0 sources cited

What is Rohypnol? Brand Names, Drug Class and Abuse Symptoms

Last Updated: April 16, 2024

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Rohypnol is a widely-known date-rape drug that belongs to the benzodiazepine drug class. The drug is so powerful that it is sometimes used as anesthesia by doctors before surgery. This text takes an in-depth look at these various names of Rohypnol, the make-up of the drug, and symptoms of abuse.

What is Rohypnol? Brand Names, Drug Class & Scheduling

Rohypnol used to come as an odorless and tasteless white tablet, but now there are green Rohypnol pills with a blue core that washes into any liquid that it comes into contact with. This change was made necessary by the instances of abuse of the previous Rohypnol pills – especially in unsuspecting individuals. With the blue core, it is easier to tell when Flunitrazepam has been added to a drink. However, some generic variants of the drug do not have blue dye.

Doctor discusses Rohypnol dangers with patient

The main ingredient is flunitrazepam. Rohypnol classification is the benzodiazepines family, and the drug is approximately 10 times stronger than Valium. Flunitrazepam is a central nervous system depressant that has a sedating effect on a person. Flunitrazepam’s chemical formula is C16H12FN3O3, where C16H12 indicates that the compound is a benzodiazepine.

Flunitrazepam is lipophilic. Being fat-soluble, it is metabolized by the liver. Flunitrazepam effects result from the action of its active ingredient flunitrazepam and the three main metabolites: desmethylflunitrazepam, 3-hydroxyflunitrazepam, and 7-aminoflunitrazepam.

The non-active Flunitrazepam ingredients may include:

  • blue dye in the core (used to help people identify the drug if it slipped into their drink)
  • lactose
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • magnesium stearate
  • hypromellose
  • sodium starch glycolate
  • ethylcellulose
  • talc
  • titanium dioxide
  • ferric oxide
  • triacetin
White pills spilled from the bottle.

What is Rohypnol Brand and Generic Names

Rohypnol is the brand name of flunitrazepam (generic). While it is not available in pharmacies in the United States, it is sold as a prescription medication in other countries under various names.

Brand names under which the drug is sold in various countries include:

  • Fluninoc (Germany)
  • Rohydorm (Brazil)
  • Roipnol/Valsera (Italy)
  • Silece (Japan)
  • Ilman (Greece)
  • Flunita (Hong Kong)
  • Mirpaw (Argentina), etc.

What is Rohypnol Classification & Schedule?

Rohypnol effects on the body are a major metric for how the drug is classified, and how it is viewed through a legal lens. One of such Rohypnol classifications is done by schedule, and Flunitrazepam is categorized as a Schedule IV substance. This means that it is seen as having the potential for abuse and addiction, but not as much as higher schedule drugs. It also means that the DEA acknowledges that, despite it not being cleared for medical use in the United States, there are therapeutic applications for the medication.

The drug was originally developed in the 1970s as a medication to promote sleep. Flunitrazepam sleep aid was first sold in Switzerland in 1975. The benzodiazepine spread to more than 60 countries, including the US, as it is an effective and powerful insomnia medication with fewer health risks than similar in action barbiturates present. However, as the rates of Flunitrazepam abuse in the United States skyrocketed, the drug was banned in 1997. It is not approved for medical use by the FDA at the moment.

Considering the illegal status of Flunitrazepam in the United States, and the resulting lack of government control over roofies sold there, buying it is incredibly risky. Under United States law, there are penalties incurred for possession or sale of the drug within the country.

The details for these penalties are as follows:

Detail Potential Fine Potential Imprisonment
Simple Possession At least $5,000 Up to 3 years in prison
Possession with intent to distribute Up to $4,000,000 10 to life
Possession with intent to distribute (leading to the death or serious bodily injury of a person) Up to $4,000,000 20 to life
Sale of fewer than 2 pounds of Flunitrazepam (a class D felony) Up to 7 years in prison
Sale of at least 2 pounds of Flunitrazepam (a class C felony) Up to 15 years in prison
Sale of Rohypnol near a school, daycare center, other educational facilities, or on/near a school bus (a class B felony) Up to 25 years in prison
Sale of Flunitrazepam with the involvement of a minor (a class E felony) Up to 4 years in prison

Flunitrazepam is still legally allowed in many countries though, especially in Europe and South America, and it is sold under different brand names in these countries.

The list of countries where Flunitrazepam is legal includes:

  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • South Africa
  • Iceland
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Paraguay
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Netherlands
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Italy
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • Lithuania
  • Kenya

Statistics On Rohypnol-Related Crimes

Rohypnol statistics paint a scary picture, but the whole truth is likely even worse. Because of how roofies act on the body, victims may not immediately know that they’ve been drugged as its symptoms are easy to mix up with drunkenness.

This can also lead victims to believe that any activities that they engaged in while drugged were consensual rather than forced. However, drugs such as Flunitrazepam can cause diminished capacity, which is a legal term that is used to describe a mental/physical state where an individual does not have the ability to consent. Dangers like these fuel the belief that the use of flunitrazepam as a date-rape drug is much higher than reported.

According to study-based Rohypnol statistics, approximately 5 percent of people reporting date rapes to the police test positive for the presence of date-rape drugs, with roofies being the biggest culprit. However, this only accounts for assaults that are both reported to the police and where the presence of date-rape drugs are tested for. The actual Rohypnol statistics for the rate of use are undoubtedly higher, given that less than one-third of all rapes are ever reported to law enforcement.

The short period of time that it takes for Flunitrazepam to remain in the system also contributes to the difficulty in reporting cases of date rape that happen as a result of the drug.

