|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
| 2-methyl-3-o-tolyl-4(3H)-quinazolinone; |
|Melt. point||113 °C (235 °F)|
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Methaqualone1 is a sedative drug which is similar in effect to barbiturates, a general CNS depressant. It was used in the 1960s and 1970s as an anxiolytic, for the treatment of insomnia, and as a sedative and muscle relaxant. It has also been used illegally as a recreational drug, particularly in the 1970s in North America. In the 2000s, it is widely used as a recreational drug in South Africa.
An overdose can cause delirium, convulsions, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, vomiting, renal insufficiency, coma, and death through cardiac or respiratory arrest. It resembles barbiturate poisoning but with increased motor difficulties and a lower incidence of cardiac or respiratory depression. Toxicity is treated with diazepam and sometimes an anticonvulsant.
Methaqualone was discovered by the Indian researcher M. L. Gujiral in 1955 during an anti-malaria research program. It was marketed as a sleeping pill during the 1960s under a number of tradenames including Renoval and Melsed and in combination with an antihistamine as Mandrax.
From 1965 it was sold on the United States market as Quaalude, Sopor and Parest; by 1972 it was the sixth most popular sedative in the US. The name Quaalude was apparently derived from the phrase "quiet interlude" with an added "aa" by the manufacturers in order to elicit a more positive public recognition, as was done with the drug Maalox. It was hoped that it was a "safer" drug than barbiturates to use for sedation; however, it was found to have similar problems of tolerance and dependence.
Up until the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu's regime in 1989, methaqualone (along with other sedatives) was used to pacify orphans in Romania's state-run orphanage system. Internationally, methaqualone is a Schedule I drug.
Illegal use as a recreational drug
Quaaludes became increasingly popular as a recreational drug during the 1960s, and during the disco club scene in the 1970s. The drug was more tightly regulated in Britain under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in the U.S. from 1973. With its addictive nature clear, it was withdrawn from many developed markets in the 1980s, being made a Schedule I drug in the US in 1984.
Smoking methaqualone, either alone or as an adulterant added to various legal and illegal smoking mixtures, gained popularity in the United States during the mid 1970s. When smoked, methaqualone gives the user an immediate trance-like euphoria that quickly wears off. Because the various binders and inert ingredients that were contained in the pill form were toxic when smoked, this practice was roundly decried by the medical community as a serious health risk. Smoking methaqualone pills leads to emphysema and other chronic lung disorders.
Commonly known as Mandrax, it is not taken orally but is crushed and mixed in a pipe (or the neck of a broken bottle) with marijuana. Mandrax has become a major problem and is one of the most commonly abused hard drugs in South Africa. The low price (R30.00 average) of methaqualone together with the ready availability of cheap, low-grade marijuana means it (in addition to crystal meth) is the preferred hard drug of the low-income section of South African society.
Since methaqualone is no longer legally produced, illicit manufacture either in India, or in South Africa itself or other African countries produces methaqualone for the South African market. 
- Down and dirtys
- Gorilla biscuits
- Leg Openers
- Lemmon 714
- Mad dogs
- Mandrax (commonly misspelled Mandrex)
- Mind peelers
- Turkey gizzards
- Vitamin Q
- Whore pills
- Orange AS
- "Randy Mandy"
In South Africa
- White pipe
- ↑ van Zyl EF. A survey of reported synthesis of Methaqualone and some positional and structural isomers. Forensic Science International (2001) 122: 142-149.
- Methaqualone (Quaalude) Synthesis by Rhodium. General information and description of Methaqualone's synthesis plus many references
- Quaaludes Again Shel Silverstein's satirical song
- The Meth Epidemic Frontline discusses quaaludes as part of the history of methamphetamine
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