Mickey Finn

Mickey Finn n. Slang. An alcoholic beverage that is surreptitiously altered to induce diarrhea or stupefy, render unconscious or otherwise incapacitate the person who drinks it.1i

“Kids know them as ‘roofies.’” 2

Imagine all the fears of parents whose daughters have hit dating age packed into one white pill the size of a dime.3 You probably remember stories about the party punch spiked with alcohol or the brownies baked with marijuana. Well it’s still happening . . . but now it’s those drugs plus some new ones.4

It costs about $3 at the high school water fountain5 in its original manufacturer’s packaging.6 It is [tasteless,78] colorless, odorless and quickly dissolves in a can of cola.

In about 10 minutes, it creates a drunklike effect lasting eight hours. It strengthens the effects of alcohol, causing loss of inhibition, sleepiness, relaxation and — perhaps worst of all for its victims — amnesia.

The pill is made of a drug called Rohypnol.9 Rohypnol is known by various street names: Roachies, La Roche, Rope, Rib, Roche, Rophies, Roofies, Ruffies. In an unconfirmed report out of Australia, it was referred to as “Stupefi,” and it has also been designated “the Quaalude of the ‘90s” in some media reports.10

Like Quaaludes, the trademark for methaqualone,ii a drug popular in the 1970s, Rohypnol can make people forget their troubles.11 It is also known as “the forget pill” because it can cause temporary blackouts.12 It has been used to extend or ease the effects of other drugs, or dropped in a drink to incapacitate unsuspecting people, leaving them with no memory of an assault or robbery.13

Rohypnol is a potent and hypnotic sedative,14 is 10 times more powerful than the commonly prescribed sedative Valium and is used legally in 64 countries before surgery and in treating insomnia.15 They are legally prescribed as sleeping pills in about 80 countries but not in the United States16 though Colombian drug traffickers, long the source of most of the world’s cocaine, are smuggling [the] powerful sedative onto the streets of the United States.17 The U.S. Customs Service said [5 March 1996] it is sealing the border against…Rohypnol.18 The United States…banned imports of the sedative Rohypnol and said it would seize it from individuals, in the mail or in commercial shipments.19

Police in several states say men have slipped pills into women’s drinks prior to sexual assaults.20 It’s the amnesia producing effects of Rohypnol that make it the drug of choice for prospective rapists.21 In Rohypnol related rapes, victims who are slipped the drug become dizzy and disoriented, and have trouble moving their arms and legs.22 Many cases have been reported, mostly in [Florida, Texas,23] and California.24

  • Two…brothers and a friend were charged with repeatedly raping a 15 year old…girl after they secretly put a roofie in her wine cooler.25
  • A 17 year old…girl raped Jan. 7, [1996,] while she was under the influence of roofies lost 10 hours between having dinner with friends and waking up in a strange hotel bed. Police…investigat[ed] a 29 year old suspect who was at the dinner.26
  • Prosecutors in Broward County, Fla., said one man bragged to friends that he had drugged and raped a dozen women.27
  • One Broward County man who pleaded guilty to roofie rape in a 1993 case — Mark Anthony Perez of Plantation — told authorities he used it to rape as many as 20 women.28
  • At least two Texas women have now died after unknowingly ingesting Rohypnol.29 The latest episode involved a 15 year old and a female friend given the drug and then raped by five men in El Paso.3031

[From 1 Jan to 28 June 1996, Florida’s32] poison control center ha[d] logged more than 100 reports of sexual assaults on victims [incapacitated by] “roofies” and law enforcement officials say abuse among teenagers is growing.33 “In just three weeks, more than 100,000 tablets of this drug were declared and brought into the country through Laredo, [Texas,] alone,” said Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.34

The drug, first seen in Florida in 1992, has proliferated to such a point that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have joined forces with local police to have Rohypnol’s illegal drug status strengthened to make penalties equal to [LSD,35] cocaine and heroin.

“A lot of times the guys don’t think they’ve done anything wrong,” said Cooper City, [Florida,] Police Detective Kregg Lupo. “This is not a rape in their eyes. They think if the girl is not awake or alert enough to say, ‘No,’ it’s not rape.”

“It’s very difficult making these cases,” said Dennis Nicewander, an assistant state attorney in the Broward sex crimes unit. “Usually these victims . . . don’t remember a thing.”

“It’s almost like the perfect crime,” he said. “Because they don’t have to worry about a witness testifying against them. And don’t think these guys aren’t figuring that out.”

The drug also has the potential to make rapists out of men who without the drug might not commit the crime, he said.

