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Flunitrazepam chemical structure
Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 1622-62-4
ATC code N05CD03
PubChem 3380
DrugBank none
Chemical data
Formula C16H12FN3O3
Mol. weight 313.3
Pharmacokinetic data
Metabolism Hepatic
Half life 18-26 hours
Excretion Renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat. ?
Legal status Schedule III(US)
Routes Oral

Flunitrazepam (formerly marketed under the trade name Rohypnol in North America, pronounced ˌfluːnaɪˈtræzəpæm) is a drug which is a benzodiazepine derivative. It has powerful sedative, anxiolytic, and skeletal muscle relaxant properties. Unfortunately, the drug can be abused as a date rape drug and is sometimes nicknamed roofies.



Flunitrazepam was first synthesized in the early 1970s by Roche and was used in hospitals when deep sedation was needed. It first entered the commercial market in Europe in 1975, and in the 1980s it began to be available in other countries.

It originally came in 1 mg, 2 mg, and 5 mg sizes, but due to its potency and potential for abuse, the higher doses were taken off the market and it is now only available in 1 mg.


Like other benzodiazepines, flunitrazepam's pharmacological effects include sedation, muscle relaxation, reduction in anxiety, and prevention of convulsions. However, flunitrazepam's sedative effects are approximately 7 to 10 times more potent than diazepam. The effects of flunitrazepam appear approximately 15 to 20 minutes after oral administration, and last for approximately four to six hours. Some residual effects can persist up to 12 hours or more after administration.

Medical uses

Flunitrazepam has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for medical use in the United States, and is considered to be an illegal drug there. It is available only by private prescription in the United Kingdom.[1] (though Rohypnol was discontinued in 1986, Rophynol use is still present in modern culture).

In the UK it is also used in some hospitals to sedate patients undergoing colonoscopy.

Prescription in Australia is restricted.[2][3] It is used primarily for the treatment of severe insomnia that has not responded to other treatments.

Rohypnol is classified as a schedule 6 drug in South Africa.[4] It is available by prescription only, and restricted to 1 mg doses. Travelers from South Africa to the United States are limited to a 30-day supply. The drug must be declared to US Customs upon arrival. If a valid prescription cannot be produced, the drug may be subject to Customs search and seizure, and the traveler may face criminal charges or deportation.

Abuse Potential

Drug-facilitated Sexual Assault

Flunitrazepam is known to induce anterograde amnesia in sufficient doses; individuals are unable to remember certain events that they experienced while under the influence of the drug. This effect is particularly dangerous when flunitrazepam is used to aid in the commission of sexual assault; victims may not be able to clearly recall the assault, the assailant, or the events surrounding the assault.

It is difficult to estimate just how many flunitrazepam-facilitated rapes have occurred in the past. Very often, biological samples are taken from the victim at a time when the effects of the drug have already passed and only residual amounts remain in the body fluids. These residual amounts are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to detect using standard screening assays available in the United States. If flunitrazepam exposure is to be detected at all, urine samples need to be collected within 72 hours and subjected to sensitive analytical tests. The problem is compounded by the onset of amnesia after ingestion of the drug, which causes the victim to be uncertain about the facts surrounding the rape. This uncertainty may lead to critical delays or even reluctance to report the rape and provide appropriate biological samples for testing. If a person suspects that he or she is the victim of a flunitrazepam-facilitated rape, he or she should get laboratory testing for flunitrazepam as soon as possible.

It must be noted that an inability to remember events, including sexual encounters, is not conclusive evidence of having consumed a drugged drink: Drunkenness itself causes blackouts, sleepiness, and a reduction in inhibitions. Only a timely screening for flunitrazepam can demonstrate its use.

Drug-facilitated Robbery

In the United Kingdom, the use of flunitrazepam and other "date rape" drugs has been connected to stealing from sedated victims. One expert quoted in a British tabloid estimated that up to 2,000 individuals are robbed each year after being spiked with powerful sedatives [1], making drug-assisted robbery a more common problem than drug-assisted rape.

Criminals sometimes use flunitrazepam before committing robbery as it has a calming and anti-emotive effect. This allows the criminal to perform the robbery without becoming anxious. Flunitrazepam is also known to induce anterograde amnesia making police interrogations more difficult.[5][6][7]

In a notable flunitrazepam related case, Selina Hakki was found guilty in December 2004 of using flunitrazepam to drug wealthy men and rob them of their clothes and accessories in the UK.

