Rohypnol is a hypnotic benzodiazepine commonly known as the “date rape” drug, because it has often been used for sexual assault. This drug has no accepted medical use in the US, so it is illegal in all states; however, it is currently used for medical purposes in Mexico, Europe and many other countries. Rohypnol use and abuse in the US had its peak between 1996 and 2004 when it was one of the most popular party drugs among college and high school students. It was mostly used by males between the ages of 13 to 30 years old. Now, according to the 2009 Monitoring the Future study, Rohypnol abuse has declined among adolescents for any of the following reasons:
- Due to its link with sexual assault, possession of Rohypnol carries stiff penalties
- —up to three years in prison, a fine of $5,000 or both
- Penalties for possession with intent to distribute are much more severe—up to life in prison, a fine of $4,000,000 or both
- Penalties for possession with intent to distribute are increased if distribution results in the death or bodily harm of another person
- As drug enforcement efforts increase, the US supply of illegal Rohypnol has declined
- Similar drugs with hypnotic effects are easier to obtain
Some data on Rohypnol abuse is difficult to obtain since the drug is illegal in the US, but some states, such as Florida and Texas, have reported increased abuse anyway. Although this drug is not manufactured or distributed in the US, foreign markets (primarily Mexico) have continued distributing the substance to the US.
Rohypnol abuse in the US primarily occurs among high school and college students at parties, clubs or raves. The drug is commonly used as a party drug for its powerful hypnotic effects, which are up to 10 times stronger than drugs like Valium. Rohypnol is mostly a recreational substance used in social situations, which decreases the likelihood of addiction, but many people have addictions due to the strength of the drug. Tolerance, dependence and addiction are more likely to occur with chronic abusers. Professional treatment is essential for Rohypnol addicts; inpatient rehab is one of the most beneficial ways to recover.
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