“Usually, they aren’t the kind of guys who would force themselves on someone for sex. They seem to be the kind of guys you’d see at happy hour with their buddies, the kind of frat boy mentality that thinks it’s fun to get a girl drunk and have their way.” 36

“We simply cannot, in good conscience, stand by and leave our wives and daughters, sisters and mothers, vulnerable to these sexual predators,” said Rep. Gerald Soloman, R N.Y.37 “The only way to protect them is to guarantee hard prison time for these cowards.” 38

“I can tell you I have told my 17 year old daughter never to accept a beverage of any kind from anyone unless it is in a sealed container that she opens herself,” [Stan Peacock] said. “Does that give you any kind of an idea how concerned I am about it?” 39

In addition to using the drug to gain power over others, high school and college students are increasingly taking Rohypnol to lower inhibitions.40 It is often taken in combination with beer as an “alcohol extender.” 41 “They take a pill and they drink a beer and they’re high for an entire day,” said police Sgt. John Johnston of Coral Gables, Fla.42

U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Gerorge Weise described it as “the party drug of today.” 43 The drug Rohypnol is gaining popularity as a cheap high in Colombia, the United States, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries.44

In an emergency move to stem use, Florida’s attorney general upgraded the penalty for possessing the sedative Rohypnol.45 Rohypnol was previously grouped with drugs having a low potential for abuse.46 Now, the penalty for possessing Rohypnol has increased from three to 30 years in prison.47

The House, by a vote of 421 - 1, approved legislation [26 Sep 1996] making it a crime to possess Rohypnol and similar powerful tranquilizers with the intent to commit a violent crime, including sexual assault.48 Use of…powerful tranquilizers to subdue rape victims would carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.49 The potential jail term increases to 20 years when the victim is aged 14 or younger.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D Calif., voted ‘no.’ She said it was “haphazard” and “dishonest” election year legislation that does not address similar use of other intoxicating substances, such as alcohol or cocaine. “It just sounds like typical political legislating by Republicans,” she said.50

The [US] Senate acted by voice vote [3 Oct 1996] to control use of Rohypnol. The bill must return to the House, where a slightly different version was [previously] approved.51 Separately, the House, by voice vote, approved and sent to President Clinton a Senate bill requiring the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to establish a national database to keep track of felons convicted of sex crimes involving violence or minors. The data base will include names, addresses, fingerprints and photos. The bill requires released offenders to register with the FBI which in turn is required to notify state officials when an offender moves. Community organizations and private groups could tap into the database via local law enforcement.52

Rohypnol, made by the Swiss company Roche [a.k.a. Hoffman-Larouch,53 a.k.a. Hoffman La Roche,54 a.k.a. Roche Pharmaceuticals, Inc.55], is not sold in the United States but is available by prescription in Colombia, as well as in other South American countries, Asia and Europe.56 Rohypnol is marketed and manufactured in Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia,57…[and] although Rohypnol is illegal in the United States, residents have been able to bring it in with a doctor’s prescription from Mexico or any of the 60 countries where the drug is legal.5859

Roche says it is not selling Rohypnol in the United States because there is too much competition with other sedatives.60 [Roche also] announced…it is converting to a smaller dose pill that will not dissolve as easily in a drink.61

Rohypnol [flunitrazepam] belongs to the family of medications called benzodiazepines which includes Valium (diazepam), Librium (chlorodiazepoxide) and Xanax (alprazolam).62 Like other benzodiazepines, flunitrazepam taken alone is unlikely to produce death, even if an overdose is taken. Combining flunitrazepam with alcohol reduces the safety margin, however, and is more likely to be lethal due to enhanced central nervous system depression. Rohypnol intoxication is generally associated with impaired judgment and impaired motor skills, and the combination of alcohol and flunitrazepam is also particularly hazardous because together, their effects on memory and judgement are greater than the effects resulting from either taken alone. It is commonly reported that persons who become intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and flunitrazepam have “blackouts” lasting 8 to 24 hours following ingestion. Disinhibition is another widely reported effect of Rohypnol, when taken either alone or in combination with alcohol.63

Like other sedative hypnotics, flunitrazepam can produce physical dependence, and abrupt cessation may cause signs and symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, intense dreaming, parenthesis, increased sensitivity to light and sounds, and grand mal seizures. From the pharmacological profile of flunitrazepam, withdrawal intensity from flunitrazepam alone would be expected to peak three to five days after cessation of use.64 A patient who is physically dependent but taking only flunitrazepam could be withdrawn using Phenobarbital.65

It’s important to teach your teen to be cautious without being paranoid.66 Don’t attend parties or other events alone.67 Always let a friend or someone else know where you are 68 [and] whom you are with.69 Be careful whom you accept opened food or drink from. Seek out an unopened package or can, or watch someone when they pour you a drink. Remember that punch type drinks are very easy to spike.70 Avoid…situations…such as being left in a room alone with strangers or going somewhere alone with someone.71 You might want to review some basic rape prevention techniques.72 Be assertive; don’t be intimidated into anything. Have confidence to say no and mean it.73

Children, and girls especially, are taught to fear sex crimes. They are told never to accept rides with strange men or to take candy from them. Yet the exact nature of the potential danger remains unknown and so the girl may build up an exceedingly great dread of a mysterious crime, perhaps thinking that it would be the worst thing that could happen to her. Thus, when she is attacked, she may be absolutely immobilized with fear. She freezes and is unable to wage an effective counterattack.74

i Make her drink a Mickey Finn.
— Charles Strouse (music) and Martin Charnin (lyrics), “It’s The Hard-Knock Life,” Annie (Edwin H. Morris & Co. and Charles Strouse, 1977), based on Little Orphan Annie

ii Methaqualone, sold under the brand names Quaalude and Sopor, is a depressant similar in effect to barbiturates.
— Spencer A. Rathus, Psychology, 3rd ed. (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1987), p. 186.


