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Methaqualone (Quaalude) is a sedative/hypnotic central nervous system depressant similar to barbiturates. It is most often taken orally in tablet and produces a range of effects including light sedation, euphoria and sleep at lower doses to unconsciousness and sometimes seizures at high doses.
Some users may take 75 mg doses throughout the day, while others may take 300 mg once a day. A common dose for recreational use is reported to be 300 mg. However tolerance develops quickly and some users may take up to 1,000 mg - 2,000 mg per day to achieve the same effects. Some users have died from taking as little as 8,000 mg (per day), while others have taken as much as 22,000 mg and survived.
Price #
Pills mostly range from $5-$7 per 300 mg pill in 2003 in the United States.
Methaqualone is illegal to possess without a license in the United States (Schedule I). Although it was once a widely prescribed medication, the DEA has listed it in the most highly scheduled category, which includes drugs with no recognized medical use, due to its potential for addiction and abuse.
Methaqualone, 2-methyl-3-(2-methylphenyl)-4(3H)-quinazolinone is one of the most powerful sedative/hypnotic compounds ever produced. It is structurally and functionally related to glutethimide, methyprylon, and the barbiturates.
Pharmacology #
Pharmacology Summary Needed.
Production #
Much of the methaqualone that is used recreationally in the U.S. and other countries is synthesized in illegal labs. Blackmarket methaqualone is often called 'bootleg', after the underground process of alcohol production during US Prohibition in the early 20th Century. Bootleg methaqualone has been known to come from Colombia, where it is smuggled into the U.S. through Florida. Illegally synthesized methaqualone frequently contains adulterants, including other CNS depressants such as diazepam (Valium). Although methaqualone cannot be legally manufactured in the U.S. outside of research due to its Schedule I status, it is produced in other parts of the world as a legitimate pharmaceutical. It is available by prescription in Canada.<
Methaqualone was first synthesized in India by a man named M.I. Gujral as an anti-malaria drug. In 1956/1965 (sources differ), it was introduced as a "non-addicting" hypnotic medication used to treat insomnia and anxiety. Unfortunately, it was soon found to cause just as much or even more drug dependence as the CNS depressants it was intended to replace. By 1968, methaqualone was reportedly the most widely prescribed sedative in the UK. By 1972 it was one of the most popular recreational psychoactive drugs in both the US and Britain. Methaqualone was placed on Schedule II in 1973, and finally on Schedule I in June of 1984, due to the problems that arose from its use.
Terminology / Slang #
Brand Names:
Quaalude, Sopor, Cateudil, Isonox, Motolon, Normi-Nox, Optimil, Parest, Revonal, Somnafac, Sovinal.
The Substance:
Methaqualone; Ludes; 714's; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Sopes; Mandrakes; Quacks.
The Experience:
Methaqualone is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. It is distributed in the body fat, liver, and brain tissue through plasma. Low doses (75-300 mg) of methaqualone taken orally tend to produce light sedation and sleepiness. Higher doses (300 mg+) can produce a more pronounced sedation and euphoria. Recreational users often resist the drug's soporific effects (i.e. force themselves to stay awake) in order to achieve a dissociative high. Reported positive effects include: a sense of well being, loss of inhibition, increased pain threshold, loss of muscle coordination, tingling or numbness throughout the body, relaxation, calmness, increased self confidence, and sexual arousal. Fairly common unwanted side effects include hangover, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, sweating, rapid heart beat, hives, and loss of apetite.
Onset #
Orally, methaqualone's effects begin around 20-45 minutes after ingestion.
Duration #
Methaqualone's effects last 4-8 hours. Higher doses tend to last longer than lower doses.
Visual Effects #
Visuals Summary Needed.
In addition to the negative effects listed above, methaqualone can produce dizziness, anxiety, and restlessness (at lower doses), weakness, paranoia, panic, decreased erectile function in men, and somtimes difficulty achieving orgasm in both sexes. Especially at high doses, it can also cause extreme mental confusion and pronounced ataxia (loss of muscle contol). An overdose of methaqualone may lead to seizures, coma, or death.

Perhaps methaqualone's most problematic attribute is the rapid creation of tolerance in users and its cross tolerance with other sedative/hypnotic drugs. Cross tolerance means that if methaqualone is taken regularly, subsequent doses of other sedatives must be much larger in order to achieve their normal effect. Methaqualone users who wish to use the substance multiple days in a row find themselves using increasingly large amounts. Several days to a week between doses are required to avoid tolerance and cross tolerance. Tolerance for the drug's euphoric effects develops more rapidly than tolerance to its respiratory depressant effects. This increases the risk of dangerous overdose as users increase their dose in order to feel as high as they did during earlier experiences.
Contraindications #
  • Do not operate heavy machinery. Do Not Drive.
  • Combination with other depressants can lead to dangerous and sometimes fatal reactions, mostly related to respiratory and other CNS suppression.
Addiction Potential #
As with many other sedative hypnotics, regular use of methaqualone can lead to physical addiction and psychological dependence. Daily use of even moderate doses can produce addiction in just a couple of weeks. Psychological and physical dependence are very common with heavy methaqualone use (doses over 600 mg per day). Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, irritability, antisocial behavior, insomnia, headache, mild tremors, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, muscle twitches, and in severe cases: mental confusion, delirium, nightmares, hallucinations, high fever, epileptic-like seizures that can lead to death, and severe cravings for the drug for long periods after withdrawal.
Long Term Health Problems #
Long Term Health Problems Summary Needed.
Risk of Death #
Risk of Death Summary Needed.
Erowid Basics pages are summaries of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but the field is complex and constantly changing. Information should always be verified through multiple sources.