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Rohypnol: What You Must Know


Commonly referred to as the “date rape drug” or “ruffies”, rohypnol is an ephemeral benzodiazepine with properties similar to those of Valium. Rohypnol, aside from its illegal use, is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and as a pre-medication in surgical procedures. It must be noted that these medical uses are not used in the united States—the U.S. has never approved Rohypnol for medical use. The drug is, however, legally prescribed in over 50 countries throughout the world.

Similar to other benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium), the effects of Rohypnol include the following: muscle relaxation, reduced anxiety, sedation and prevention of convulsions--Rohypnol is 7 to 10 times more potent than Valium. The effects of “ruffies” will appear approximately 15 to 20 minutes after the drug is ingested and last for up to six hours.

Important Information Concerning Rohypnol:

Rohypnol is deemed a Schedule IV drug of the Controlled Substances Act. This classification yields the following characteristics:

• Schedule IV drugs have a low potential—relative to other drugs listed in Schedule III and above—for abuse
• Rohypnol and other drugs listed under Schedule IV have a currently accepted medical use (the legal use in the United States regarding medical use of Rohypnol is not affirmed)
• Abuse of Rohypnol and other drugs listed under Schedule IV may lead to limited psychological or physical dependence relative to other substances listed in the more severe schedules

Rohypnol causes transient amnesia; users will not recall certain events that they experienced while under Rohypnol. This effect is dangerous when the drug is used to aid in the commission of sexual crimes; a victim of sexual assault will not be able to recall the assault, the aggressor or the events precipitating the attack.

While Rohypnol is known for its use as a date-rape drug, it is often abused for other reasons, including rave parties and as a compliment to other dangerous drugs, such as heroin or cocaine. The drug is consumed orally or snorted and combined with alcohol to intensify the effects.

Rohypnol yields the following side effects: dizziness, loss of motor skills, lack of coordination, slurred speech, partial amnesia, slurred speech, drowsiness and respiratory depression for larger doses. Chronic use of the drug will result in a physical dependence and withdrawal.

Legal Issues Surrounding Rohypnol:

Although the drug is classified as legal in over 50 countries, Rohypnol is considered illegal in the United States. The drug is illegal because of its connection to sexual assaults and rapes; the high number of sexual attacks that involved the drug led the government to pass the Drug Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996. This legislation states that any person who uses drugs in coordination with a sexual attack will receive harsher punishments, such as longer prison sentences or higher fines. Possessing the drug—without committing or conspiring to commit a further crime—is punishable by a fine and up to three years in prison. Although the drug is categorized under Schedule IV, the penalties for use and possession reflect those listed in Schedule I.

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