What is methaqualone (quaaludes) and how is it used and abused

Methaqualone (Quaaludes) is a depressant that affects the central nervous system. Although completely unrelated, it is said that this drugs effects are similar to those of barbiturates. Although many people are not familiar with methaqualone (Quaaludes), it is a commonly abused drug in many areas in the world, especially in South Africa. Its effects are extremely potent, which causes heavy abuse and a fast addiction.

A Brief History of Methaqualone (Quaaludes)

This drug was introduced by United States pharmaceutical companies in the 1960’s. It was marketed as ‘non- addictive’ sleeping pills and was approved by the US government under the trade name Quaalude. In very little time, methaqualone (Quaaludes) was being heavily abused and causing people to develop anxiety, severe depression, and addiction. As a result, the drug was listed as being psychoactive and was banned in many countries by the mid 1970’s. Although illegal, it was not forgotten; methaqualone (Quaaludes) began to be sold on the black market. It should be noted, that some countries still produce methaqualone as a pharmaceutical medication.

Recognising Methaqualone (Quaaludes)

This drug typically comes in a tablet or capsule form and is usually taken orally. It is completely tasteless and odorless and is relatively cheap. However, in certain areas it is crushed and mixed with marijuana; then smoked. Some heavy abusers will liquefy it and inject it into their veins. Names that methaqualone was/is sold under include: Quaalude, Sopor, Cateudil, Isonox, Mandrax, Motolon, Normi-Nox, Optimil, Parest, Revonal, Somnafac, and Sovinal. On the streets, the drug may be referred to as: French Quaalude, ludes, furies, mandrakes, quas, quacks, quads, 714s, soaps, soapers, sopes, super Quaaludes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and super soper.


Methaqualone (Quaaludes) is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. The effects begin to take place 20-45 minutes after ingestion. The high can last between 4 and 8 hours, but will depend on how much the user took. Because the drug can cause sedation, the typical user will force them self to stay awake, once the drowsiness has subsided, the user will feel a dissociative high. Users claim the methaqualone (Quaaludes) causes a loss of inhibitions, a sense of wellbeing, and an all together euphoric and mellow high. However, there are fairly common unwanted side effects that methaqualone (Quaalude) users may have. These include: allured speech, motor dysfunction, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sweating, rapid heartbeat, hives, and dizziness, loss of appetite, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, memory loss, and weakness.

Tolerance, Abuse, and Addiction

A tolerance to methaqualone (Quaaludes) can develop very rapidly in users. There is also a possibility of a cross tolerance happening. Meaning, if a user is taking other sedatives, they will also build a tolerance to those sedatives as well. Within a few days of abuse, the user will notice their tolerance has significantly increased. A tolerance to methaqualone’s (Quaaludes) euphoric effects develops more rapidly than a tolerance to the respiratory depressant effects. This makes overdosing on the drug easier as abusers will begin to chase their high. Within as little as 2 weeks, an abuser can develop a physical addiction to methaqualone (Quaaludes). As with many other drugs, a user who is addicted to methaqualone (Quaaludes) will experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to barbiturates and include restlessness, irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, tremors, muscle spasms, confusion, delirium, hallucinations, high fevers, and potentially fatal seizures. The psychological addiction is extremely serious and can take months or even years to get over.


Many users of methaqualone (Quaaludes) have misjudged the potency of the little tablets and thus have overdosed. Overdosing on methaqualone (Quaaludes) can be fatal, especially when it is combined with other medication or alcohol. Some overdose symptoms include convulsions, muscle tension, hyper-reflexia, delirium, unconsciousness, vomiting, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, coma, and death. In any case, if one suspects a person of overdosing, medical help should be sought immediately.

If you or someone you know is suffering from any type of addiction,


Normally anyone with an addiction to methaqualone (Quaaludes) will need to go through a strict detox and then to a rehab for further treatment. With determination and effort, a methaqualone(Quaaludes) addiction can be cured.

About the Author

The Cabin Clinical Team

The Cabin Clinical Team

Our team boasts over 10 years of experience working with individuals struggling with addiction and mental health challenges. This extensive experience allows us to provide comprehensive assessments, develop personalized treatment plans, and deliver evidence-based interventions tailored to meet your unique needs.

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