Methaqualone is a generic name for a chemical that has been marketed under brand names that include Quaalude, Optimil, Parest, Somnafac, Sopor (in the United States) and Mandrax, Melsed, Melsedin, Renoval (in the United Kingdom).
Other brand names for methaqualone include Cateudil, Dormutil, Hyminal, Isonox, Mequelone, Mequin, Methadorm, Mozambin, Somnafac, Toquilone Compositum, Triador, Tuazole. (reference 1)
--- Name: 2-Methyl-3-(4-methylphenyl)-4(3H)-quinazolinone
--- Molecular Formula: C16H14N2O
--- The methaqualone molecule is made up of 16 carbon atoms, 14 hydrogen atoms, 2 nitrogen atoms, 1 oxygen atom.
The effects of methaqualone are similar to other depressants such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and to a lesser extent alcohol. Depressants are substances that reduce stimulation and generally make a person feel more calm.
Substances classified as depressants, also referred to as downers or tranquilizers, do not necessarily cause mental depression. In fact most people say the opposite and that they improve their mental disposition.
The term depressant drug is used to indicate a substance that slows down the function of various parts of the body, like the central nervous system. This results in a reduction of the heart and breathing rate, as well as lowering blood pressure.
Medications that are classified as depressants are utilized by physicians to treat conditions that include anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, stress, as well as other related afflictions. In some cases they may also treat seizures.
Methaqualone has several unique medical properties when compared to other depressants:
It can reduce or suppress coughs.
It can be used as a local anesthetic.
It can be utilized as an antihistamine.
It can prevent muscle spasms in the stomach. (reference 2)
For individuals with no tolerance:
1) Small doses under 150 milligrams generally create feelings of calmness, relaxation, drowsiness and sedation. Some people may experience anxiety and restlessness.
2) Moderate doses of 150-300 milligrams create feelings of euphoria, increased relaxation and sedation. Increased sociability and reduced inhibitions may also be present.
3) Doses over 300 milligrams can impair coordination, thinking, vision, as well as cause agitation and slurred speech. Doses in this range can also result in general anesthesia and seizures.
Overdose symptoms include: coma, convulsions, delirium, hypertonia, restlessness, twitching, difficulty walking, slow breathing, overreaction to external or bodily stimulation.
Although one of the main effects of methaqualone is sedation, a good number of users say they feel mentally relaxed but alert, and physically energetic, after taking it.
Image: Methaqualone related artwork
Published: 1988 Burke Publishing Company
Author: Marilyn Carroll - Gary Gallo
From: Front of the hardcover Methaqualone: The Quest for Oblivion
Methaqualone was first synthesized in India in the 1950s as a substance that was intended to prevent and/or cure malaria. Researchers soon observed that it was not effective at preventing or curing malaria.
However, after further testing they became aware of the sedative and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. Methaqualone was first marketed to Japanese and European consumers as a sleeping pill.
It was introduced as a product that was supposed to be a safe barbiturate substitute, with less chance of becoming habit forming. This was an important consideration and helped the drug become popular fairly quickly after its debut.
It should be noted that in 1902 the Bayer company produced a substance with the generic name barbital, also known as barbitone. It was the first barbiturate to be synthesized.
In 1904 the company started marketing barbital as Veronal. It was most often taken to help a person sleep and proved to be an improvement, when compared to other medications available at that time.
Barbiturates enjoyed a fairly good reputation until the 1940s and 1950s. At that time their psychological and physical dependence problems became more widely recognized. In addition there were an increasing number of overdose fatalities.
As a result of this, in the 1950s and 1960s, more and more doctors were reducing the number of barbiturate prescriptions that they wrote. This resulted in the need for a product with similar properties to fill the gap.
Some of the early drugs utilized to replace barbiturates were two classes of drugs known as benzodiazepines and quinazolinones. The benzodiazepine known as chlordiazepoxide (brand name Librium) became available worldwide in 1960.
In the USA, the quinazolinone known as methaqualone became available in 1962. Both benzodiazepines and quinazolinones were welcomed by the medical community as, what were supposed to be, non-addictive and safer alternatives to barbiturates.
In 1963 Hoffmann-La Roche began to market another Benzodiazepine. This one had the generic name of diazepam and it was sold under the brand name Valium. From 1969 to 1982, diazepam was the best selling medication in the United States.
By 1965, methaqualone was the number one sedative in the United Kingdom. At that time it was combined with the antihistamine diphenhydramine and marketed as Mandrax, by Roussel Laboratories.
William H. Rorer Inc. was the American company that started marketing methaqualone under the brand name Quaalude. They did so in 1965, at the same time they also marketed an antacid under the brand name Maalox.
The company chose to employ an unusual double a (aa) in the spelling of the names of both products.
By the early 1970s, the Quaalude brand was in the top 10 best selling sedatives category in the United States.
As time passed, the negative effects of long term use of quinazolinones and benzodiazepines became more apparent. By the early to mid 1980s the full extent of the dangerous side of these medications was realized.
Long term health problems may include:
Chronic drowsiness and sluggishness.
Shortened memory and attention span.
Loss of coordination and awareness.
Anxiety and nervousness.
Involuntary eye movements. (reference 3)
In retrospect it can be seen that quinazolinones and benzodiazepines are not much safer than barbiturates. While the need to find a replacement for barbiturates was real, the haste to find alternatives proved nearly as dangerous.
Taking any one of these substances on a daily basis will usually result in tolerance issues within 1-2 weeks, and dependence issues within 1-2 months. When they are not available, severe withdrawal symptoms are common.
In the USA the marketing of methaqualone based pharmaceutical products stopped in 1982 and it was withdrawn from the market. In 1984 methaqualone was transferred to Schedule I of the CSA (Controlled Substance Act).
