Rohypnol Addiction and Abuse

Rohypnol is often known as the “date rape drug,” but it can also lead to Rohypnol addiction when overused.

Understanding Rohypnol Addiction

Rohypnol is a potent sedative drug that can have dangerous implications for many people who use it. While Rohypnol is illegal for all uses in the United States, it is often smuggled into the country from many locations around the world where it is legally manufactured and sold. Rohypnol abuse can lead to dependency, addiction, and fatal overdose.
Rohypnol, or flunitrazepam, is a drug that works as a potent central nervous system depressant. The drug is often used illegally to reduce feelings of depression that accompany stimulant use and is also commonly known as a “date rape drug.”1

Rohypnol has never received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States. In other areas like Mexico, Colombia, and Europe, Rohypnol is prescribed to treat insomnia and is also used as a pre-anesthetic. Rohypnol is known by several street names including roofies, wolfies, forget-me-pill, ropes, and roaches, among several others.2

Rohypnol Addiction

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What Does Rohypnol Do?

Rohypnol acts upon the body in a similar manner to other benzodiazepines. Its powerful sedative qualities can lead to physical and psychological addiction. It is often used with other sedative drugs, such as alcohol, to produce exaggerated effects. Because Rohypnol can have several desirable side effects for some users, it is not uncommon for people who struggle with a dependency on other benzodiazepines to experiment with Rohypnol.

What Causes Rohypnol Addiction?

The causes of Rohypnol addiction are similar to those of other drugs. It is important to remember that some people are exposed to the powerful effects of Rohypnol unwillingly. Unfortunately, like several other powerful benzodiazepine drugs, dependence or addiction to the physical effects of Rohypnol can occur after just one dose. Therefore, the safest and most effective way to overcome an addiction to Rohypnol is to seek help at a professional treatment center. Here are some of the causes of Rohypnol addiction.

Genetic Predisposition

There are several potential causes of Rohypnol addiction. One possible cause is genetic predisposition. Genetics, or the biology one is born with, is believed to contribute to a wide variety of addictive behaviors. Like other drugs in the same class, Rohypnol affects the way the brain releases dopamine into your body. Research is ongoing into how one’s brain chemistry may impact dependency on dopamine and other effects of Rohypnol on the brain.3

Addictive Nature

Another potential cause of Rohypnol addiction is the addictive quality of the drug itself. Some drugs are more potent than others, and therefore, the possibility of developing a physical or psychological addiction to their effects is far stronger. The side effects of Rohypnol are powerful, and addiction to those effects can develop quickly. It is also important to remember that, like similar drugs, the withdrawal symptoms of Rohypnol can be dangerous. It is crucial to detox from Rohypnol in a medically supervised setting.

Environmental Factors

One’s environment or surroundings may also contribute to Rohypnol addiction. When one is surrounded by drugs and alcohol, it is not uncommon for that individual to experiment with substances as well. When adolescents or teens grow up in an environment where substances are used as a coping mechanism, they grow to understand substances can be an effective way to manage physical and mental health symptoms. Additionally, Rohypnol is a recreational drug frequently used in bars, raves, or parties. In some cases, “peer pressure” can lead to Rohypnol experimentation and Rohypnol addiction.

Emotional Release

Although not legal in the United States, people use Rohypnol to manage feelings of depression or emotional distress. Because the effects of Rohypnol include a sense of calm and relaxation, it can help those struggling with stress, trauma, or other challenges manage their discomfort.

Signs and Symptoms of Rohypnol Addiction

The effects of Rohypnol are felt quickly, generally within fifteen to twenty minutes, and the effects of the drug can last for up to twelve hours or more. The effects of Rohypnol are up to 10 times more potent than those of Valium. Like many other similar substances, the signs and symptoms of Rohypnol addiction can be physical or psychological.4

Physical Symptoms

The physical signs of addiction to Rohypnol may include:
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness
  • Loss of motor control
  • Stomach problems
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Problems with urination
  • Problems with breathing
  • Tremors
While these are some of the signs of addiction, they can also be signs of someone who has unknowingly been dosed with Rohypnol. It’s important to keep an eye out in case you or a loved one display any of these signs while out at a bar or club.