1 Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996), p. 133.

2 David Kidwell & Connie Piloto (Knight-Ridder Newspapers), “Dime-sized, $3 pill sends rape rates soaring,” The Seattle Times, 17 Feb 1996, p. A3.

3 Op. cit.

4 Jeff Lindenbaum, “Parenting; ‘roofies’ go a step beyond spiked punch,” The Seattle Times, 4 Dec 1996, p. D2.

5 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

6 Lindenbaum, “Parenting,” p. D2.

7 “Kemp hits ‘sad’ ethics; Gore decries ‘low road,’” The Seattle Times, 14 Oct 1996, p. A4.

8 “Staffer says security chief knew FBI files were gathered,” The Seattle Times, 4 Oct 1996, p. A7.

9 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

10 David E. Smith, M.D., Donald R. Wesson, M.D., & Sarah R. Calhoun, M.P.H., “Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) fact sheet,” Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, Inc., 1997.

11 The Associated Press, “Powerful sedative from Colombia gains popularity among U.S. teens,” The Seattle Times, 2 April 1995, p. A8.

12 David Jackson (Dallas Morning News), “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative used for date rapes,” The Seattle Times, 6 March 1996, p. A8.

13 “Across the Nation,” The Seattle Times, 15 June 1996, p. A2.

14 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

15 “Across the Nation,” 15 June 1996, p. A2.

16 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

17 “Powerful sedative from Colombia,” p. A8.

18 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

19 “Across the Nation,” The Seattle Times, 5 March 1996, p. A4.

20 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

21 Lindenbaum, “Parenting,” p. D2.

22 “Across the Nation,” 15 June 1996, p. A2.

23 Op. cit.

24 Lindenbaum, “Parenting,” p. D2.

25 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

26 Op. cit.

27 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

28 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

29 Editorial, “Fighting the ‘date rape’ drug,” The Los Angeles Times, 8 Oct 1996.

30 Op. cit.

31 Reuters, “‘Date rape’ drug overdose kills girl,” The Los Angeles Times, 4 Oct 1996.

32 Across the Nation, The Seattle Times, 27 June 1996, p. A6.

33 Op. cit.

34 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

35 “Across the Nation,” 27 June 1996, p. A6.

36 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

37 The Associated Press, “Bill penalizes use of drugs to subdue rape victims,” Journal American, 1996.

38 Op. cit.

39 Kidwell & Piloto, “Dime-sized,” p. A3.

40 Lindenbaum, “Parenting,” p. D2.

41 Op. cit.

42 “Powerful sedative from Colombia,” p. A8.

43 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

44 “Powerful sedative from Colombia,” p. A8.

45 “Across the Nation,” 27 June 1996, p. A6.

46 Op. cit.

47 Op. cit.

48 “Capital Watch,” The Seattle Times, 27 Sep 1996, p. A6.

49 “Bill penalizes use of drugs.”

50 Op. cit.

51 “Staffer says security chief,” p. A7.

52 Op. cit.

53 Op. cit.

54 David Stipp, “The business of genetics,” Fortune, 31 March 1997, 135(6), p. 67.

55 Smith, Wesson & Calhoun, “Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) fact sheet.”

56 “Powerful sedative from Colombia,” p. A8.

57 “Across the Nation,” 5 March 1996, p. A4.

58 Jackson, “U.S. forbids imports of seductive sedative,” p. A8.

59 Mary Beth Sheridan, “Americans fuel Tijuana drugstore boom; border: retailers are key suppliers to U.S. of popular, illegal Rohypnol,” The Los Angeles Times, 5 July 1996.

60 “Powerful sedative from Colombia,” p. A8.

61 “Across the Nation,” 15 June 1996, p. A2.

62 Smith, Wesson & Calhoun, “Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) fact sheet.”

63 Op. cit.

64 Op. cit.

65 Op. cit.

66 Lindenbaum, “Parenting,” p. D2.

67 Op. cit.

68 Op. cit.

69 Op. cit.

70 Op. cit.

71 Op. cit.

72 Op. cit.

73 Op. cit.

74 Janet Shibley Hyde, Understanding Human Sexuality, 4th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990), p. 479.

See also

Original Chloral Hydrate knockout drops (search)
Sodium Pentahol (brand name Thiopental Sodium 8, aka Sodium P.; a CIA “truth-serum”)
GHB (Gamma hydroxy butyrate)
Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride)
Drink Detective
Mind Control
CIA Mind Control