Every drug label lists not only pharmacological properties but also potential uses and dangers. These labels carry with them rules about the handling drug. While rohypnol has been classified among drugs of a relatively low level of drug control, other laws make it nearly impossible to access and abuse it in the US.
In the early 1970’s, US laws and international treaties were created in order to better control and regulate access to dangerous and addictive drugs. The US law, called the Controlled Substances Act created five schedules, or categories of control. The highest level, schedule I, is given to drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical use. Rules governing these drugs, which include heroin and cocaine, are created to keep them away from almost everyone. Schedule II drugs have just as much potential for abuse but also have medical value. They are tightly controlled but still available for prescription. Schedules III, IV, and V each denote medical value and progressively lower potential for abuse.
Even though Rohypnol has never been approved for medicinal use in the US, it has been classified as a Schedule IV drug. This categorization has to be maintained in order to meet obligations to international treaties.
During the 1990’s, a great deal of concern surrounded the reported use of Rohypnol to help accomplish, and get away with, sexual assault. Because the drug is tasteless, odorless, and colorless, it could easily be added to the drink of a victim. That person would then fall under the influence of the drug for the next several hours. Not only does Rohypnol make it difficult for individuals to exercise judgment and exert their will, it also can make it impossible to remember events that transpire while high on the drug. People who had been secretly given Rohypnol could be assaulted and then have a memory of the event that is insufficient to be a witness in prosecuting the crime.
As a response to this threat, the US Congress passed a law in 1998 that created additional tight restrictions on Rohypnol. For example, it closed a loophole common to the treatment of schedule IV drugs that allowed people entering the country to bring a 90-day personal supply of Rohypnol if they had a valid prescription for it from another country.
Hard to Find
The unusual legal status of Rohypnol in the US, combined with the wider availability of similar drugs, makes it a relatively difficult drug to find on the black market. Since it is not manufactured, legally prescribed, or legally imported into the US, any supply of Rohypnol must be smuggled into the country. To make it successfully to the local black market, it would have to evade the intense efforts of the US Customs Agency to detect this drug, stop its importation, and arrest those who buy or sell it.
Diversion From Rohypnol
Every benzodiazepine is different and many experienced users maintain a specific love of Rohypnol. Unfortunately, the scarcity of Rohypnol is not a solution to the problem of Rohypnol addiction. Anyone addicted to Rohypnol can still achieve a very similar high by using one of the many other benzodiazepines which remain available for prescription use but are regularly diverted to recreational use.
Putting Addiction on the Ropes
If you or someone you know is addicted to Rohypnol or other benzodiazepines, call our 24-hour helpline to learn about treatment options. The call is toll-free.