Date rape is not the only danger associated with Flunitrazepam though. Due to symptoms such as confusion and disorientation, dizziness, fainting, nausea and vomiting, impaired muscle control and psychomotor skills, tremors, and trouble breathing, it is generally risky for someone that has been drugged to function or try to engage in any activities. Driving, for instance, will be near impossible and potentially fatal.

Gavel and papers about Rohypnol law status.

How to Guard Against Getting Roofied?

It is an unfortunate fact that people have to take steps to avoid being roofied. However, there are ways people can make it less likely to happen to them.

Some steps that can be taken include:

  • If at a bar, always watch the bartender pour the drink
  • When possible, stick to bottled drinks and have them opened in your presence
  • Never leave a drink unattended and cover the top whenever possible
  • Do not accept drinks from strangers
  • Avoid asking others to watch drinks to keep them safe
  • Take your drink with you to the restroom, or use a buddy system where you always have a friend you trust watching over your drink in your absence
  • Seek help immediately if you start feeling nauseated, dizzy, or generally strange after drinking
  • Look at your drink before taking your first sip - you may notice something unusual

Thanks to technological developments, there are some more creative ways that people can protect themselves as well. For example, there is Flunitrazepam-detecting nail polish. With Rohypnol nail polish on, the user dips a finger into their drink, and if the polish changes color, it has been spiked. It is better to prevent spiking rather than do a Rohypnol test later.

Is Flunitrazepam Addictive?

Because it is a Schedule IV drug, people tend to assume that flunitrazepam is not highly addictive. However, roofies are addictive, and those who abuse them even on occasion can quickly pick up a habit. In fact, not only is the drug addictive, but research has shown that abuse can be fatal.

Rohypnol Addiction Signs

Rohypnol addiction signs to look out for could be physical or social in the way that they manifest.

Physical signs of flunitrazepam addiction include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dulled reflexes
  • Decreased coordination
  • Symptoms of drunkenness without other signs of alcohol use
  • Exhaustion or stupor
  • Severe Rohypnol withdrawal symptoms

Social signs include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • A suddenly developed habit of missing classes or failing grades
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Apathy towards obligations and family
  • Refusal to answer questions about where they have been and what they have been doing
  • Unexplained absence from school or work
  • Sudden financial problems

Anyone exhibiting these signs is in dire need of help from a drug rehabilitation center.

Rohypnol Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone has been using flunitrazepam heavily or over an extended period, they can expect to experience Rohypnol withdrawal when their use stops. Withdrawal symptoms of Flunitrazepam are unpleasant and can become dangerous in certain situations.

Rohypnol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • muscle pain
  • tingling of hands or feet
  • restlessness
  • convulsions
  • tension
  • confusion
  • numbness
  • delirium
  • seizures
  • irritability
  • extreme mood fluctuations
  • insomnia
  • recurring, severe headaches
  • hallucinations
  • anxiety
  • trembling
  • shock
  • respiratory and cardiac irregularities
  • coma

Because these symptoms can be dangerous, anyone wanting to get clean should not attempt it alone, rather seek professional drug abuse treatment.

What is Rohypnol Withdrawal Timeline

Rohypnol withdrawal occurs in two stages, based on the intensity and duration of symptoms. Acute withdrawal happens within 3-4 days of using the drug, accompanied by anxiety symptoms that trigger cravings. Other symptoms that may come up in this phase include increased blood pressure/heart rate, sleep apnea, nausea, vomiting, weight loss,  irritability, insomnia, and seizures.

After this initial acute withdrawal phase, protracted Rohypnol withdrawal may also occur, lasting for up to two weeks. The aforementioned symptoms may persist here but at a reduced level of severity.

How to Stop Flunitrazepam Use

Suppose any signs of Rohypnol addiction are observed. In that case, a drug rehabilitation center that knows how to work with benzodiazepine users can help the person recover, stop drug use, and live a better life.

There are various treatment options for Rohypnol addiction, including medically-assisted, tapered detox, integrated mental health care, behavioral therapies, and individual/group therapies.

For any successful treatment process, medically-assisted detox in a certified center is a crucial first stage. It is crucial because one needs to rid the body of the toxins from Flunitrazepam before therapeutically analyzing behaviors leading to addiction and learning to live healthier and sober.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rohypnol A Stimulant?

What kind of drug Flunitrazepam happens to be benzodiazepine. Also known as benzos, these drugs are used to treat conditions such as severe anxiety. Stimulants increase body functions and make a person more alert and energetic, which is the opposite of what benzos do. As such, roofies are not a stimulant.

Is Rohypnol A Depressant?

Like all medications in the drug category, roofies is a depressant. Flunitrazepam’s depressant effects include: Flunitrazepam drug category, roofies are a depressant. Flunitrazepam’s depressant effects include: sedation, muscle relaxation, a feeling of goodwill, lowered anxiety, dizziness, a lack of inhibition, impaired reaction time, slowed respiration, and heart rate.

Due to how it acts on the body, it is clear that Flunitrazepam is a depressant.

Page Sources

  1. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Rohypnol. 2017. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/rohypnol.
  2. Negrusz A., Juhascik M., Gaensslen R. E. Estimate Of The Incidence Of Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault In The U.S. University of Illinois at Chicago. 2005. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/212000.pdf.
  3. National Drug Intelligence Center. Rohypnol Fast Facts. 2003. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs6/6074/index.htm
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin - Club Drugs. 2004. https://archives.drugabuse.gov/publications/nida-community-drug-alert-bulletin-club-drugs/rohypnol

Published on: July 4th, 2019

Updated on: April 16th, 2024

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

Free Insurance Verification

Our team is available to guide you through the steps of assessing your insurance coverage for addiction treatment.