Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB), is a central nervous system depressant which is abused for its euphoric, sedative, and anabolic (body-building) effects. Because very small amounts of GHB are found in the human body, GHB is often billed as a natural supplement. It was widely available over-the-counter in health food stores during the 1980s, until 1992 when it was made illegal in the USA.
Rohypnol, a trade name for Flunitrazepam, belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines — the same drug family as Valium, Halcyon, and Xanax. Rohypnol is significantly stronger than the other drugs in this family. Rohypnol is sold in both Europe and Latin America as a sleep aid, but is illegal in the USA.
GHB is also known as easy lay, G, Georgia Home Boy, gamma-oh, liquid ecstasy, liquid E, liquid X (Note: GHB is not Ecstasy), GBH or Grievous Bodily Harm, Organic Quaalude, scoop.
GBL and BD, are substitutes for GHB. Street or slang names include blue nitro, firewater, invigorate, revivarant, renewtrient, revitalize Plus, somato pro, thunder nectar, and verv.
Rohypnol is also known as circles, the date rape drug, the forget pill, La Rocha, Mexican valium, R-2, rib, roachies, roofies, roofenol, rophies, roche (pronounced roe-shay), and rope.
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. Powder use is on the rise — typically dissolved in a beverage.
Rohypnol comes as a pill, in one and two milligram doses that is taken orally or dissolved in liquid. The tablets are often white with a line across one side, and a number "1" or "2" inside a circle and the name 'Roche.' It is frequently used in combination with alcohol, and sometimes with other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin (to either accentuate the 'high' or help the user 'come down' from these drugs).
Both GHB and Rohypnol are inexpensive, which has made them increasingly popular with younger users.
The effects of GHB and Rohypnol follow a similar pattern. GHB takes effect within 10-20 minutes, but doesn't peak for almost an hour. Rohypnol begins to take effect within a half-hour, but does not peak for almost two hours. Both drugs initially cause a feeling of intoxication similar to alcohol (the user feels relaxed, sociable, and uninhibited), followed by a feeling of drowsiness. The effects can last from four to 24 hours. Higher doses can lead to seizures or coma. Combining use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties. GHB and two similar substances, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (BD) have been linked to poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.
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. GHB may produce withdrawal effects among users coming down from the drugs effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating.
Rohypnol is both physically and psychologically addictive. Withdrawal symptoms peak three to five days after use, and include extreme anxiety, muscle pain, headache, hallucinations, and seizures. Some withdrawal symptoms, including cardiovascular collapse, can be fatal.
Both GHB and Rohypnol present a serious overdose threat. Since they are depressants, both drugs can be fatal when mixed with alcohol. GHB is especially dangerous because its peak effect is delayed and users often take another dose thinking they haven't taken enough (and GHB can be fatal on its own). GHB is also risky because the strength can vary by batch. Symptoms of overdose can include intense drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma, muscle spasms, disorientation, vomiting, and slowed or stopped breathing. Fatalities usually occur from respiratory failure.
Both GHB and Rohypnol have a reputation as date rape drugs. These drugs are easily slipped into someone's drink (GHB is usually a liquid, and Rohypnol dissolves quickly), making the victim easily persuaded and physically weak, or entirely unconscious, leaving them vulnerable to rape, assault, or burglary. Rohypnol is especially dangerous because it causes black-outs, so the victim may have no memory of what happened to him or her.