BASIC FACTS ABOUT GHB and Rohypnol
What are GHB and Rohypnol?
GHB, or Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate, is a central nervous system
depressant. Because very small amounts of GHB are found in the human body, GHB
is often billed as a "natural" supplement, or as an anabolic steroid that helps
build muscle mass (this claim was never proven). In actuality, GHB is made from
a substance called GBL (which, when ingested, turns into GHB in the body and has
the same effects). GBL is a solvent found in nail polish and floor cleaning
(1,4 butanediol) also converts to GHB in the body. It is illegal to manufacture
or distribute any of these three substances for human consumption.
Rohypnol is the brand name for flunitrazepam, and it is also a
central nervous system depressant. It is in the same drug family as Valium,
Halcyon, and Xanax, but is ten times as strong.
Rohypnol is produced by Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc. in
both Europe and Latin America as a sleep aid, but it is illegal in the United
What are the street names?
GHB is also known as "G," Georgia
Home Boy, Gamma-OH, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid E, Liquid X (GHB is not ecstasy), GBH
or Grievous Bodily Harm (from the common misabbreviation), Organic Quaalude,
GBL and BD are often marketed
under the names Blue Nitro, Thunder Nectar, Revivarant, Renewtrient, Revitalize
Plus, SomatoPro, Invigorate, Firewater, and Verv
is also called roofies, roachies, rophies, roofenol, roche
(pronounced roe-shay), La Rocha, rope, R-2, circles, Mexican valium, rib, and
the Forget Pill
How are they taken?
GHB can be produced as a clear liquid (which has a salty taste
but no smell), a white powder, or a tablet or capsule. It is most commonly used
as a liquid - which is packaged in a small, clear, plastic bottle - and taken
orally by the capful, but powder use is on the rise (which is typically
dissolved into a beverage).
Rohypnol comes as a pill, in 1 and 2 milligram doses, that is
taken orally, or dissolved in a liquid. The tablets are white and have a line
across one side, and a number "1" or "2" inside a circle with the name "Roche"
above it on the other. It is frequently used in combination with alcohol, and
sometimes with other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin (to either
accentuate or help the user come down from the typical high of these drugs).
Both GHB and Rohypnol are inexpensive, which has made them
increasingly popular at raves and with younger users.
The effects of GHB and Rohypnol follow a similar pattern. The
effects of Rohypnol begin within a half-hour, but don't peak for almost two
hours. GHB takes effect within 10-20 minutes, but don't peak for almost an hour.
The feeling the user gets from both drugs are the same - first they feel an
intoxication similar to alcohol (the user feels relaxed, sociable, affectionate
and playful, and disinhibited), followed by a feeling of drowsiness. Higher
doses can lead to a sleep from which the user cannot be woken. The effects can
last from 4-24 hours.
Special Issues Surrounding GHB and Rohypnol
Date Rape Drugs - Both GHB and
Rohypnol have a reputation as date rape drugs, as they are being used to
sexually assault women and men. How it happens - the drugs are easily slipped
into someone's drink (GHB is usually a liquid, and Rohypnol dissolves quickly),
and the person becomes either very open to suggestion and physically weak, or
passes out entirely, leaving them vulnerable to the person who spiked their
drink. Rohypnol is even more disturbing, because it causes people to black out -
they have no memory the next day of what has happened to them.
It's important never to accept a drink from
someone that has already been opened, or to leave your drink unattended - even
if it is just a soda or water.
Hoffman-LaRoche has begun to take steps against this (but
remember, any US use is illegal) by producing Rohypnol that turns a clear
beverage blue (or a dark beverage cloudy), but the former version is still
widely available and still an issue.
Both GHB and Rohypnol present a serious overdose threat.
Since they are depressants, both drugs can be fatal when mixed with alcohol
(although an overdose of Rohypnol, on it's own, is not generally fatal). With
GHB, another problem is the fact that it takes a while for the peak effects of
the drug to take effect - people often take another dose thinking they haven't
taken enough (and GHB can
be fatal on it's own). GHB is also tricky because it is
manufactured by individuals, and the strength can vary from batch to batch.
Symptoms of overdose can include intense drowsiness,
unconsciousness, or coma, muscle spasms, disorientation, vomiting, and slowed or
stopped breathing (fatalities usually occur from respiratory failure).
GHB - Right now, the long-term
effects of GHB use are not known. However, since it is made from industrial
chemicals, there is a risk of severe burns to the mouth, throat, and stomach
from GHB that has been improperly produced.
Rohypnol - is both physically and
psychologically addictive. Withdrawal symptoms peak 3-5 days after last use, and
include extreme anxiety, muscle pain, headache, hallucinations, and seizures.
Some withdrawal symptoms, including cardiovascular
collapse, can be fatal.
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