"I was given it three years ago to help me go to sleep after a night out," says Nick, a
23- year- old gay clubber. "Basically I stayed awake and had a real laugh. It's a bit messy, like
being on an E but without the rushing. You lose all your inhibitions. The most I've had is ten
in a day - I was having sex with someone all day."
Has Nick had any problems from using them? He says that he hasn't, although he does know friends who are addicted, and need to take them in the morning to function. He takes "one or two" a week. Then he pauses. "You do lose your memory. The Saturday just gone, some friends came round and we had a bottle of vodka with some Rohypnols before going to the pub. I can remember leaving my flat, the next thing I know I'm eating two bowls of muesli before going to bed. But it's not like I fall over or anything. They're great to bring you down after a big night out." He barely remembers going to a club one night with friends, equally as tanked and trashed as he was. When he came to the next day he was told - repeatedly - that he'd urinated on the floor. No different from someone blind... except this is different. Rohypnol virtually guarantees you a blackout. After all, it is a sleeping pill.
Adrian and Rick had a three week binge with Rohypnol brought into the UK by someone they met on holiday. They took it most nights before going to the pub or staying in with their girlfriends. "The first time I remember them doing it was when we were in the pub," says Jackie, a friend of theirs. "They had one before going in, and another with their drinks. They looked absolutely out of it, awful, monging out like they were on heroin. They didn't know what they had been doing. One of them said to me, 'I could give you one of these now, take you anywhere, do anything to you and you wouldn't remember a thing.'"
And it's this potential for memory loss that's the most persistently reported side- effect, and which has led to Rohypnol's notoriety in America. While its use in Britain is growing, it has yet to reach the critical mass before someone, somewhere, decides something must be done. But a series of high- profile 'date rape' cases have caterpulted Rohypnol to headline status in the South and East United States.
the blackout pill? cont...