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Short And Long-Term Effects Of Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) Abuse

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 16, 2019

Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is a potent drug that can have serious short and long-term effects when abused. People who abuse or become addicted to Rohypnol may require treatment.

Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is a powerful sedative that belongs to the benzodiazepine drug class. Unlike many similar sedatives, Rohypnol is illegal for medical or recreational use in the United States.

Rohypnol is estimated to be ten times more potent than Valium, producing more powerful effects in small doses. Also known as a “roofie,” Rohypnol has a history of being used to commit sexual assault. People may also mix Rohypnol with other drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy to create a more intense high.

Both short-term and chronic abuse of Rohypnol can result in serious symptoms. Mixed with alcohol, it can also be fatal. People who abuse Rohypnol may require treatment to safely wean off the drug and overcome their substance abuse.

How Does Rohypnol Work?

Rohypnol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows down activity in the brain. This can result in effects of relaxation, drowsiness, reduced blood pressure, and more. In countries other than the United States, Rohypnol is typically prescribed as a sleeping pill.

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Rohypnol is considered a short-acting drug, meaning its effects can set in quickly. After taking Rohypnol, effects are likely to be felt within 15 to 20 minutes, and may last for up to 12 hours.

Short Term Effects Of Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)

People who take Rohypnol often report feeling a loss of control over physical movements due to the drug’s sedating effects. High doses of Rohypnol, or doses mixed with alcohol, may cause something of a paralyzing sensation.

Roofies drug effects can be frightening when the drug is misused. In addition to heavy sedation, memory loss is also common. People may lose chunks of time after taking or being drugged with Rohypnol. This can be traumatic and may grow worse with continued exposure to the drug.

Other short-term effects of roofies may include:

  • dizziness
  • blackouts
  • aggressive behavior
  • confusion
  • decreased blood pressure
  • headaches
  • poor coordination
  • relaxed muscles
  • blurry vision
  • decreased inhibition
  • nightmares

Long-Term Effects Of Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most long term effects of roofies are unknown. Although it is sometimes used as a drug of abuse in the United States, this lack of information is likely due to it no longer being prescribed for medical purposes.

However, like other benzodiazepines, people can develop tolerance and dependence on Rohypnol over time. This occurs when a person’s body adapts to their drug use. When you develop drug dependence, attempts to reduce or stop your drug use may result in withdrawal effects.

Long-Term Effects Of Mixing Rohypnol With Other Drugs

Taking Rohypnol with other drugs can also pose some long-term health risks. Many people who abuse substances like Rohypnol may also mix them with one or more drugs.

These can include:

  • alcohol
  • ecstasy
  • GHB
  • heroin (or for heroin withdrawal symptoms)
  • marijuana

Taking Rohypnol with other drugs may cause more intense effects, including a more powerful high. However, it can also be dangerous.

Mixing Rohypnol with alcohol, for instance, can cause heavy sedation, loss of consciousness, and deadly effects on heart and breathing rates. Amnesia and overdose are also more likely when mixing Rohypnol with other drugs. In serious cases, this can lead to brain damage, coma, or death.

Rohypnol Abuse And Addiction

Chronic abuse of Rohypnol can over time lead to addiction due to its effects on the brain. Addiction can be both physical and mental, and can make it difficult for a person to function normally in their daily routine.

There is no one cause of Rohypnol addiction. Rather, it can often be influenced by a mix of biological, environmental, and social factors. Other mental health problems or a previous history of substance abuse may also increase a person’s risk for addiction.

Although the causes of addiction may be different for each person, it is never easy to face alone. People who become addicted to Rohypnol will likely need professional treatment to help them overcome their substance abuse.

Rohypnol Withdrawal And Detox

Benzodiazepine dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms, sometimes within hours after a person’s last dose. Quitting Rohypnol all at once is not recommended. This can result in serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms similar to those of alcohol withdrawal.

In most cases of benzo dependence, a person will need to gradually taper their dosage. By talking to a doctor or treatment specialist, you can determine a weaning schedule that suits your needs.

Although some people may attempt to detox from Rohypnol at home, this can be challenging. Many Rohypnol withdrawal symptoms — including extreme anxiety and muscle pain — can be uncomfortable. Other potential symptoms, such as seizures and convulsions, can be dangerous.

The safest way to detox from Rohypnol is through medically-assisted detox. This involves entering a detox program within a rehab center or hospital for medical support. Within medical detox, patients receive 24/7 supervision and may be treated with certain medicines to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment For Rohypnol Abuse

Addiction is not simple, and neither is recovery. By reaching out for treatment, however, you don’t have to face your struggles alone. A common recommendation for people struggling with Rohypnol abuse is inpatient treatment within a rehab center.

Many people overcoming substance abuse struggle in the early stages of recovery. One reason for this is withdrawal symptoms which can sometimes persist for weeks or even months. Inpatient rehab programs can provide support for people during this time.

Inpatient treatment services to treat Rohypnol abuse may include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • motivational interviewing
  • mindfulness techniques and life skills
  • group therapy
  • family counseling
  • dual-diagnosis
  • relapse prevention
  • aftercare support

By entering a treatment program, you or your loved one will be able to work with specialists that can develop a treatment plan that best suits their needs.

Don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact us to learn more about the dangers of Rohypnol abuse and how to find a rehab center for Rohypnol treatment today.

Center for Substance Abuse Research - Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Commonly Abused Drugs Charts

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