Rohypnol: Misuse of a Date-Rape Drug

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Introduction

During the period between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, a number of achievements have been done in different spheres of life. Professionals tried to consider population’s needs to offer necessary products and services, as well as to provide help and support in time. Achievements in the sphere of medicine were noticeable, and one of the most significant and dangerous drugs, Rohypnol, became available to people worldwide. The emergence of Rohypnol changed the lives of many people. Some people were able to improve their health, some people earned a lot on this drug, and others became the victims of Rohypnol.

The paper examines the impact of Rohypnol as it is crucial for several reasons. Rohypnol may control people physical and mental conditions. It may be discovered in the organism during a couple of hours only, and it affects people lives considerably. People should know about Rohypnol and its peculiarities to prevent possible sexual assaults, understand how dangerous this date-rape drug can be, and be able to protect personal lives from the effects of Rohypnol and the activities of people, who decide to use it.

History and Epidemiology of Rohypnol

Rohypnol was firstly noticed in Europe in the middle of the 1970s (Badiye & Gupta, 2012). It was Hoffman – La Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical firm, which introduced the drug to people. The company dealt with different benzodiazepines from the 1950s. One of its main purposes was the creation and development of safe tranquilizers that could be used for patients’ sedation in hospitals. In 1972, Roche synthesized flunitrazepam (medical name of Rohypnol) for the first time. As the results were successful, the drug was offered to various European hospitals. Still, the use of Rohypnol was legalized only in some European countries; the USA did not want to accept this drug, due its strong effects on human body and mind.

Within a short period of time, many countries changed their attitude in regards to the use of Rohypnol and improved laws accordingly. Doses of 2mg were forbidden, and the maximum dose of a package was 20mg. It was declared that even the dose of 1mg could affect a person for about 8 hours or even longer (Adams, 2007). That is why it was dangerous to make this drug available for all people in any possible dose. In 1996, Rohypnol in any dose was legally prohibited in the USA; though, it was available in Europe, and it was not a problem to import it to the States in some illegal ways (Maxwell, n. d).

People, who supported Rohypnol usage, put themselves under a threat of being victims of sexual assaults or other types of attacks. It was easy to use Rohypnol with alcohol and to make it unnoticeable in the organism during different medical experiments. Criminals could easily use Rohypnol in order to make their victims unable to react to anything around as it is a very sedative and relaxant drug. This date-rape drug was available everywhere; and even too high prices were not a problem. Numerous complaints took place; people could not control the effects of flunitrazepam. It was called as a strong narcotic.

Since 2000, many countries accepted the law according to which flunitrazepam was available for people only if some prescriptions were given by the specialists. Though the law did not stop the activities on the black market, the USA offered more and more advertisements, which prohibited the promotion of Rohypnol, also known at streets as Roofies or R2, and informed people about the danger of Rohypnol (Porrata, 2001).

Pharmacology of Rohypnol

Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine-typed drug, whose qualities are frequently compared to the qualities of Valium. If this kind of a drug is taken alone, there is no threat for the human physical condition. It is usually used as a powerful drug for treating insomnia or some anxiety disorders. But if it is used with alcohol or some other medical drug, Rohypnol has a synergistic effect and may lead to death. To understand how the drug under consideration influences people, it is necessary to examine its formula and combination of elements synthesized. 

Flunitrazepam’s formula is C16H12FN3O3: “5 – (2-Fluorophenyl) 1,3 – dihydro – 1 – menthyl – 7 – nitro – 2H – 1,4 – benzodiazepine – 2 – one” (Badiye & Gupta, 2012, p. 162). Its melting point is about 166oC, and weight is about 313.3. The drug usually dissolves in different liquids. For a long period of time, it was a white, small, and round solid; nowadays, these pills have an oval shape and green-grey color (Porrata, 2001). In addition, if older slipped pills did not change the color of the liquid, the newer drugs change the color of clear liquids (Badiye & Gupta, 2012). It was the latest achievement of its manufacturers to secure people.

As a rule, light liquids become blue, and dark liquids become cloudy. It is easy to turn the pill into powder so that it does not take much time to dissolve it in liquid. So, people are not always able to define the change of color in time and are still under a threat of being poisoned. In addition, Rohypnol is a tasteless drug. Thus, when it is added to food or drinks, people do not feel any change. The drug starts working in several hours. This peculiarity provides deviants with a chance to change the location and isolate their victims in the most appropriate for a crime place.      

Growth, Manufacturing and Transportation of Rohypnol

Rohypnol become a very popular drug in the whole world within a short period of time. Though its transportation was illegal and its manufacturing was limited, this drug was always in demand. Usually the reasons for this demand were quite different. Hospitals use flunitrazepam as the main sedative drug to decrease the level of pain and facilitate human sufferings. Unfortunately, it happens a lot that Rohypnol is available for deviants, and they use it as the possibility to make victims unable to move, react, and even understand what happens.

