Rohypnol, the trade name for flunitrazepam, has been a
concern for the last few years because of
its abuse as a "date rape" drug. People may unknowingly
be given the drug which, when mixed with
alcohol, can incapacitate a victim and prevent them from resisting
sexual assault. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants.
Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects including
muscle relaxation and amnesia; it can also
Rohypnol is not approved for use in the United States
and its importation is banned. Illicit use of
Rohypnol began in Europe in the 1970s and started appearing in the
United States in the early
1990s, where it became known as "rophies," "roofies,"
"roach," "rope," and the "date rape" drug.
Another very similar drug is now being sold as "roofies"
in Miami, Minnesota, and Texas. This is
clonazepam, marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin and in Mexico as
Rivotril. It is sometimes abused to
enhance the effects of heroin and other opiates. Based on emergency
room admission information,
Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, and Seattle appear to have the
highest use rates of clonazepam.
Since about 1990, GHB (gamma- hydroxybutyrate) has been
abused in the U.S. for euphoric,
sedative, and anabolic (body building) effects. As with Rohypnol
and clonazepam, GHB has been
associated with sexual assault in cities throughout the country.
Reports from Detroit indicate liquid GHB is being used
in nightclubs for effects similar to those of
Rohypnol. It is also common in the club scene in Phoenix, Honolulu,
and Texas, where it is known
as "liquid ecstacy," "somatomax,"
"scoop," or "grievous bodily harm." In Miami, poison control
center calls have reflected problems associated with increased GHB
use, including loss of
consciousness. In New York City, there have been reports of GHB use
among those in the fashion
industry. In Atlanta, it is commonly used as a synthetic steroid at
fitness centers and gyms.
Coma and seizures can occur following abuse of GHB and,
when combined with
methamphetamine, there appears to be an increased risk of seizure.
Combining use with other drugs
such as alcohol can result in nausea and difficulty breathing. GHB
may also produce withdrawal
effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating.
Because of concern about Rohypnol,
GHB, and other similarly abused sedative-hypnotics, Congress passed
the "Drug-Induced Rape
Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996" in October 1996. This
legislation increased Federal
penalties for use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual