Rohypnol is the chill- out drug that makes you forget. You won't know where you were,
who you were with or what you did. And it's been linked to a string of rapes in America...
Words: Mark White
Illustrations: David Tazzyman
IT'S snorted in Chile, injected on the Continent, implicated as a date rape aid in America. But the British take it with vodka chasers - or maybe a beer - before relaxing with a spliff. You want proof that in 1997, clubland's drug culture is about more than ecstasy and drugs that make you dance? Think Rohypnol (pronounced ro- hip- nol).
In a way, this story is 20 years old. Living the life in the disco days of glitterball excess? Take uppers to party, and downers to bring yourself back to Earth - and definitely to bed - later. Living the life? Cocaine then, ecstasy now. Valium or quaaludes then, Rohypnol now. As recreational drug use has soared over the last ten years, so has polydrug (more than one drug) use. The amphetamine- based nature of ecstasy, and the increasing number of pills cut with speed, led clubbers who didn't want to stay awake to seek a shortcut to sleep after a night out clubbing. After the clampdown on tamazepam supply a few years ago, people started looking around for another shortcut. Enter Rohypnol, a prescription- only sleeping pill. The clubbers Mixmag spoke to didn't see it as a problem. The Government doesn't see it as a problem: it isn't listed on the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 which banned the sale and possession of the most commonly known recreational drugs. Its possession is, in fact, lawful, although its sale could lead to a maximum sentence of two years jail and/or an unlimited fine. Rumours that its possession will soon be made illegal were unable to be confirmed.
But the States has seen a number of horrifying rape cases involving the drug. It works like this.
A guy chats a girl up in a club and slips something in her drink. She falls ill. He helps her out.
She comes to hours later after a complete blackout. She's been raped.
And all sleeping pills carry the potential for abuse. Widespread prescription of Valium decades ago led to thousands of housewives becoming addicted, spending months or even years in a daze. And tales emerging from British Rohypnol users show it, too, has an unwelcome side- effect when abused. Two friends wake up, crashed out in a flat, and look outside for their car. It isn't there, and they don't know where they left it. A man gets arrested trying to shoplift a vacuum cleaner. Another urinates in the middle of a club. Yet another gets into his car and drives down the wrong side of the road, narrowly missing several head- on crashes. They had all taken Rohypnol. No problem?
the blackout pill? cont...