What are Quaaludes?
Generic Name: methaqualone
Common Brand Names: Quaalude, Sopor
Other Formal Names: Cateudil, Dormutil, Hyminal, Isonox, Melsed, Melsedin, Mequelone, Mequin, Methadorm, Mozambin, Optimil, Parest, Renoval, Somnafac, Toquilone Compositum, Triador, Tuazole.
Informal Names: Bandits, Beiruts, Blou Bulle, Disco Biscuits, Ewings, Flamingos, Flowers, Genuines, Lemmon 714, Lemons, Lennons, Lovers, Ludes, Mandies, Qua, Quaaludes, Quack, Quad, Randy Mandies, 714, Soaper, Sopes, Sporos, Vitamin Q, Wagon Wheels
Quaaludes (methaqualone) are a synthetic, barbiturate-like, central nervous system depressant. Methaqualone is an anxiolytic and a sedative-hypnotic drug. Quaaludes were introduced as a safe barbiturate substitute, but they later showed that the possibility of addiction and withdrawal symptoms were similar to those of barbiturates.
History of Quaaludes
Quaaludes were first synthesized in India in 1950’s. It was introduced into America in the 1960’s and by the late 1960’s it became a popular recreational drug. The abuse potential of Quaaludes soon became apparent and in 1973 methaqualone was placed in Schedule II, making it difficult to prescribe and illegal to possess without a prescription. In 1984 it was moved to Federal Schedule I, so Quaaludes are no longer legally available in the United States.
Quaaludes that are sold for recreational use now are synthesized in illegal laboratories. Illegally produced Quaaludes can contain other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines.
In the 1960s a methaqualone and diphenhydramine combination pill called Mandrax was sold as a sedative. Current Mandrax pills, made illegally, may also contain benzodiazepines, barbiturates, ephedrine, etc. Mandrax is still widely abused in South Africa.
Uses of Quaaludes
In prescribed doses, Quaaludes promotes relaxation, sleepiness and sometimes a feeling of euphoria. It causes a drop in blood pressure and slows the pulse rate. These properties are the reason why it was initially thought to be a useful sedative and anxiolytic.
In 1972, Quaaludes were one of the most prescribed sedatives in United States.
It became a recreational drug due to its euphoric effect. Quaaludes were a popular drug of abuse during much of the 1970s, even though both the United States and Britain tightened control around their use and dispensing. “Luding out” where Quaaludes were taken with wine, became a popular college pastime.
When it was a legal medicine, methaqualone was available in tablet and capsule form and came in different strengths.
Oral Quaaludes dosages was 75-150mg for light sedation. A common prescribed dose was 300mg. Up to 600mg was used for strong sedation. Tolerance develops rapidly and some users may take up to 2000mg daily to achieve the same effects.
Onset of action is approximately 30 minutes after taking Quaaludes and duration of action is between 5 to 8 hours.
Overdose of Quaaludes can lead to seizures, coma or death.
Taking doses of over 300mg can be dangerous for first time users. Depending on the state of the user’s tolerance, doses of about 8,000mg per day can be fatal and others on even higher doses (of up to 20,000mg) may survive.
Death can result at much lower doses if Quaaludes are taken with alcohol, which is also a central nervous system depressant.
Quaaludes use during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Quaaludes are not recommended during pregnancy as the effects on human fetal development are not clear.
There is no data available about the effects of Quaaludes in breastfeeding.
Quaaludes should not be taken with alcohol or with other central nervous system depressants. This increases the depressant effects and depending on the doses taken it can be fatal.
Do not drive or operate machinery while taking Quaaludes.
Quaaludes Side Effects
Common side effects of Quaaludes include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fatigue, itching, rashes, sweating, dry mouth, tingling sensation in arms and legs, seizures and its depressant effects include reduced heart rate and respiration.
Quaaludes can also cause erectile dysfunction and difficulty achieving orgasms. At high doses it can cause mental confusion and loss of muscle control (ataxia).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.
Quaaludes Abuse and Dependence
Abuse of Quaaludes creates a barbiturate-type dependence. It is highly addictive and frequent users build a tolerance to it. Quaaludes can cause withdrawal symptoms similar to barbiturates, including restlessness, irritability, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headache, insomnia, tremors, mental confusion, seizures, etc.
When it was used legally, it was found that Quaaludes users were affected negatively or dying more because of the accidents they were in, due to poor decisions made while under its influence. Driving skills of Quaalude users are impaired and can cause fatal accidents.
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The aim of taking medication is to improve your quality of life. All painkillers have potential side effects, so you need to weigh up the advantages of taking them against the disadvantages.
Paracetamol is used to treat headaches and most non-nerve pains.
Two 500mg tablets of paracetamol up to 4 times a day is a safe dose for adults (never take more than 8 tablets in a 24-hour period).
Overdosing on paracetamol can cause serious side effects, however, so do not be tempted to increase the dose if your pain is severe.
If the pain lasts for more than 3 days, see your GP.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen, seem to work better when there’s clear evidence of an inflammatory cause, such as arthritis or an injury.
They should not be used for long periods unless you have discussed it with your doctor.
If you take them for long periods, there’s an increased risk of stomach upset, including bleeding, and kidney and heart problems.
Do not take more than the recommended dose, as this will increase the risk of serious side effects.
Pregnant women should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends and prescribes it. Paracetamol is the recommended alternative in pregnancy.
Aspirin is another type of NSAID.
It produces the same kind of side effects as other NSAIDs, but is not as effective as a painkiller, which means it’s not usually prescribed for pain.
Never give aspirin to a child younger than 16 unless their doctor prescribes it.
There’s a possible link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome in children.
Codeine does not work very well on its own. It works better when combined with paracetamol in a single pill.
You can buy co-codamol (paracetamol and low-dose codeine) over the counter. Higher-dose codeine has to be prescribed.
It’s not recommended to take codeine or other medium-strength prescribed painkillers on a long-term basis as this could lead to you becoming dependent on them. This could then make it difficult for you to stop taking them.
If you’re worried that you may have become dependent on painkillers, contact your GP or another healthcare professional for advice.
Effervescent painkillers are high in salt, containing up to 1g per tablet.
Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of health problems like heart disease and stroke.
You may want to consider switching to a non-effervescent painkiller, especially if you have been advised to watch or reduce your salt intake.
Amitriptyline and gabapentin
Each of these medicines can also be used to treat pain caused by nerve sensitivity or nerve damage, such as shingles, diabetes, nerve pain and sciatica.
You do not have to have depression or epilepsy for these tablets to help your nerve pain.
Amitriptyline and gabapentin both have to be prescribed by a GP.
Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness.
Morphine and morphine-like drugs (such as oxycodone, fentanyl and buprenorphine) are the strongest painkillers there are.
Depending on your individual circumstances, these types of painkiller may be prescribed as a patch, an injection, or sometimes in a pump you control yourself.
But they all work in similar ways and should only be used for severe pain.
They’ll only be prescribed after consultation with a doctor or a pain specialist. The dose and your response will be closely monitored.
These drugs should only be used as part of a long-term plan to manage your pain.