What to Know About Rohypnol

Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) blister pack of 2 mg tablets

 United States DEA / Wikimedia Commons

Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine that's most commonly known as the "date rape drug." It is not approved for manufacture, sale, or use in the United States. Though the drug has medicinal applications, illicit use of its powerful sedative effects is most known for aiding sexual assault by incapacitating those who take it.

Also Known As: Rohypnol is also known as the date rape drug, rophies, roofies, R2, roofenol, roche, roach-2, roachies, la rocha, rope, roopies, ropies, rib, circles, Mexican valium, the forget pill, trip-and-fall, and mind-erasers.

Drug Class: Like other benzodiazepines, Rohypnol is classified as a depressant.

Common Side Effects: Rohypnol is known to cause blackouts, disorientation, decreased the ability to speak or move, and anterograde amnesia.

How to Recognize Rohypnol

Rophypnol was initially manufactured as a colorless, tasteless, and odorless round white tablet. As a result, it was easily slipped into a drink and unknowingly ingested. In response to the drug’s role in sexual assaults, the manufacturer reformulated the drug to be an oblong, olive-green tablet with a speckled-blue core that when dissolved will dye a light-colored liquid blue. However, generic versions may not contain the blue dye.

What Does Rohypnol Do?

Rohypnol is a strong sedative that slows down the central nervous system. When misused, 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 has physiological effects similar to Valium (diazepam)—but it is approximately 10 times more potent. Intoxication is generally associated with impaired judgment and motor skills. The drug has no taste or odor, so those given it don't realize what is happening.

Rohypnol is also sometimes used recreationally as a party or club drug. It is often combined with alcohol to produce an exaggerated high. People who misuse multiple substances might also use Rohypnol to relieve side effects. For example, some take it to lessen the irritability and agitation experienced during cocaine withdrawal. 

What the Experts Say

Rohypnol use has been reported on every inhabited continent. It is often used in conjunction with other drugs and is usually ingested orally, though it can be snorted.

The drug is more commonly used by teens and young adults ages 13 to 30 than older adults, and males are more likely to use it than females. When taken intentionally, it's typically used as an alcohol extender in an attempt to create a dramatic "high," most often in combination with beer. It is also used to curb the unpleasant comedown from drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, or amphetamines. Its best-known use, however, is to slip into someone's drink to incapacitate a victim to facilitate sexual assault. 

The drug's low cost (sold for about $5 per tablet) makes it more accessible.

Off-Label and Approved Uses

Rohypnol is not manufactured or sold legally in the United States where it is classified as a Schedule IV drug. However, it is produced by Hoffman-La Roche and sold legally with a prescription in Europe and Latin America, where it is used as a short-term treatment for insomnia, a sedative-hypnotic, and a pre-anesthetic.

Common Side Effects

Within 10 minutes of ingesting the drug, a person may feel nauseous, too hot and too cold (at the same time), as well as dizzy and disoriented. The person may experience difficulty speaking and moving, and then the loss of consciousness. Effects peak within two hours and can persist for up to eight hours. Someone who has knowingly or unknowingly taken Rohypnol may have no memories of what happened while under the drug's influence.

Common side effects of roofies include:

  • Blackouts
  • Disorientation
  • Inability to speak or move
  • Loss of social inhibitions
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Memory impairment
  • Drowsiness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Urinary retention

The combination of alcohol and Rohypnol is particularly hazardous—even lethal.

When taken together, the effects of alcohol and Rohypnol on memory and judgment are greater than those experienced when taking one alone. People who become intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and Rohypnol can have "blackouts" lasting eight to 24 hours following ingestion.