High potential for abuse.
No accepted medical use.
Lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.
This made methaqualone an illegal substance in United States and it was no longer legal, even for medical purposes. Benzodiazepines and barbiturates are still legally available. In India methaqualone is illegal. In Canada methaqualone requires a prescription.
Methaqualone can be ingested orally, smoked, injected. The most common method of consumption in most Western countries is by taking it orally.
In the right dose size methaqualone can produce feelings of being very pleasantly drunk. However, when compared to alcohol there is no, or very little, hangover the next day.
In the late 1960s methaqualone started to become a popular recreational drug. Taking it was gaining a reputation as the in thing to do for many college and university students.
A study done in the late 1960s shows how popular it was. At Vassar, a quantity of 20,000 methaqualone pills were consumed over a 3 week period. At Brooklyn College, 5,000 methaqualone pills were consumed daily. (reference 3)
There was no doubt that it made some individuals more social and helped them relax. In addition, some users say it increases their sexual desire. Because of this, people who might have been nervous, were more able to enjoy sex.
Because of the aphrodisiac and euphoric qualities, methaqualone was known as a love drug, especially in the 1970s. It was not uncommon, in English speaking countries, for people to say "let's do some ludes and get it on".
Luding out was a term for combining methaqualone with wine, in some areas the term was used for mixing methaqualone with any form of alcohol. It became more and more popular with students in the 1970s.
The positive effects of methaqualone are usually intensified when it is combined with small amounts of alcohol. It can result in a relaxed form of increased energy that feels like the pressure on the body is being reduced, or the user is floating.
When mixed with larger quantities of alcohol the result can be debilitating and often makes the user sleep, sometimes for prolonged periods. When taken to excess, the mixture can be fatal.
Deaths and injuries to recreational and medical consumers of the drug increased as it became more popular. These events got to the point where various governments restricted access to, or completely outlawed, methaqualone.
After becoming harder to obtain in many countries during the 1980s, the worldwide use of methaqualone slowly declined over time. It is occasionally produced in illicit labs, but in relatively small quantities.
In the US, the DEA seized 57,173 kilograms of illicit methaqualone in 1981, enough to produce about 200 million tablets. By 1983 the amount of illegal methaqualone seized was down to 1000 kilograms. (reference 4)
Most of what is being sold on the streets today is not pure methaqualone. The majority of it contains little to no methaqualone at all. So it's best to stay away from, unless you are sure of what you're getting.
A lot of what gets sold as Quaalude is really valium, rohypnol, another benzodiazepine or barbiturates. They all affect a neurotransmitter called GABA, which results in effects that are somewhat similar to each other.
As of 2017, the only area where real methaqualone is popular is South Africa. If you have access to the real thing and want to use it recreationally, restrict use to a few times a year. Tolerance builds quickly and it loses its magic powers if taken more often.
Street names for methaqualone include:
Down And Dirtys
The Love Drug
Afloqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1970s. It has sedative and muscle relaxant properties but can cause skin problems.
Cloroqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1980s. It has sedative properties and can suppress coughing. In France it was sold as cough medicine but taken off the market because of potential for abuse.
Diproqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1950s. It is the sole methaqualone analog that is still in widespread use by the pharmaceutical industry, mainly to treat inflammatory pain.
Etaqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1960s. It has sedative and muscle relaxant properties but is less potent than methaqualone, and tolerance builds very quickly.
Febrifugine: An alkaloid that occurs in the plant species Dichroa febrifuga as well as plants from the genus Hydrangea.
Halofuginone: Synthesized from febrifugine and utilized by veterinarians to treat coccidiosis. Is also being studied as a treatment for scleroderma, a group of autoimmune diseases.
Idelalisib: A drug marketed under the brand name Zydelig. It is used to treat tumors that affect blood, bone marrow, lymph, lymphatic system.
Ketanserin: A drug marketed under the brand name Sufrexal. It is used to treat high blood pressure.
Mebroqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1960s.
Mecloqualone: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1960s. It was marketed in Europe as a treatment for insomnia.
Methaqualone: A drug synthesized in the 1950s.
MethylMethaqualone: An analog of methaqualone that has a high potential for causing convulsions.
Metolazone: A drug primarily utilized to treat fluid retention associated with congestive heart failure. Has been sold under brand names that include Diulo, Mykrox, Zaroxolyn, Zytanix.
NitroMethaqualone: An analog of methaqualone that is roughly 10 times more potent.
Proquazone: A drug marketed to reduce pain, decrease fever, decrease inflammation.
Quinethazone: A drug that is employed as a diuretic to treat high blood pressure.
Raltitrexed: A drug utilized in cancer chemotherapy.
RVX 208: A drug that is being studied as a treatment for atherosclerosis and associated cardiovascular disease.
SL-164: An analog of methaqualone synthesized in the 1960s. Similar properties to methaqualone, but it was never marketed for medical applications.
Good book about the history, sociology, legal, medical aspects of most illegal, and some legal, drugs. Contains 6 pages of information about methaqualone. 480 pages, published 2003, size 7.5 x 9.1 inches.
Methaqualone: The Quest for Oblivion
Part of a series of books called The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs. This is the methaqualone entry in the series. 120 pages, published 1988, size 6.4 x 9.2 inches.
Methaqualone: The Quest for Oblivion
Quaaludes (Drugs: the Straight Facts)
Small book about the history, use, effects of methaqualone. An uncommon book because it is one of the few relatively recent volumes that are exclusively about methaqualone. 96 pages, published 2008, size 6.2 x 9.2 inches.
Quaaludes (Drugs: the Straight Facts)