Rohypnol abuse symptoms include hostility, drowsiness, headaches, tremors, nervousness, and confusion.
Rohypnol is a sedative-hypnotic medication that’s illegal in the United States. While it’s chemically similar to familiar drugs like Valium, it’s so powerful that officials can’t authorize its regular use.
Making a drug illegal should also make it unavailable, but unfortunately, dealers still sell Rohypnol to drug users. And when they do, abuse symptoms (including overdose and addiction) can appear.
Here’s what you need to know about Rohypnol abuse.
What Are the Common Signs of Rohypnol Abuse?
People ages 13 to 30 are principal Rohypnol abusers. Most take the drug in party situations, but some use the drug to manage cocaine withdrawal.
People who abuse Rohypnol may display the following intoxication symptoms:
Rohypnol can also cause retrograde amnesia, so someone may not remember what happened while they were intoxicated. You could have an argument or altercation with someone abusing Rohypnol, and that person might not remember anything about it the next day.
Why Is Rohypnol Dangerous?
Common Rohypnol symptoms like confusion or lethargy may not seem dangerous. But people who abuse this drug face serious consequences.
Rohypnol’s sedative qualities can slow breathing rates and your heartbeat. Combining the drug with another depressant (like alcohol) can lead to life-threatening sedation.
Profound Rohypnol doses can lead to sexual assault. The victim may agree to sex or feel too incapacitated to fight it. Since the details will be blurry the next day, the victim may not effectively press charges in court.
Some people who take Rohypnol engage in activities (like stealing or fighting) that they might avoid while sober due to the drug’s impact on the ability to think clearly. Some people land in jail due to the decisions they make while intoxicated.
What Does Rohypnol Addiction Look Like?
Sedative-hypnotic drugs like Rohypnol cause persistent brain changes leading to physical dependence. Using the drug repeatedly can cause brain cells to malfunction when the drug is absent. Physical dependence can lead to addiction in time.
Addiction is a psychological condition caused by recurrent drug abuse. Symptoms of Rohypnol addiction include the following:
- Drug cravings
- Continued use despite consequences
- Wanting to quit but feeling unable to do so
- Skipping work or social obligations to use more drugs
- Spending too much money on drugs
- Lying to friends or family about drug abuse
People addicted to Rohypnol have lost the ability to control their drug use. They may be physically or mentally unable to quit, even though they want to do so.
What Is Rohypnol Withdrawal?
Rohypnol’s brain changes are dangerous and can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if someone tries to quit abruptly.
A typical Rohypnol withdrawal syndrome includes the following symptoms:
- Muscle pain
If left untreated, Rohypnol withdrawal can lead to convulsions or seizures. These episodes can cause death.
How to Help With Rohypnol Abuse
Like all sedative drugs, Rohypnol can slow breathing rates. At very high doses, people can experience profound sedation.
If you think someone is experiencing a Rohypnol overdose, call 911. Tell the operator about the symptoms you see, and explain that the person has taken Rohypnol. Follow the operator’s instructions carefully, and stay with the person until help arrives.
You won’t get in trouble from the police for reporting a Rohypnol overdose. Instead, the help you provide could save that person’s life.
Getting Help for Rohypnol Addiction
Rohypnol is more commonly associated with sexual predators using it to incapacitate victims than it is with substance abuse. While Rohypnol isn’t as commonly abused as other benzodiazepines like Valium, misuse does happen.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved medications to treat Rohypnol addiction. But doctors can use tapering strategies to help people stop taking the drug safely. And when they are sober, doctors can use therapy to help them maintain this new life.
Never try to quit Rohypnol cold turkey. Talk to a doctor about how much of the drug you’re using now, and develop a strategy to help you quit. Enroll in a long-term program with therapy to help you build sober skills and avoid relapse. With a program like this, you can get sober and quit using Rohypnol for good.
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- Rohypnol: The Date Rape Drug. Narcotic Educational Foundation of America.
- Rohypnol. (April 2020). U.S. Department of Justice.
- Rohypnol. (2016). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- ROHYPNOL® : A Review on Abuse as Date Rape Drug. (2012). Helix.