Rohypnol is a sedative that is illegal in the United States, but is prescribed in Europe and Mexico as a sleep aid and anesthetic. The drug's sedative and hypnotic effects are similar to those of Valium, but Rohypnol is 10 times more potent.
Rohypnol causes users to feel sedated, intoxicated, relaxed, and uninhibited for up to 12 hours. People may use Rohypnol to help 'come down' from a stimulant high or 'cure' a hangover. The drug is sometimes coupled with heroin, marijuana, or alcohol to intensify sedation. While most often swallowed in its pill form, to get a quicker high, some users snort or inject the drug.
Illicit use of Rohypnol began in Europe in the 1970s and the drug emerged on the U.S. drug scene in the 1990s. Today, Rohypnol, also called 'roofies,' can be purchased on the black market for as little as $5 a tablet. According to Monitoring the Future, Rohypnol abuse has remained steady in recent years, with about 1 percent of youth abusing Rohypnol in the past year.
Rohypnol can render users unconscious and cause amnesia, making them unable to recall what happened while they were under its influence. Because of these effects, the drug is used to facilitate sexual assaults. Rohypnol's manufacturer has added blue dye to the tablets so that they are visible when dissolved in drinks; however, perpetrators may put the tablets in blue-colored drinks so that the dye is invisible.
In addition to causing sedation, unconsciousness, and amnesia, Rohypnol lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles, and may cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, confusion, gastrointestinal problems, and difficulty with motor skills. All of these effects are exacerbated when alcohol or other drugs are used along with Rohypnol. Users can overdose on the drug, resulting in respiratory depression, coma, and death. Overdose most often happens when Rohypnol is taken in conjunction with alcohol.
Rohypnol is addictive, and suddenly stopping its use can lead to withdrawal, with symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and psychosis.
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