Drug abuse and addiction are complex conditions that can take many forms for many different individuals. Some individuals simply want to experience the euphoria that comes with “getting high,” while others may be self-medicating for undiagnosed mental illness. The reasons that a person may begin abusing drugs are as varied as personalities and circumstances.
When it comes to Rohypnol, there are two primary types of individuals who abuse this powerful sleep drug.
The first group falls into the same reasoning for drug abuse as anyone else, while the second has a far more nefarious purpose. Rohypnol is a drug that can assist in the commission of sexual and violent crimes against unsuspecting individuals. It is important to address both of these issues when discussing the practice of Rohypnol abuse.
Voluntary and Recreational Abuse of Rohypnol Can Lead to Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rohypnol is a powerful benzodiazepine drug that is similar in nature to legally prescribed medications such as Xanax. Rohypnol is an illegal substance within the United States because there seems to be little or no medical benefits to its use. It is not legal to possess Rohypnol, nor is it legal to manufacture it. It is not even legal to import the drug from other countries where it is still in use. In other countries, Rohypnol is used as a sleep medication for the treatment of short-term insomnia. Within the United States, it is considered one of several “club drugs.” This name is given to drugs that are often used by young people at dance parties known as “raves.” These dance parties can sometimes last for many long hours or days, and drug use is quite prevalent.
One popular drug used for these types of events is the stimulant methamphetamine. Rohypnol, because it is a central nervous system depressant, is sometimes used to counteract the effects of the stimulant drug, as well as to provide the drug abuser with a psychoactive experience. When Rohypnol enters the body, the drug works as an inhibitor of certain brain chemicals. Specifically, Rohypnol interferes with the production of GABA. GABA is a chemical that inhibits the production and release of “feel good” brain chemicals, such as dopamine. Without GABA, the user will experience a surplus of the brain chemicals that cause the euphoria they are looking for. Continued use of Rohypnol can lead to the individual developing tolerance to the drug.
In order to continually block GABA, the individual will need to consume larger doses of the drug. As this tolerance period progresses, the body can become physically dependent upon the drug in order to feel “normal.” Eventually, the drug becomes a seemingly necessary and vital part of the individual’s lifestyle and mere existence. One sign of addiction, or dependence, involving Rohypnol is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available.
Withdrawal symptoms vary for each individual who may be engaging in Rohypnol abuse, certainly, but may include:
- Restless behavior or an inability to sit still
- Headaches and muscle pain
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes
- Shock and seizures
Because Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant, many of these symptoms are similar to withdrawal from alcohol. It is important that if an individual is suffering from dependence on Rohypnol, they seek qualified medical help during the detox process. As much as we would like to tell someone who is abusing drugs to simply stop, always consult a medical professional to make sure the individual does not need a weaning process where the amounts of drugs are gradually reduced.
Involuntary Rohypnol Abuse Can Be Equally Dangerous
It may seem strange to think that an individual can take a drug as dangerous as Rohypnol and not realize it. However, individuals who seek to harm others can easily slip a tablet of Rohypnol into a drink, where the drug will quickly and easily dissolve, without the recipient even realizing it. The drug has no taste. There is no telltale odor. In many cases, the drug has no color, although overseas manufacturers have seen the risk and added blue to the pill that will turn clear liquids a blue color to help prevent misuse. Unfortunately, the popularity of electric blue tropical drinks allow for easy concealment should a criminally minded individual be unable to obtain tablets made from the original formula. Even so, the original formula is still widely available.
It is also important to note that the effects of Rohypnol are very similar to alcohol intoxication, which generally means individuals may not know they have been drugged. According to Brown University, there are ways in which young people can protect themselves from involuntary Rohypnol abuse. It is important to not frequent strange parties or social clubs alone, but with a group of trusted friends. According to the University’s statistics, alcohol played a role in roughly 90 percent of all date rape incidents. While the use of alcohol, in and of itself, can contribute, it is also a favorite means of administration for Rohypnol.
Other ways to protect oneself from involuntary Rohypnol abuse include:
- Do not accept a drink from a stranger unless it is in a factory-sealed container, such as an unopened wine cooler or beer.
- If someone insists they wish to buy you a drink, be equally adamant that you are present at the bar while it is being mixed.
- Do not drink from a community punch bowl, as you cannot be certain what ingredients have been added with or without the host’s knowledge.
- Establish one member of the party to refrain from drug abuse or alcohol consumption for the duration of the event.
- Pay close attention to how much alcohol you consume, and whether your behavior or feelings correspond to the amount consumed. If you seem to be more intoxicated than you should be, you may have been involuntarily drugged.
The aspect of Rohypnol that makes it so attractive to individuals who are intent upon harming others is the memory loss that many who have taken this drug will experience. When someone ingests Rohypnol, it is very likely that they will not remember any of the events that transpired while they were under the influence. This includes behaviors such as engaging in in-depth conversations, making phone calls, consuming untoward quantities of food, driving their vehicle, and having unprotected sex both consensually and as the victim of a “date rape.”
Helping a Friend Who May Be Abusing Rohypnol
If someone you care about is abusing a dangerous drug, such as Rohypnol or another benzodiazepine, it is important that you help them get the assistance they need as quickly as possible. Studies have shown, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that treatment does not have to be voluntary in order to be effective. Individuals who have had trouble with legal authorities, for instance, have been “coerced” into treatment programs as a part of their sentence or to receive lighter sentences. Treatment under these circumstances is just as effective and has very similar relapse rates as those who sought treatment completely on their own.
One way to help a loved one or friend get the help they need is to communicate to them that you will no longer help them engage in Rohypnol abuse. Perhaps they try to borrow money on a regular basis because they overspend on Rohypnol, or they often need a place to sleep off the effects of the drug and consistently request shelter from you. If you have any questions about treatment for Rohypnol abuse or addiction, please don’t hesitate to call Futures of Palm Beach. We are here 24/7 to take your call.