What Is Rohypnol?

The website www.AboveTheInfluence.com reports that Rohypnol started appearing in the U.S. in the early 1990s. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), teenagers and young adults from 13 to 30 are the principal users of Rohypnol. Most users are male. Popular on high school and college campuses, the drug is also increasingly evident on the club and rave scene.

The NDIC states that Rohypnol is a particular problem among high school students. Nearly 2 percent of high school seniors reported using Rohypnol at least one time during the past year, according to data from the University of Michigan Monitoring the Future Survey.

Illegal for sale or importation, Rohypnol is usually smuggled into the U.S. by mail or delivery services. Pharmaceutical operators in Mexico, and particularly in Tijuana, have a readily available supply.

What it is

Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant. Its trade name is flunitrazepam. A benzodiazepine, Rohypnol is chemically similar to Valium or Xanax. Legally prescribed in some 50 countries outside the U.S. and widely available in Mexico, Colombia and Europe, where it is used to treat insomnia and as a pre-anesthetic, it is not manufactured in this country. Since there is no medically approved use for the drug, it is not permitted to be sold here and is banned for importation into the U.S.

Common street names

Most common names on the street for Rohypnol are forget-me drug, roche, roofies and ruffles. Other street names include: circles, forget-me pill, forget pill, la rocha, lunch money drug, Mexican valium, pingus, R-2, Reynolds, roach-2, roaches, roachies, roapies, robutal, rochas dos, rope, rophies, rophy, ropies, row-shay, ruffies and wolfies.

How to identify Rohypnol

The drug almost always comes in a pill or tablet form, although it can also be a powder. Originally, Rohypnol was colorless, odorless and tasteless, available in 2 mg doses, but the drug manufacturer, Hoffman-LaRoche, now has reduced the pill strength (1 mg), and colored it an olive green tablet, and imprinted it with the number 542. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), whose information comes from Hoffman-LaRoche, the new pill includes a dye that is visible when slipped into a drink.

How Rohypnol is used

Rohypnol is usually consumed orally, often combined with alcohol. Abuse occurs by crushing the tablets and snorting the powder. Heroin and cocaine abusers sometimes use Rohypnol to intensify intoxification — boosting heroin’s high and modulating cocaine’s effects.

Effects of Rohypnol

A central nervous system depressant, Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects in the user, including muscle relaxation and forgetfulness. The drug takes effect within 20 to 30 minutes, typically last four to six hours, and residual effects can last 12 hours or longer. When a person takes Rohypnol, knowingly or unknowingly, the effects of the drug can render them incapacitated and unable to resist sexual advances or even assault. Under the influence, Rohypnol users tend to forget what happened. Other effects include dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, upset stomach and low blood pressure.

Why Rohypnol is bad for you

Because it can be colorless, odorless and tasteless, Rohypnol can be slipped into the drink or beverage of an unsuspecting victim. When combined with alcohol, the drug can incapacitate an individual and make them incapable of resisting the kind of sexual assault known as “drug rape.”

Other negative consequences of using Rohypnol include:

• Amnesia (called anterograde amnesia)– where the person cannot remember what they did or said while under the drug’s influence

• Decreased blood pressure

• Impairs cognitive and psychomotor skills, slowing reaction time and negatively affecting driving skills

• Intestinal, stomach and urinary problems

• Risk of death, especially when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants

• Visual disturbances


Rohypnol is illegal in the U.S. and is a Schedule IV Substance under the Controlled Substances Act. According to the NDIC, Substance IV drugs are considered to have less abuse potential, but they can still lead to psychological and/or physical dependence. Penalties associated with the possession, trafficking and distribution of Rohypnol were increased in 1997 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to those of Schedule I substances (including heroin, marijuana and MDMA or ecstasy).

Continued use results in physical dependence, and withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. These include confusion, headache, muscle pain to hallucinations and convulsions. Seizures may also occur a week or longer after last ingestion of the drug. The only safe withdrawal method involves medically supervised detoxification.

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