ROHYPNOL®: A Review on Abuse as Date Rape Drug

Author Name: Ashish Badiye*,Mansi Gupta
Author Email: Badiye.Ashish@gmail.com

Abstract

Date rape drug refers to a drug that can be used to assist in the execution of a sexual assault, such as date rape. Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to. Drugs used to facilitate rape may have sedative, hypnotic, dissociative and/or amnesiac effects, and can be added to a food or drink without the victim’s knowledge. These drugs are powerful and dangerous. Date rape drugs are used on both males and females. Rohypnol® is a brand name for flunitrazepam (a benzodiazepine), a very potent tranquilizer similar in nature to valium (diazepam), but many times stronger. The drug produces a sedative effect, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and a slowing of psychomotor responses. Sedation occurs 20-30 minutes after administration and lasts for several hours. Rohypnol® became (in) famous because it can cause memory “blackouts,” periods of memory loss that follow ingestion of the drug with alcohol. It has short term as well as long terms effects. Rohypnol® overdose may result in excessive sedation, impairment of balance and speech, and may progress in severe overdoses to respiratory depression, coma, and possibly death. Laboratory identification of flunitrazepam is very difficult to achieve. There is only a 72 hour period of time to test for it before the drug is metabolized in the body. There are only insignificant traces after that time which is nearly impossible to detect.

Keywords

Flunitrazepam, Rohypnol, Date Rape Drug, Forensic Detection of Rohypnol.

Introduction

The term “date rape drug” originated in American journalism in the 1990s, amid widespread reports that previously unknown herbs and pharmaceuticals were making sexual assaults easier and more frequent. Most Americans still use the term in that narrow sense, to refer to what they consider “exotic” drugs, but alcohol and many other common substances can incapacitate a person and have been used in sexual assaults. Date rape drugs also called as CLUB DRUGS are pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults in bars, night clubs, concerts and parties.
There are few most commonly used drugs for date rape. They are-
1) Alcohol: It is the most commonly used date rape drug as it is most commonly available. Many assailants use alcohol because their victims willingly imbibe it, and can be encouraged to drink enough to lose inhibitions or consciousness.
2) GHB- gamma hydroxybutyric acid: It is colorless, odorless liquid that acts on the central nervous system as a depressant/ anesthesia. It has street names easy lay, liquid ecstasy, liquid x, clear x, liquid dream. It is not produced or manufactured by any pharmaceutical company; instead it is made in illegal drug labs or by amateur chemists at homes. It is easily made with commonly and readily available ingredients and novice chemistry skills. It takes 10-15 minutes after ingestion to show effects. The effect lasts for 3-6 hours when taken without alcohol & 36-72 hours when mixed with alcohol or other drugs. In very high dosages, unconsciousness, or even coma occur in 5 min. It exactly looks like water.
3) Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia and several other conditions. Some benzodiazepines used to treat insomnia are powerful sedative, motor impairing, and strong amnesic properties. Flunitrazepam (rohypnol) is popularly held to be a date rape drug.

Conclusion

Rave drugs, club drugs and some other easily available over the counter prescription drugs are a menace to the society. Incidences of date rape on a all time high. Some are reported and most of them are not. Date rape drugs are being abused very widely and hence, their use, other than for approved medical and/or research purposes should be completely banned. The chemical structures of these drugs are often modified to avoid the possible detection. But with the recent advances in the technologies, detection of a date rape drug such as Rohypnol® (Flunitrazepam) and its metabolites is possible in biological samples (bodily fluids and hairs) even in the smallest of concentrations.

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