Recreational drug

Although flunitrazepam has become widely known in USA for its use as a date-rape drug, it is used more frequently as a recreational drug. It is used by high school and college students, rave party attendees, and heroin and cocaine users (who call a dose of flunitrazepam a "roofie") for recreational purposes, including:

  • To produce profound intoxication (Kurt Cobain overdosed on a mixture of flunitrazepam and champagne several weeks before his death)
  • To boost the high produced by heroin, or ease the anxiety and/or sleeplessness of withdrawal
  • To counteract the side effects of stimulants (e.g. insomnia, paranoia, jitteriness)
  • To "soften" the so-called "crash" which follows heavy usage of stimulants, such as cocaine or methamphetamine
  • To improve sex drive and appetite.

Flunitrazepam is usually consumed orally, and is often combined with alcohol. It is also occasionally insufflated (i.e. tablets are crushed into powder and snorted). In some European countries, there was an alcohol solution of flunitrazepam (Darkene), taken by injection, with very strong effects.

Side effects

Flunitrazepam is considered to be one of the most addictive of the benzodiazepines, along with clonazepam, midazolam, temazepam, lorazepam and alprazolam. Its use causes several notable side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of motor control
    • Dizziness
    • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Amnesia
    Gastrointestinal disturbances, lasting 12 or more hours.
    Respiratory depression in higher doses

Long-term use of flunitrazepam can result in psychological and physical dependence and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Flunitrazepam impairs cognitive and psychomotor functions, affecting reaction time and driving skill. The use of this drug in combination with alcohol potentiates these side effects, and can lead to toxicity.

Legal status

Flunitrazepam is currently a Schedule III drug under the international Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 [2]; in the United States, it is on Schedule IV

According to FDA Associate Director for Domestic and International Drug Control Nicholas Reuter[3]:

Flunitrazepam was "temporarily controlled in Schedule IV pursuant to a treaty obligation under the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. At the time flunitrazepam was placed temporarily in Schedule IV . . . there was no evidence of abuse or trafficking of the drug in the United States."

Rophynol is currently under consideration to be rescheduled to Schedule I, and is already considered such in the States of Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

21 U.S.C. § 841 and 21 U.S.C. § 952 provide for stiff prison terms for the possession of flunitrazepam; penalties for use or distribution include life in prison, should death or serious injury occur.

In Australia, flunitrazepam is a schedule 8 drug, along with amphetamines and narcotic analgesics. All other benzodiazepines are schedule 4 drugs. Unauthorised possession of certain quantities of the drug is punishable by criminal sanctions in New South Wales under Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

Street Terms

Street Terms for Rohypnol:

  • Circles
  • Date Rape Drug
  • Forget me drug
  • Forget me now
  • Forget me pill
  • Getting roached
  • La Rocha
  • Lunch money drug
  • Mexican valium
  • Pingus
  • R-2
  • Reynolds
  • Rib
  • Roach-2
  • Roapies
  • Robutal
  • Roofies
  • Rope
  • Rophies
  • Row-shay
  • Ruffles
  • Wolfies
  • Fuzzy Loving

See also

  • benzodiazepines



  1. ^ "UK Rohypnol: The date rape drug", BBC News Online, Thursday, May 20, 1999. Retrieved on 2006-03-13.
  2. ^ Authorisation to Supply or Prescribe Drugs of Addiction: Flunitrazepam. Statutory Medical Notifications. Department of Health, Government of Western Australia (13 August 2004). Retrieved on 2006-03-13.
  3. ^ Guidelines for the Prescribing of Flunitrazepam (PDF). Pharmaceutical Services Branch. New South Wales Health (August 2000). Retrieved on 2006-03-13.
  4. ^ Drug Wars - About Drugs (11 October 2006).
  5. ^ "Bankrånare stärkte sig med Rohypnol?", DrugNews.
  6. ^ "Mijailovic var påverkad av våldsdrog", Sydsvenskan.
  7. ^ "Mijailovic var påverkad av våldsdrog", Expressen.

External links

Home | Up | Alprazolam | Diazepam | Flunitrazepam | Lorazepam | Midazolam

Drugs & Medication, made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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