Many transportation ways are closed, due to illegalization of Rohypnol. Still, the representatives of the black market try to choose the most appropriate and safest ways. For example, the border between Mexico and Southern California is frequently used. The citizens of Los Angeles like to combine Rohypnol with heroin to prolong the effects of the latter (Porrata, 2001). Such a combination offers new opportunities for dealers and makes them develop their business and take care of the ways to transport Rohypnol within a short period of time.

Roche Company realizes how dangerous and important the production of flunitrazepam is. Its representatives try to consider all aspects of safe transformation and distribution. They create a pill that dissolves very slowly in water and changes the color of the liquid. Still, there are many false manufacturers that offer appropriate analogues that do not change color or taste. Manufacturing of Rohypnol is under thorough consideration, but it is hard to control all companies that deal with flunitrazepam. 

Dosage and Effects of Rohypnol

Rohypnol is also known as a date-rape drug (Adams, 2007), and it is easy to understand why such a name is used. When unknown people meet for the first time, it is difficult to comprehend each others’ intentions. Some deviant people, who have some mental problems or just dirty desires, may use Rohypnol as a powerful means to put people to sleep for some period of time. At the beginning of the1990s, the dose of flunitrazepam was similar in many European countries: the whole package could be about 40 mg, and one pill is between 1 to 2 mg (Gahlinger, 2004). The approximate price on the street was from $0.50 to $5 for a pill. As a rule, it is enough to take one pill, and the effects are visible within next 30 minutes and may last for about 8-12 hours (Gahlinger, 2004).

Rohypnol may be offered by the hospitals as the main treatment for insomnia. Medical experts follow the patient’s condition and make sure that no other sedative drugs are used. It is very important to take this drug alone to avoid any possible negative outcomes. These are so called desired effects of flunitrazepam.

Roche manufactures flunitrazepam to provide hospitals around the whole world with this powerful drug and help people overcome challenges and survive after numerous sleepless nights. The company cannot control the cases of overdoses or misuses which happen out of hospitals. The effects of Rohypnol that is used with some portion of alcohol or other drug, like heroin or cocaine, may differ considerably. Sometimes, people just suffer amnesia and feel sick; but usually, Roffies are used before sexual assaults to make victims immobile and unable to protect themselves. The effects of such use of Rohypnol may be even deadly.

The main purpose offenders try to achieve using Rohypnol is to depress the activity of the central nervous system and decrease the brain activity. Anxiety is reduced, and muscles are relaxed. People are not able to react to anything that happens around and provide others with the possibility to do everything the latter wants. It is necessary to remember that if Rohypnol is used with alcohol or heroin, stupor, respiratory depressions or even death may take place. There are many other adverse effects of Rohypnol, which may be observed in 30 minutes after the drug is taken: difficulties with breathing, stomach problems, headache, body sedation, slow heart rate, coma, etc. (Badiye & Gupta, 2012).

Sometimes, people become addicted to flunitrazepam. As a result, they are eager to take more and more flunitrazepam to achieve the desirable effect, spend more money on finding the drug, miss the obligations, communicate with new people, who have the same medical needs, and become unable to get relaxed without flunitrazepam. In such cases, it is high time to think about possible treatments and rehabilitations to avoid more serious outcomes like death.

Treatments in Rehabilitation

Several steps have to be taken to achieve the desirable effects of treatment for flunitrazepam addiction. The changes have to be made physically, emotionally, and mentally. First, people should understand clearly why they need Rohypnol rehab. They have to be ready to the activities and accept the changes of their physical conditions properly. The next step is medical examination and the process of detoxification itself. The human body has to be cleaned of the drug. It is not enough to stop using it for some period of time. The organism is in need for some substitutes, and a person has to evaluate the situation properly and not to make a wrong choice. Experts offer both types of help, physical and psychological. It does not matter whether a person becomes addicted independently or because another person makes him/her addicted. Professional help with Rohypnol rehab should be available to everyone.

Even if treatment passes well, it is still necessary to remember that sexual assaults or robberies with the use of Rohypnol may take place. People should know how to decrease the risk level and detect R2 before it is taken and starts changing human activities. Several rules have to be considered all the time: watch carefully what is in a glass, do not allow other people to open a bottle before drinking it, observe other people’s activities, and remember that Rohypnol does not have color or taste. It may be everywhere where there are unknown people. Though it is possible to trust new people, there is no need to trust personal lives to them. Rohypnol is illegal, but it is also available, and people, especially young one, have to understand this truth.

Conclusion

Nowadays, it is popular to use drugs in clubs just in order to relax and create good atmospheres. Though Rohypnol was created by Roche Company to help people with insomnia, it has become one of the most dangerous date-rape drugs. Young people do not pay much attention to what they are drinking or eating at the party time, and thus, they become more vulnerable. There are many cases of sexual assaults, which are based on the misuse of flunitrazepam. People cannot detect this drug as it does have neither color nor taste. For some period of time, it was also impossible to detect it using current technologies. People understand that something has happened after offenders have reached their goals. It is a terrible truth that some people use the things manufactured by other people to hurt others. It is impossible to be sure that the next innovation will be always safe for people and the necessity to create helpful tools is under a serious question. The misuse of Rohypnol is an important issue, and information on how, where, and when it may be used should be available to all people.

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