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Everything You Need to Know About Rohypnol

Spring is often when we start thinking about vacations, and of course, high school and college students unwind from the pressures of academic life during spring break. But there’s danger in paradise: more vacationers at international resorts are reporting blackouts after consuming only one or two drinks, suggesting their drinks had been doctored. They awake hours later, many learning they had been robbed, sexually assaulted or otherwise injured. This was the case in a recent news article from a woman who visited a Mexican resort. She was allegedly drugged or “roofied” with Rohypnol, also known as “Mexican Valium” or the “date rape drug.”

What is Rohypnol and How Dangerous is It?

Rohypnol is known as Mexican Valium, circles, roofies, la rocha, roche, R2, rope and forget-me pill. (Its generic name is flunitrazepam.) While it’s not available in North America for sale or prescription, it’s legally prescribed in over 60 other countries and is widely available in Mexico, Colombia, and Europe where it is used for the treatment of insomnia and as a pre-anesthetic.

Rohypnol acts as a sedative, slowing motor skills, and its effects include amnesia, muscle relaxation and respiratory depression. It is 10 times more potent than diazepam (the generic name for Valium). Since Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant, combining it with alcohol intensifies these effects. The overdose risk of Rohypnol is high and becomes even higher when other mixed with alcohol.

Rohypnol is known as the “date rape drug.” Perpetrators lace women’s drinks when they’re not looking, and within the first few hours, the sedative effects slow motor skills and induce amnesia.

Increasingly, tourists at Mexican resorts are reporting blackouts after having only one or two drinks. They awake after a blackout to learn they had been robbed, sexually assaulted or otherwise injured.

Rohypnol is often smuggled into the U.S. since it’s legal for individuals to buy it in Mexico and bring it across the border. Drug enforcement officials report a significant increase in smuggling the drug into the U.S.

In addition to its harmful effects, it’s also highly addictive. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, tension, extreme anxiety, restlessness, muscle pain, light sensitivity, numbness and tingling of arms and legs – even seizures.

Rohypnol an intermediate acting benzodiazepine, sometimes called “benzos.” Other drugs in this class include Xanax (Alprazolam) and Valium (Diazepam).

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of Rohypnol, call the police immediately.

How do I protect myself?

Here are some precautions you can take to make sure you don’t become a victim of Rohypnol drugging:

  • Don’t accept open drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) from someone you don’t know or trust.
  • Take your drink directly from the bartender. Don’t take your eyes off him or her or your order. Don’t let the server or someone else go to the bar for you.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Protect your friends and loved ones. If they seem intoxicated or drowsy, get them away from the situation.

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Positive Sobriety Institute Editors

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Positive Sobriety: The Book
Daniel H. Angres, MD

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