Rohypnol and GHB Basic Facts

Colorless, Tasteless, and Odorless

Drink on a bar

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Rohypnol and GHB emerged in the early 1990s as "drug-assisted assault" or date rape drugs. They are predominantly central nervous system depressants.

Also known as rophies, roofies, roach, rope, they are colorless, tasteless, odorless, and can be slipped into a drink and unknowingly ingested. Rohypnol is often used by teens and young adults frequenting the club scene.

Rohypnol is not sold legally in the United States. Manufactured by Roche, it is available by prescription in Europe and Latin American countries where it is used to treat insomnia. It is also used as a pre-anesthetic.

What Is Rohypnol?

Rohypnol, a brand name for flunitrazepam, is a strong sedative that slows down the central nervous system. When abused, it can be administered unknowingly and will debilitate victims, making their resistance to sexual or physical assault impossible. The drug affects the central nervous system and creates a drugged or drunk feeling.

Rohypnol is a small white tablet that is tasteless and odorless when mixed in a drink. It is usually taken orally in pill form but can also be crushed and snorted.

Rohypnol is predominately abused among teenagers and young adults, usually at raves and nightclubs.

Effects of Rohypnol

Rohypnol can cause blackouts, disorientation, and can inhibit one's ability to speak or move. It also can produce "anterograde amnesia," which means victims under the effects of the drugs may not recall events they experienced. If mixed with alcohol or other depressants, it can be lethal.

Rohypnol is addictive and produces physical and psychological dependence, causing withdrawal seizures among those addicted.

Similar Drugs to Rohypnol

Clonazepam, marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin, and alprazolam, marketed as Xanax are two similar drugs being abused and have replaced Rohypnol in certain parts of the country.

GHB

Street Names: Liquid Ecstasy, Soap, Easy Lay, Vita-G, Georgia Homeboy, Scoop, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid X, and Goop

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a central nervous system depressant. Until 1992, it was purchased over-the-counter often in health food stores and used primarily by bodybuilders because they believed it would reduce fat and build muscle.

GHB can be a tablet, capsule, white powder or clear liquid. It is usually mixed with a flavored drink or alcohol. It has a slight salty taste, which can easily be masked if mixed in a drink. It is colorless and odorless.

GHB has been used because of its euphoric and sedative effects. It has also been used by bodybuilders because they believe it has anabolic effects. GHB is one of the top drugs used to facilitate sexual assault and date rape.

Hazards of GHB

Coma and seizures can occur in those abusing GHB. Combining abuse of GHB with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. It is also known to produce withdrawal effects such as insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating.

Is GHB Addictive?

Regular use of GHB can quickly lead to physical and psychological dependency. Withdrawal can result in insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, delirium, disorientation, and hallucinations. Individuals withdrawing from GHB should see a physician because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Government Response

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 assault.

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Article Sources

  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. www.drugabuse.gov

  • US Drug Enforcement Administration. www.dea.gov.