“Roofies” are commonly known as “rape” drugs, but typically refer to a drug called Rohypnol, also known as flunitrazepam (another type of roofie is gamma-hydroxybutyrate, better known as GHB). “Flunitrazepam is a sedative-hypnotic drug in the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines,” Dr. Brenna Farmer, chief of the department of emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, tells Yahoo Life.
The commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States are Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam), which are used for muscle relaxation and to control anxiety and seizures. While Rohypnol falls into this same category, it is not approved for medical use in the United States. In fact, Rohypnol — which is 10 times stronger than Valium — is illegal in the United States, according to the Justice Department, but it’s legal in other countries, where it’s used to treat insomnia. The drug is smuggled into the United States via other countries, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Roofies are tasteless, odorless, and at one point were used to dissolve in a liquid, making it difficult to detect if someone had secretly slipped a roofie into your drink. However, in the late 1990s, due to “concerns about the drug’s role in sexual assault,” according to the Justice Department, the drugmaker changed the white pill to an olive shade with a blue core that turns light blue drinks. As the agency points out, generic versions of Rohypnol may lack the telltale blue dye, and the dye can be hidden in dark-colored liquids.
What are the signs you’ve been given a roofie?
Experts say it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of being covered, just in case it happens to you or someone you know. “When you consume a roofie, the symptoms someone will notice are similar to alcohol intoxication or extreme alcohol intoxication,” says Farmer. “You can see slurred speech and be unsteady when walking and become lethargic or comatose.”
Farmer adds, “People will also liken it to feeling extremely intoxicated and then passing out. The biggest safety concern is not being able to protect yourself due to these symptoms.
Someone who has been covered up can appear to be much more intoxicated than would typically be expected, in a way that is disproportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed. The drug’s effects also occur quickly — within 15 to 20 minutes of ingestion — and can last more than 12 hours, according to the Department of Justice.
What happens to your body when you take roofies?
As with other benzodiazepines, roofies are central nervous system depressants, which can lead to a variety of side effects. “They commonly cause decreased anxiety, slurred speech, loss of coordination and balance, amnesia, fatigue, and decreased heart rate,” Dr. Phillip Kadaj, an internal medicine specialist at MyMichigan Health and a JustAnswer medical expert, told Yahoo Life. com.
While the drug is considered a sedative, Dr. Sophia Yen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Pandia Health and a clinical associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford Medical School, tells Yahoo Life that, in some cases, people who have been covered may have the opposite reaction, becoming very excited or aggressive. However, she says, it’s less likely to happen.
Why are roofies dangerous?
Roofies are known as “rape” drugs because they leave people in a sedated and incapacitated state, which can make them more vulnerable to sexual assault by another individual. Farmer says the danger lies in not being able to protect yourself.
But what makes the drug even more dangerous and worrying is the way it reacts with alcohol. “Their effect is especially enhanced when ingested with other substances that are central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol,” says Kadaj.
According to the Justice Department, when combined with alcohol, roofies can cause anterograde amnesia, which Yen says is probably one of their more concerning side effects.
“Anterograde amnesia means you forget things that happened while you were on the drug — and some of it before,” she explains. “So if you were sexually assaulted or raped, you wouldn’t remember it.”
This is not only harmful to the victim, but can also mean that the perpetrator is more likely to get away with no consequences. “People who’ve been covered wake up in the morning in a bed, with their panties down, or feel like they’ve had sex, but no memory of having had it,” says Yen.
How can you protect yourself from someone putting a roof on your drink?
Experts recommend not leaving your drink unattended and staying alert when out at parties and bars. This means: don’t drink anything that is given to you by someone you don’t know or that you haven’t seen being prepared.
Plus, you can ask for a plastic cover for your drink or bring your own to give yourself (and your drink) an extra layer of security.
Also, experts say, go with the buddy system. “The big thing I always recommend is not to go out alone,” says Farmer. “Go as a group, make a plan and watch each other’s backs. Be aware of the possibility and keep an eye on yourself and those you are with.
What should you do if you have been covered?
If you think you or a friend may have been covered up, experts recommend visiting the nearest emergency room to get checked out. “The medical team will conduct an evaluation, including obtaining a history of events, medical history, and physical exam,” says Farmer. “They will try to determine if the patient or those with them remember anything about the time period, they can identify if the patient ate or drank anything, if there was any length of time when no one was with the patient, and if anyone he could have been sexually assaulted, among many other questions.
Wellbeing, parenting, body image and more – know the Who behind the Oh with the Yahoo Life newsletter. Sign up here.