Rohypnol, popularly called "roofie", is the brand name for flunitrazepam. It is mostly a concern because of its abuse as a "date rape" drug. People may unknowingly be given the drug which, when mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate a victim and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. The severe mental incapacitation, along with the amnesia produced by Rohypnol, make it difficult, if not impossible, for rape victims to recall the circumstances surrounding a sexual assault.
Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants. It can also produce physical and psychological dependence
Rohypnol is classified in the pharmaceutical family as Valium, although ten times more powerful. It is a potent and fast-acting sedative, prescribed by doctors for severe and debilitating sleep disorders since 1975. Rohypnol produces sedative-hypnotic effects including muscle relaxation and amnesia.
Illicit use of rohypnol began in Europe in the 1970s and started appearing in the United States in the early 1990s, where it became known as "rophies," "roofies," "roach," "rope," and the "date rape" drug. Poison control centers in Miami, one of the first sites of rohypnol abuse, reported an increase in withdrawal seizures among people addicted to rohypnol. A similar drug, clonazepam, was sold as "roofies" in southern states and marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin and in Mexico as Rivotril. Clonazepam is sometimes abused to enhance the effects of heroin and other opiates.