Get Help Today. (800) 516-4357

Rohypnol Addiction

Flunitrazepam — most commonly known as Rohypnol — is classified as a benzodiazepine. Rohypnol is illegal in the United States and has never been approved for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Struggling with Addiction? Get Help Now

Benzodiazepine drugs, commonly referenced as benzos, are highly addictive drugs that are commonly abused by both adolescents and adults. Similarly to opioids, benzodiazepines like Rohypnol alter brain chemistry with repeated use and can quickly result in both physical and psychological addiction.

Rohypnol is often known as the date rape drug, as it has been used by sexual predators in bars and social settings to incapacitate victims. 

What Is Rohypnol?

Rohypnol is most often used in medical settings outside of the United States to assist with anesthesia, but it is also utilized in the treatment of sleep disorders (most often, insomnia). Due to its addictive properties, Rohypnol and other hypnotics are generally only prescribed for short-term use or on an occasional basis for recurring sleep disorders.

Rohypnol is not legally available for prescription in the United States. However, the drug is used in many other countries across the globe for sleep disorder treatment. 

When misused, Rohypnol is ingested in pill form, dissolved in a beverage of some sort, or crushed and snorted.

Rohypnol on the Streets & in Popular Culture

Rohypnol has several street names, including ruffies, forget-me-pills, Mexican Valium, wolfies, and circles

Rohypnol is widely considered to be a club drug, which means that it is often distributed in bars, clubs, and lounge settings. It is often slipped into victims’ drinks without their knowledge. 

Some individuals use Rohypnol knowingly for its desired effects, and the drug is commonly used with alcohol and other prescription drugs. When used with alcohol, Rohypnol produces disinhibition and amnesia, which is why sexual predators find it to be an effective drug to give victims in order to incapacitate and take advantage of them.

Rohypnol is classified as a Schedule IV substance under the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, Rohypnol is believed to have a lower potential for abuse, but it can also still lead to both physical and psychological dependence.

Illicit use of Rohypnol began to become popularized in the United States in the early 1990s. Its reputation as “the date rape drug” made it a popular subject in movies, television, and music. Scenes in television shows and movies showed people secretly slipping it into people’s drinks at bars and clubs. 

Quick Facts About Rohypnol

  • Rohypnol is often associated with sexual assault and misconduct. Putting prescription drugs or illicit substances into anyone’s drink is called drink spiking, and it is a practice seen on college campuses and in bars and nightclubs to facilitate sexual assault.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, almost 2% of high school seniors in the U.S. use Rohypnol annually.
  • Studies suggest that around 1 in 13 American college students report being drugged or at least suspected that they were drugged at some point. Of those students who reported being drugged, 79 percent were female. Rohypnol was reported to have been used 32 percent of the time.
  • Since the drug is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, it is virtually impossible to tell if a drink has been spiked with it. Many people don’t know they have been drugged until they wake up with limited or no memories of the night before. Other symptoms include blurry vision, disorientation, dizziness, nausea, or change in body temperature.
  • Rohypnol will show up on a urine drug test.

Side Effects of Taking Rohypnol

Rohypnol often causes blood pressure to drop, as it is classified as a depressant drug. However, some individuals report having feelings of extreme excitement and even violent tendencies when using the drug.

Rohypnol causes memory loss in most individuals who take it. It also can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and an upset stomach.

Other symptoms include the following:

  • Nightmares
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Disinhibition
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Poor mobility and motor skills
  • Slow breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slurred speech

There are more severe effects associated with Rohypnol, particularly when it is taken in conjunction with alcohol and other prescription medications, such as other benzodiazepines or opioids. Severe side effects include respiratory depression, seizures, and overdose. 

Some individuals can experience such severe respiratory depression that it results in oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage or even death.

Rohypnol Abuse & Sexual Assault

Due to its ability to cause incapacitation, loss of inhibition, and memory loss or amnesia, sexual predators often use Rohypnol as a method of drugging their targets. Rohypnol manufacturers responded to societal outrage by making their tablets more conspicuous, particularly when mixed with a beverage.

