A pharmaceutical drug used by very sick individuals to perform date rape on unsuspecting female (and sometimes male) victims. Apparently it is nothing short of perfect for committing such a heinous crime. Rohypnol is sold in many parts of the world as a tranquilizer.

Needless to say, this substance should be wiped off the face of the Earth as soon as possible. But the company manufacturing it is more interested in making profit than protecting human beings.

Rohypnol is a brand name for flunitrazepam.
It comes in pill form and is ten times more powerful than Valium. Common names include Roofies, Roche, Rib, Roachies and Stupefi. Rohypnol can be fatal, especially when combined with alcohol. It is illegal in the United States. Rohypnol is odorless, colorless, and tasteless and dissolves within seconds in any type of beverage. Within 15 to 30 minutes of taking the drug, a person can experience the following symptoms:

mental confusion/dizziness
hot and cold spells
inability to speak clearly
decreased blood pressure
amnesia which can last up to eight hours.

The effects of Rohypnol peak within two hours, can last 8-12 hours and may not fully wear off for several days.

Here in Texas, rohypnol, and its cousin rivetrol, are everywhere. Though quite illegal in the States, people smuggle them over the border from Mexican farmacias in lots of a few hundred, and sell them at a markup of five to ten times the price in Mexico. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Every punch bowl at every frat party here is laced with roofies, often with a subtle yet piquant mix of Everclear and sometimes codeine or vicodin. Calling this dangerous doesn't really cover it - if you drink enough, this mix is potentially very, very lethal. To Hoffman-LaRoche's credit, they've funded free testing through Student Health Services here, but that's pretty cold comfort that you only find out the day after the night before.

Of course, rohypnol's only use isn't as a date rape drug; it's a very powerful tranquilizer, and there will be always be people who take tranquilizers for fun. Most people I know that take the family of "roches" for recreation either take the pills straight or crush them up and smoke them with a bowl of weed. Of course, cultivating a serious downer habit is always dangerous, and rohypnol's ludicrously more powerful than, say, valium. While not (at least so far as I'm aware) physically addictive, users grow psychologically habituated fairly quickly, and to generalize grossly, the personality type that's attracted to tranquilizer abuse in the first place is generally inclined to take things to excess. Take too many roofies, with or without alcohol, and you put yourself at a serious risk for total respiratory arrest. To put things in layman's terms, you get so lazy that breathing just seems like too much trouble.

In response to break's writeup, I think that eradicating rohypnol from the world isn't really a solution. It just might be possible from a technical point of view, since rohypnol's a fairly complex synthetic drug, and can't just be refined from a plant, but it wouldn't really fix anything. People would use other drugs for date rape, like GHB, which can be synthesized in a kitchen with a few simple precursors, or the hoary old standby of alcohol, which isn't about to go away anytime soon. A better question to ask would be why our culture creates a situation where a significant minority of the young male population feels that getting laid by drugging a girl into insensibility is a fun way to spend a night out.

Generic name is flunitrazepam, it's a benzodiazipene type hypnotic tranquilizer. Yes, they are terrible things when misused in various ways, but speaking from personal experience they are extremely useful when used for their intended purpose. It has the effect of inducing very deep and restful sleep fairly quickly, even under difficult circumstances like insomnia, over-intake of stimulants, jetlag, etc. Where I come from they are often called "asshole pills".

Rohypnol is a a benzodiazepine drug prescribed to treat short term anxiety and insomnia. It has the same basic structure as all benzodiazepines, a class of drug that includes Valium, Xanax, Ativan and Halcion. The structural difference between rohypnol and these other drugs is its possession of a fluorine atom and a NO2 group. There are some two dozen benzodiazepines commonly used, and the difference between them is in the replacement of an atom by another atom. These changes cause slight changes in the profile of how they work, but they all have the same effects and side-effects: relaxation, sleepiness, relief from anxiety, muscle relaxation. In other words, they are all sedatives. The difference between rohypnol and these other drugs in effect is that it has a shorter onset of action, and has a relatively shorter half-life, although not markedly so.

Rohypnol is legal for prescription in Europe, but illegal in the United States. In the United States, it is most known by the slang name roofies and is a "date rape drug", due to its quick onset of action, and its ability to produce a black out state with anteretrograde amnesia. However, these are the same effects and side-effects as all benzodiazepines. As far as I know, Rohypnol is no stronger or quicker acting than either Ativan or Halcion. Much of what is reported about drugs like these, especially in their non-clinical use, is anecdotal.

So while Rohypnol might be, and probably is, slightly more likely to produce black out conditions than other benzodiazepines, the entire reputation of Rohypnol as a date rape drug is something that might not be based on its actual medical effects. In other words, there is a difference between Rohypnol, a benzodiazepine that is not that different in structure and effect from some of the most popularly prescribed drugs in the country, and "roofies", an insidious and evil substance that is used for rape and theft. Somehow, with the addition of a fluorine atom and a nitro group, a chemical substance can become "evil". This is a not uncommon view of the world, even amongst medical and scientific professionals who should know better.

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