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Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) & Violence

1 General comments

1.1 Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) is a benzodiazepine type drug with fast-acting sedative/hypnotic (calming and sleep-inducing) effects. Other drugs of this class are well known, including Diazepam (Valium), nitrazepam (Mogadon), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), temazepam and many others. Rohypnol acts by modulating the reactivity of GABA-ergic receptors (gamma-amino butyric acid), a handful of fatal overdoses have been reported

1.2 Rohypnol, being colourless and tasteless, has commonly been used to spike drinks in "date rape" situations Following widespread reports of use as a date-rape drug, the manufacturers of Rohypnol introduced a dye to alert potential date-rape victims.

2 Rohypnol & Violence

2.1 Daderman & Lidberg reported "Flunitrazepam, widely known by its trade names (e.g. Rohypnol), may cause severe violence, especially in combination with alcohol. Flunitrazepam abusers become cold-blooded, ruthless and violent, and do not remember their violence. Reputedly it is supplied to professional hit-men and enforcers by their bosses to promote ruthless efficacy. One case report describes how a young man, intoxicated with flunitrazepam and involved in causing serious knife and gunshot wounds and taking hostages, felt so invincible that he openly challenged the police, threatening them with an assault rifle, but was himself shot."

2.2 In a later study of 19 juvenile flunitrazepam abusers, Daderman & Lidberg reported: "An overdose of FZ gives an increased feeling of power and self-esteem, reduces fear and insecurity, and provides the belief that everything is possible. FZ is also associated with loss of episodic memory and with impulsive violence, particularly when combined with alcohol....Almost all of the FZ abusers had been previously sentenced for serious violent offenses." and concluded: "Our data suggest that FZ abused by psychiatrically vulnerable subjects (i.e., with high scores on boredom susceptibility and verbal aggression) poses a serious hazard both to the abusers as well as the community."

2.3 Salvaggio et al studied heroin addicts who also used flunitrazepam, normally initiated via a doctors prescription, finding "amnesia and increased feeling of power (11% of cases), often resulting in serious violent offenses."

2.4 The interactions of Rohynol and the GABA-ergic receptors can lead to a reduction in serotonin levels, which have been widely-associated with increased risk of violent behaviour or suicide.

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