However, simply changing the color of the medication doesn’t always clue a person in if their drink has been tampered with. Many drinks are green and blue, which renders a blue or green-colored powder indistinguishable in the drink. 

Other efforts have been made to help people detect date-rape drugs in their drinks. A date-rape drug test can detect Rohypnol and other drugs that are used to incapacitate victims, such as Xanax and Valium. 

Signs & Symptoms of Rohypnol Addiction 

Although an individual is more likely to become addicted to other benzodiazepine drugs, such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan, it’s possible to become addicted to Rohypnol

Signs that someone is on or addicted to Rohypnol include:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Poor decision-making abilities
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Engaging in drug-seeking behavior
  • Mixing Rohypnol with other drugs
  • Inability to meet work and social obligations
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Spending more and more time acquiring, using, and recovering from the drug

Can You Overdose on Rohypnol?

Using Rohypnol in excessive amounts or combining it with alcohol or other drugs (particularly other benzodiazepines and opioids) can cause an overdose.

When someone overdoses on Rohypnol, they might exhibit symptoms like slurred speech, respiratory issues, passing out or loss of consciousness, disorientation, hallucinations, and intense abdominal pain. Severe cases of overdose can result in seizures, coma, and even death.

It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know has overdosed on Rohypnol. If you experience odd symptoms and believe you have been given the drug, seek urgent medical attention. 

Tell a friend you need help. Since you could potentially pass out quickly, communicate your concern as soon as possible.

Dangers of Withdrawal

While it is uncommon, it is possible to become physically dependent on Rohypnol. If you then suddenly stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms can occur, just as they can with any benzodiazepine drug.

Medical supervision is needed for benzodiazepine withdrawal. Generally, a tapered approach is recommended. A doctor may switch you to a long-acting benzodiazepine and then taper you off that drug over a period of weeks to months.

Do not suddenly stop taking any benzodiazepine on your own after you’ve been using it for a while. This could result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Consult a physician regarding the best path forward.

Treatment Options for Rohypnol Addiction

If you have been using Rohypnol for any reason, you need addiction treatment. Any use of Rohypnol is considered abuse since the drug is illegal in the U.S.

A comprehensive approach to addiction treatment will include medical detox, therapy, and ongoing support.

Medical Detox

Again, a tapered approach will be recommended for benzodiazepine detox. Your supervising physician will design the taper, and you’ll have support from staff members throughout the entire process. This not only keeps you safe, but it also reduces the likelihood of relapse to benzo abuse during the withdrawal process.


The core of your addiction treatment program will consist of therapy, often including both individual therapy sessions and group sessions. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be particularly beneficial in helping individuals identify behavioral patterns that resulted in addiction. CBT can also equip individuals with healthy tools for dealing with life without returning to drug abuse.

If Rohypnol was at all related to sexual trauma, you’ll need to address that trauma in therapy as well. Confirm any addiction treatment program you choose has experience dealing with the specific issues you need addressed in treatment.

Ongoing Support

Support is a key component of successful recovery from substance use disorders. In addition to support from family members and friends, you’ll participate in supportive activities during rehab and beyond.

Addiction support groups meet in person and virtually to provide guidance and encouragement for those dealing with addiction. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) operate on the traditional 12-step model, but there are a wide range of support group options available. 

These types of groups can be helpful to those in recovery. While there is limited data on their long-term effectiveness, many people find them to be critical to their ongoing sobriety.

A Path to a Better Future

Rohypnol is less likely to be abused than other benzodiazepines. It is more likely to be taken unknowingly via drinking spiking. Still, there are some people who abuse Rohypnol for its euphoric effects, and this is a clear sign of substance abuse. 

For those who are using Rohypnol or abusing any benzodiazepine, a multidisciplinary approach to recovery works best. Choose an addiction treatment program that offers a tailored approach, helping you to address specific issues that impede your recovery and working to build practices that enhance your overall life. 

Profile image for Dr. Alison Tarlow
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated September 12, 2023
Take The Next Step Now
Call Us Now Check Insurance