Psychological Symptoms

In addition to physical effects, someone struggling with addiction may experience the psychological side effects of Rohypnol addiction. These can include difficulties with memory, long-term cognitive challenges, nightmares, anxiety, and depression.

Side Effects and Risks of Rohypnol Addiction and Abuse

The side effects of Rohypnol abuse range include both mild or severe short- and long-term effects. Rohypnol acts as a potent central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows function within the brain and reaction time throughout your body. Those who use Rohypnol, whether willingly or unwillingly, describe the effects as paralyzing. Combined with alcohol, this can produce a dangerous and possibly fatal effect. In addition to slowed communication, the effects of Rohypnol on the brain can include headaches, sedation, reduced inhibitions, short-term amnesia, nightmares, blackouts, and long-term memory problems.5

Long-Term Effects

With ongoing abuse, the long-term effects of Rohypnol abuse can include physical and emotional dependence, the collapse of the cardiovascular system, and even potential death due to Rohypnol overdose. Additionally, those who abuse Rohypnol and develop a physical or psychological dependency on the drug’s effects will experience Rohypnol withdrawal symptoms should they try to reduce or stop using.6

Risks of Rohypnol

Using Rohypnol is not without risk. Although the drug remains illegal for all uses in the United States, the potential for addiction remains high. Rohypnol has also gained notoriety as a “date rate drug.” Because Rohypnol produces high levels of sedation and can lead to paralyzing effects followed by amnesia and blackouts, someone who consumes a beverage spiked with Rohypnol can become the victim of sexual assault and not realize what has happened until it’s too late. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know Rohypnol could be put in drinks as alcohol often masks the taste. It’s important to stay vigilant at all times.

When combined with another drug that produces depressive effects, such as alcohol, the risk of Rohypnol overdose vastly increases. When two are combined, it can lead to overdose symptoms, including difficulties breathing, slowed heart rate, extreme sedation, and unconsciousness. In some cases, respiratory and cardiac functions are slowed to the point at which they cannot sustain life.7

Rohypnol Withdrawal

When someone struggles with Rohypnol addiction, it can be difficult to stop using it without help. Like other drugs, when physical or psychological dependency on Rohypnol develops, the person experiences an overwhelming need to use it regardless of the known harms. If someone stops using the drug after actively using it for an extended period of time, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is the body’s way of reacting, sometimes painfully, if drugs they are used to are not in the system anymore.

Rohypnol withdrawal symptoms can include a variety of physical and emotional reactions. Depending on the severity of the addiction, symptoms may be mild or severe. They often include hallucinations, confusion, numbness, headaches, muscle pains, and convulsions. Additionally, Rohypnol withdrawal can lead to seizures in the worst cases. For some people, seizures and other withdrawal symptoms may occur up to one week after the last dose. Getting help for withdrawal symptoms at a treatment center is the safest option.

Treatment for Rohypnol Addiction and Abuse

If you or a loved one struggle with a Rohypnol addiction, the safest path toward recovery is to seek help at a treatment center like Concise Recovery.

Rohypnol Addiction

Detox

Often, the first step for any addiction treatment program is detox. Detoxing allows the body the time it needs to safely cleanse itself of the effects of toxic substances such as Rohypnol. During detox, trained medical and mental health providers will provide support and guidance to help you or a loved one manage difficult withdrawal symptoms.

Therapeutic Program

After detox, you will transition into a therapeutic program to help you understand more about Rohypnol addiction and relapse prevention tools you can use to help manage harmful situations in the future. Understanding the root causes of addiction and why you used drugs can help you maintain lasting sobriety well into the future. The type of therapy models and the duration of treatment will depend on a variety of factors unique to you, including the severity of your addiction, whether other drugs were used in addition to Rohypnol, and whether you struggle with a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Opportunities for Healing at Concise Recovery

These factors will help your providers at Concise Recovery determine the best course of treatment to help achieve lasting recovery. To learn more about Rohypnol addiction treatment and how to put struggles with this dangerous drug in the past, contact us at Concise Recovery today to learn more about detox and treatment.