Flunitrazepam is a sleeping pill manufactured by Hoffmann-LaRoche under the brand name Rohypnol. It is known on the street as rophies, roofies, ruffies, R2, roofenol, roche and roachies. It is a benzodiazepine, the same class of drugs as diazepam (brand name "Valium" also from Hoffmann-LaRoche). While flunitrazepam is an approved prescription medication in much of the world, it is not approved for sale in the United States. It is the most widely prescribed sedative/hypnotic in Europe (NIDA, 1995)

Abuse of flunitrazepam has been reported in Europe, the Caribbean, and other countries where it is legal. Abuse in the United States was first reported in South Florida in 1993 (NIDA, 1993). Since then use has spread through Texas to the other states. The DEA has reported cases in Florida, Texas, New York and other southern and western states (NIDA, 1995). The illegal flunitrazepam sold in the United States is typically diverted from legal sources in Mexico and South America. It is usually sold here in the original bubble packs of 1 or 2-mg tablets. The street price of a single flunitrazepam tablet may vary, from as low as 50 cents up to $8.00 per tablet.(Up Front Information Center, 1994)

Three distinct patterns of use have been identified (Up Front Information Center, 1994; NIDA, 1995):

  1. It seems to have a synergistic effect when used in conjunction with alcohol. This combination produces disinhibition and amnesia.
  2. Heroin abusers use flunitrazepam to enhance the effects of low-quality heroin.
  3. Cocaine abusers have reported using Rohypnol to ease down from a cocaine or crack binge.

Lethal overdose is unlikely (NIDA, 1995). Like other benzodiazepines, prolonged use will result in physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, muscle pain and confusion. Severe withdrawal involving hallucinations and convulsions can occur. Seizures have been reported a week or more after last use (NIDA, 1995).

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National Institute on Drug Abuse. Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse, Community Epidemiology Work Group, June, 1993.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Epidemiologic Trends in Drug Abuse, Advance Report, Community Epidemiology Work Group, June, 1995.

Up Front Drug Information Center. Dade/Monroe Drug Fax, Information for Action: Drug Surveillance News, February 28, 1994. Florida Dept. of HRS, District Office of ADM. For more information call: (305) 757-2566.)