GHB and Rohypnol have many characteristics in common the least of which is their reputation for being “date rape” drugs. These central nervous system depressants are colorless, tasteless and odorless. All attributes that make them undetectable if they are slipped into an unsuspecting victim’s drink.

What is GHB?

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) or 4-hydroxybutanoic acid occurs naturally in most animals, in the human central nervous system and citrus fruits. This drug is also produced as a result of fermentation processes and as such can be found in beer and fruit wines. For many years this substance was also sold in health food stores as an aid in muscle development and to support weight loss. The active ingredient in GHB is sodium oxybate (salt) which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Cataplexy. However, GHB has been classified by the FDA as a Schedule I controlled substance. This classification makes GHB an illicit drugs with no accepted medicinal benefits. All Schedule I drugs require special licensing for use and carry stiff penalties for possession, manufacture distribution and use.

Street names for GHB includes:

  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Georgia
  • Home Boy
  • Grievous Bodily Harm
  • Gamma G
  • Somatomax
  • Growth Hormone Booster

GHB usually appears as a liquid. The sodium oxybate component of the drug gives it a salty or chemical taste which is usually indistinguishable when it is mixed with other liquids with a sugar content.

History of GHB

GHB was originally manufactured as an anesthetic but was rejected for use by the Unites States because of its potential for addiction and other adverse effects. Research on GHB to determine the drug’s potential for treating sleep disorders began in 1987. During that time this drug was also being touted for its ability to enhance production of growth hormone. This led to abuse of the drug and multiple overdose deaths associated with its use. As a result, In 1990 GHB was taken off store shelves. The illicit use of the drug however did not diminish.¬†Overtime it drew attention when it was implicated in numerous cases as the assisting drug for sexual assault.

Side Effects of GHB

Even in small doses, GHB’s powerful effects on the brain can produce euphoria. In large does this drug is extremely dangerous because it depresses the respiratory function and the heart rate which can increase the risk of coma. Other effects of GHB on the body includes:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed and irregular breathing patterns

Dosing is critical for GHB. A small incremental increase in dosage can heighten the effects and the risk. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) GHB use impacts the GABAB receptor and a specific GHB binding site in the brain. GHB’s sedating effects has also allegedly been the cause of multiple drug poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and deaths.

What is Rohypnol?

Rohypnol is the brand name for Flunitrazepam. As a benzodiazepine compound, its effects are similar to other central nervous system depressants such as GHB. Although Rohypnol is an illicit drug in the United States, it has been classified as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance and retains legal status in at least 60 other countries. However, it has not been accepted for use by the United States medical community. Where its use is legal, the medicinal properties are recognized for the treatment of insomnia. As an illicit drug, Rohypnol use and abuse is prevalent in the United States.

The mind altering, fast acting effects of Rohypnol produces an intoxicating high for users. This drug is manufactured in tablet form and can be undetectable when slipped in drinks because it is more or less tasteless, odorless and colorless. However, during the nineties, the European manufacturers of Rohypnol, in an effort to mitigate its use as a date rate drug, amended the production methods making it dissolve more quickly, turn the liquid blue and leave a green residue behind. Rohypnol may appear as a round, white tablet with a single or crisscross imprint on one side and the number 1 or 2 encircled on the other. Other tablets may be green, brown or light pink.

Street names for Rohypnol includes:

  • Roofies
  • Roach
  • Roofenol
  • Roch
  • La Rocha
  • Roll-and-Fall
  • Rope
  • Forget-Me Not

History of Rohypnol

Rohypnol was originally manufactured in 1972 because of the need for a stronger sedative than was available to the medical community at that time. The drug quickly gained popularity as a powerful sedative was available on the commercial market in Europe within three years. By 1980 it was being used in many other countries. The drugs adverse side effects however, soon necessitated changes in drug laws to protect the public. Regulations governing the use of Rohypnol reflected the fact that it was a powerful narcotic with a high potential for abuse and addiction. These amendments mandated strict guidelines on the drugs manufacture, possession and distribution. The drug was introduced to the United States during the 1980s however, it was not accepted by the American Medical Community and therefore remains an illegal substance privy to severe legal penalties.

Effects of Rohypnol

Like all narcotic drugs Rohypnol’s effects are both physical and psychological. Based on how the drug is used these effects can be mild to severe as well as life threatening. According to the NIDA, like other benzodiazepines, Rohypnol acts at the brain’s GABAA receptor and can produce anterograde amnesia, which may hinder the individual’s ability to remember events that they experienced while under the influence of the drug. The following effects have also been noted:

  • Euphoria
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Reduced inhibitions.
  • Sedation
  • Excitability in some people
  • Hallucinations in some people.
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Imbalance in gait and speech
  • Grimacing and rolling of the eyes
  • Temporary memory loss or amnesia

When this drug is used in conjunction with alcohol or other depressants it presents the possibility of coma or death. There is also no antidote for this drug. Halting use suddenly may cause the user to experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms based on habitual use, duration and dosage. Withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, tremors, accelerated heart rate and psychosis.


Treatment for GHB and Rohypnol typically require a process of detoxification. Cognitive behavior therapy along with a comprehensive rehabilitation program that may include dual diagnosis treatment is also available for those suffering from dependence or addiction to these substances.

If you or a loved one is in addiction or have a dependence on GHB or Rohypnol, we can help. Call our Drug Rehab Treatment Centers today at 877-855-3470 and speak to one of our addiction counselors. We are available 24/7 to help you get on the road to recovery.