with Benzodiazepine addictions including Rohypnol. We acknowledge that this addiction is serious and should be taken very seriously. Our program is designed to provide for the unique and personalized goals and needs of each person that enters our program. Personalized care is our aim because we know that everyone who enters our facility will have an individualized care plan with goals included in which our support will be needed in order for them to be successful in reaching.
SpringBoard Recovery will work with you as soon as you make the call to find out what we offer and how we can provide for your needs to live a life free from drug addiction. You will first go through detoxification under the supervision and care of qualified staff. Once you have completed that first step and received clearance, you will be provided a treatment team to support you as you enter into our rehab program. You will be given questionnaires, a full medical examination by quality doctors, and you will speak to a psychologist and a therapist. Your goals and personalized plan will be determined by the data we receive from these examinations and questionnaires.
During rehab treatment, you will participate in individual therapy, group therapy, various activities throughout the day, exercise, and nutritious meals. You will begin to benefit from the peer support you receive as you go through group therapy. Your day will be filled with positive energy from our staff and other patients. You will begin to learn more about why you became an addict and what has led you to the point in which you knew that it was time to get sober. It will be a time of learning and renewal as you navigate through our program. We are here to support you in your full recovery. When you are ready to leave our program, you will be armed with a team of professionals ready to provide you with the support you will need as you move from rehab back into your daily life. Please contact us today and get started in your new life of sobriety.
- NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424847/table/appd.t18/
- National Drug Intelligence Center: https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6074/6074p.pdf
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/rohypnol
- Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/rohypnol
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/druguseandaddiction.html
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323459
- NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424847/table/appd.t18/