- A "Date Rape" Drug
is a brand name for flunitrazepam (a benzodiazepine),
a very potent tranquilizer similar in nature to valium (diazepam),
but many times stronger. The drug produces a sedative effect,
amnesia, muscle relaxation, and a slowing of psychomotor responses.
Sedation occurs 20-30 minutes after administration and lasts for
several hours. The drug is often distributed on the street in
it's original "bubble packaging" which adds an air of legitimacy
and makes it appear to be legal.
is known by several street names: Roachies, La Roche, Rope, Rib,
Roche, Rophies, Roofies, Ruffies, Mexican valium, or the "forget
(me) pill." Rohypnol is especially dangerous because it is inexpensive;
a tablet may cost $1 to $5. This makes it popular in high schools,
college campuses, clubs, bars, and at private parties.
became (in)famous because it can cause memory "blackouts," periods
of memory loss that follow ingestion of the drug with alcohol.
Victims who have been raped with Rohypnol have report waking up
in strange rooms, with or without clothing, sometimes with a used
condom on the bed, occasionally with bruises on their body...
but they have no memory of the previous night.
Rohypnol Looks and Feels Like:
- The victim
is at a party or bar and has something to drink. The attacker
somehow slips a Rohypnol tablet into the liquid - perhaps when
the victim turns their head or leaves their drink to go to the
- About twenty
minutes after finishing their drink, the victim begins to feel
very disoriented, or "drunk." Victims of Rohypnol have often
only had one or two drinks, and they remember feeling much more
drunk than they should have been.
- The attacker
volunteers to escort the "sick" or "drunk" person home. Once
out of the public eye, the attacker may take the victim to a
hotel, to the victim's home, or to other places.
hours later, the victim wakes up feeling very disoriented. They
can't remember what happened after they left the party, but
they may find evidence that something was done to their body
while they were "asleep."
- Many victims
raped under the influence of Rohypnol are unsure whether or
not they were raped, because they have no memory of the event.
It can take several days to piece together a story from eyewitness
has been used to rape both men and women.
is similar to Valium but about 10 times as strong. In Europe
and South America, it is a prescription drug used as a preanesthetic
agent and as a potent sedative.
comes as a small pill that can be dropped into the drink of
an unsuspecting victim. The pill can dissolve in either alcoholic
or non-alcoholic drinks, and the drug is odorless and tasteless.
Rohypnol causes muscle relaxation, dizziness, and headaches,
slows psychomotor responses, and lowers inhibitions. Victims
may have difficulty moving or speaking. Victims often remember
the effects of the drug as a feeling of being "drunk." Rohypnol
takes 20-30 minutes to take effect.
has a synergistic effect with alcohol. When taken with alcohol,
Rophypnol can cause severe disorientation and a loss of memory.
These memory blackouts are typically 8-12 hours long. The victim
may or may not appear "awake" during this time.
often feel nauseous the day after they have received Rohypnol.
is a physically addictive drug. Repeated use will lead to addiction.
- There are
multiple forms of the drug on the market. The original tablets,
marketed by the pharmaceutical company Hoffman La Roche (see
picture on right), look like aspirin and dissolve rapidly in
liquid. In response to widespread abuse of this drug, Hoffman
La Roche changed the tablets; the new tablets dissolve more
slowly and will turn a drink blue. "Copycat" flunitrazepam tablets
have also been produced by pharmaceutical companies in South
Africa, South America, and possibly Egypt-the copycat tablets
are reddish-brown to white and dissolve well in liquids.
can be found in large urban areas and even in rural areas. The
drug is most common in the southern and eastern parts of the
U.S., where there have been several widely publicized seizures
and rape cases.
- A less
common use of Rohypnol: the tablets are crushed, often mixed
with other drugs, and snorted. This route of administration
is more common for recreational drug users than for rapists.
- There is
a urine test for Rohypnol. However, the drug can only be detected
for up to 72 hours after ingestion. If you or a friend think
you have been raped with Rohypnol, it is important to get a
urine test as soon as possible. Rape crisis centers and the
police are best equipped to handle any testing.
- A urine
test that is performed without police intervention may be thrown
out in court. This is because the legal system requires the
prosecution to show "chain of custody" of the urine sample-
to prove that the sample came from the victim and could not
have been mixed up with anyone else's urine.
is illegal in the United States. According to the Drug Induced
Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996, it is a crime to
give a controlled substance to anyone, without their knowledge,
with the intent of committing a violent crime (such as rape).
Violation of this law is punishable by up to 20 years in prison
and a fine of $250,000.
- There has
been much talk of reclassifying Rohypnol into the same legal
category as LSD (a Class I controlled substance), which would
greatly increase the penalties for possession, but this has
not yet happened.
has established toll-free numbers to provide information on
Rohypnol and instructions for drug testing. The general information
number is (800) 720-1076.
- Never leave
your drink unattended. If you have to go to the bathroom, either
finish your drink or throw it away.
that come in sealed containers (unopened cans or bottles) are
much safer than mixed drinks.
- If you
order a mixed drink, watch the person who mixes it.
- Do not
take any open beverages, including alcohol, from someone you
do not know well and trust.
- Never drink
anything out of a common punch bowl.
- If someone
offers to buy you a drink, go up to the bar with them to accept
to the "buddy system": always party with one or more friends,
and keep an eye on each other. If someone begins to appear "too
drunk," get them to a safe place. More than one attempted Rohypnol
rape has been prevented by watchful friends.
Safe, Sane and Consensual
to DAWN Ontario homepage
page was updated on August 29, 2002