Rohypnol, the trade name for flunitrazepam, has been a concern for the
last few years because of its abuse as a "date rape" drug. People may
unknowingly be given the drug which, when mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate
a victim and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. Also, Rohypnol may be
lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.
Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects including muscle
relaxation and amnesia; it can also produce physical and psychological
dependence. In Miami, one of the first sites of Rohypnol abuse, poison control
centers report an increase in withdrawal seizures among people addicted to
Rohypnol is not approved for use in the United States and its
importation is banned. Illicit use of Rohypnol began in Europe in the 1970s and
started appearing in the United States in the early 1990s, where it became
known as "rophies," "roofies," "roach," "rope," and the "date rape"
Another very similar drug is now being sold as "roofies" in Miami,
Minnesota, and Texas. This is clonazepam, marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin and
in Mexico as Rivotril. It is sometimes abused to enhance the effects of heroin
and other opiates. Based on emergency room admission information, Boston, San
Francisco, Phoenix, and Seattle appear to have the highest use rates of
Since about 1990, GHB (gamma- hydroxybutyrate) has been abused in the
U.S. for euphoric, sedative, and anabolic (body building) effects. As with
Rohypnol and clonazepam, GHB has been associated with sexual assault in cities
throughout the country.
Reports from Detroit indicate liquid GHB is being used in nightclubs
for effects similar to those of Rohypnol. It is also common in the club scene
in Phoenix, Honolulu, and Texas, where it is known as "liquid ecstacy,"
"somatomax," "scoop," or "grievous bodily harm." In Miami, poison control
center calls have reflected problems associated with increased GHB use,
including loss of consciousness. In New York City, there have been reports of
GHB use among those in the fashion industry. In Atlanta, it is commonly used as
a synthetic steroid at fitness centers and gyms.
Coma and seizures can occur following abuse of GHB and, when combined
with methamphetamine, there appears to be an increased risk of seizure.
Combining use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and
difficulty breathing. GHB may also produce withdrawal effects, including
insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Because of concern about Rohypnol,
GHB, and other similarly abused sedative-hypnotics, Congress passed the
"Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996" in October 1996. This
legislation increased Federal penalties for use of any
controlled substance to aid in sexual
Information and educational materials on Rohypnol and GHB directed
toward college students are available from the Rape Treatment Center at Santa
Monica-UCLA Medical Center at 1-800-END-RAPE (1-800-363-7273). These materials
are also being distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice to law enforcement
agencies throughout the country.