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Rohypnol Fact Sheet

NCJ Number
Jennifer Lloyd
Date Published
February 2003
4 pages
This document discusses the effects, prevalence, and availability of the drug Rohypnol.
Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is a benzodiazepine, or a central nervous system depressant. It is 10 times more potent than Valium. It is legally manufactured and available by prescription for the short-term treatment of severe sleep disorders. Though widely available in Europe, Mexico, and Colombia, it is neither manufactured nor approved for sale in the United States. Illicit use began in the 1970's in Europe and in the early 1990's in the United States. Rohypnol, also known as the “date rape” drug, is a tasteless and odorless drug that, until recently, dissolved clear in liquid, which masked its presence. It comes in pill form and is usually sold in bubble packaging by the manufacturer, which can mislead users in the United States into believing it is safe and legal. Since 1999, the tablets, which turn blue in a drink to increase visibility, have been approved and marketed in 20 countries. The old non-colored tablets are still available. Rohypnol can be ingested orally, snorted, or injected. The effects begin within 15 to 20 minutes and may last for more than 12 hours. Metabolic properties are detectable in urine for up to 72 hours after ingestion. Individuals may experience a slowing of psychomotor performance, muscle relaxation, decreased blood pressure, sleepiness, and/or amnesia. Some adverse side effects are drowsiness, headaches, memory impairment, dizziness, nightmares, confusion, and tremors. Rohypnol can induce aggression and/or excitability. It is popular with youth because of its low cost. The predominant user age group is 13- to 30-years-old and users tend to be male. Colombian traffickers ship Rohypnol to the United States via mail services and/or couriers using commercial airlines. Distributors also travel to Mexico to obtain supplies and smuggle it into the United States Rohypnol is now the least available club drug in the United States. Effects of the drug are of particular concern in combination with alcohol and lead to anterograde amnesia, where events that occur during the time the drug was in effect are forgotten. It is unknown how many rapes/sexual assaults are facilitated by the drug. 1 table