Signs of Use

The following signs may indicate that you've been given Rohypnol ("roofied"):

  • Feeling drunk without having drunk large amounts (or any) alcohol
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Not remembering how you got to a location
  • Waking up feeling confused or hungover
  • Not having any memory after having a drink

If your friend or loved one has taken Rohypnol (knowingly or unknowingly), you may notice the following:

  • Reduced inhibitions or ability to make a decision
  • Exaggerated intoxication
  • Aggressive or excited behavior
  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased or decreased reaction time

When to Get Help

High doses of Rohypnol, especially when combined with alcohol and heroin, can cause an overdose. Call 911 immediately if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Severe sedation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Slowed or troubled breathing

Myths & Common Questions

The rise in usage of roofies among teenagers is thought to be tied to some common misconceptions about the drug, including the erroneous belief that the drug's pre-sealed packaging means that the supply could not have been adulterated. Many teens also mistakenly believe that the drug cannot be detected by a urine test.

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

Recreational use of roofies can result in tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms. When tolerance occurs, people require more of the drug to achieve the same effects they felt originally. Dependence is often marked by continued use to mitigate the harsh effects of withdrawal.

How Long Does Rohypnol Stay in Your System?

Like other benzodiazepines, Rohypnol is detectable in blood and urine, but unlike other drugs of this type, it is often used in such small doses and is so quickly metabolized that it may not be detectable in standard drug screens.

Rohypnol typically passes out of the system within 24 hours, which is why it is important to call 911 or go to the hospital immediately if you think you've been drugged.

If you believe that you believe that you have experienced a sexual assault, the Office on Women's Health also recommends that you wait to do the following until you've been seen by a medical professional so they may be able to collect evidence:

  • Urinate
  • Douche
  • Bathe
  • Shower
  • Wash your hands
  • Brush your teeth or hair
  • Change clothes
  • Eat or drink

Addiction

If a teen is repeatedly using roofies as an alcohol extender, addiction is possible. Like other types of drugs, there are some telltale signs to watch for when a loved one is experiencing Rohypnol addiction including:

  • Drug-seeking behaviors (preoccupation with getting and using roofies, even if done illegally)
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Continued use despite problems at school, work, and home
  • Sudden change in friends
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that don't involve drug use
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon stopping the drug

Withdrawal

Regular use of Rohypnol can lead to symptoms of withdrawal when you suddenly stop taking the drug. Since some of these symptoms can be fatal, it's best to detox from the drug under medical supervision.

How to Get Help

If you think that you have been a victim of Rohypnol-facilitated sexual assault, notify the authorities immediately. You can find out more about Rohypnol by contacting the National Institute on Drug Abuse (888-NIH-NIDA) or the National Women's Health Information Center (800-994-9662).

If you suspect a loved one is misusing roofies for recreational purposes, consider seeking guidance from a healthcare professional who can work with you to stage a clinical intervention and help your loved one get proper addiction treatment, which may include inpatient detoxification and management of withdrawal symptoms.

Steps to Protect Yourself

A big part of staying safe from roofies is knowing how to protect yourself.

  • Be wary about accepting drinks from anyone you don't know or trust.
  • If you are accepting a drink, make sure it's from an unopened container and that you open it yourself.
  • Don't put your drink down and leave it unattended, even to use the restroom.
  • Notify your friends about the effects of this dangerous drug and learn how to identify signs of Rohypnol intoxication.
Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Rohypnol.

  2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide (2017 Edition).

  3. U.S. National Institutes of Health: ToxNet. Flunitrazepam.

  4. Lehne RA. Pharmacology For Nursing Care (8th Edition). Elsevier Saunders. 2018.

  5. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Get smart about drugs: Rohypnol.

  6. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol).

  7. Shoup K. Rohypnol. Cavendish Square Publishing. 2015.

  8. Virginia State University. Roofies: The Date Rape Drug.

  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office on Women’s Health. Date Rape Drugs.

  10. Peatfield R, Villalón CM. Headache after exposure to 'date-rape' drugs. Springerplus. 2013;2(1):39. doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-39

  11. Constantino RE, Crane PA, Young SE. Forensic Nursing: Evidence-Based Principles and Practice. F.A. Davis Company. 2012.

  12. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. Tolerance, Dependence, Addiction: What's the Difference?.

  13. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

  14. U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are some signs and symptoms of someone with a drug use problem?.

  15. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of the Surgeon General. Appendix D: Important facts about alcohol and drugs.