Methaqualone “Quaaludes”

Methaqualone, or brand name Quaalude, is a central nervous system depressant that acts as a sedative and hypnotic.  Hypnotics are drugs that induce sleep.  Quaaludes or methaqualone is a DEA Schedule I controlled substance.  Basically, substances in the DEA Schedule I have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.  [1]

Methaqualone is a drug, hypnotic agent used for insomnia and muscle relaxants but was taken off of the market, in the U.S., in 1983 due to its high risk of abuse.  [2]  Quaaludes were the leading brand, with the active ingredient being methaqualone.

There were plenty of different sleeping pills in the 1970s, but quaaludes had the highest abuse rate.  This unpatented drug has been illegal for the past 30 years because it taught authorities and the medical industry a lot.  In fact, you can pretty much thank quaaludes for the restrictions on today’s addictive prescription drugs.

While there was an abundance of sleeping pills people had access to, quaaludes reigned supreme.  Then, just as quickly, it became illegal, and pretty quickly, out-of-date.

The DEA Intervention of Quaaludes in the U.S.

Basically, the original liberal disbursement of quaaludes is what made it to become illegal.  Too many people had become dependent on it.  It was so dangerous but so easy to obtain because the medical system was making money from it.  The DEA put the epidemic to an end, who believed that quaaludes were causing more harm than good.

Gene Haislip, the former head of the Chemical Control Division of the DEA, once quoted, “we beat em.”  The problem was eliminated because the DEA worked with governments and manufacturers around the world to stop reproduction.

However, the meth addiction epidemic in the U.S. eluded Haislip sadly.  While the DEA tried comparable means to stop meth, it didn’t have the same positive result.

 Some Other Facts on the Problem Methaqualone Caused in the U.S.:

  • First-time users were in danger of overdose.  The prescriptions were 300 mg doses.  Drug effects differed based on a person’s tolerance.  Some might take 20,000 mg per day. Then, others might die from taking 8,000 mg in a day.
  • The variance is what caused it to be so dangerous.  Death could result when a lower dose was taken while also drinking alcohol.
  • Many people became addicted.  Above all, it became a societal problem in the U.S. because the drug was being linked to so many overdoses, injuries, and accidents.

Human Health Effects

Generally, drug-dependent individuals have commonly abused quaaludes. And, long-term use of more notable than usual therapeutic doses may result in psychic and physical dependence.  [3]

Side Effects of Treatment with Methaqualone or its Hydrochloride in Therapeutic Doses include:

  • Headache
  • Hangover
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal Discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Transient Paraesthesia:  Paresthesia that comes and goes, and is usually caused by pressure on a nerve; it disappears gradually as the pressure is relieved.
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sweating
  • Skin reactions have also been reported
  • Aplastic Anemia:  It is a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells.

The syndrome of methaqualone overdose differs remarkably from that of other sedative-hypnotic ingestion.  Moreover, toxicity is manifested by hypertonicity, exhibited in increased deep tendon reflexes and muscular hypertonicity, myoclonus; generalized muscle twitching, shivering, and occasionally seizures. [4]

Quaaludes Overdose Symptoms

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Slurred Speech
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to Light
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Vomiting
  • Renal Failure
  • Coma
  • Death

A lethal dose would be considered 30 times what was in one quaalude tablet.  However, when combining this drug with alcohol, that dose becomes much smaller, with only two grams likely causing a coma. 

Moreover, the drug was linked to overdoses, suicide attempts, injuries, and car accidents during its peak.

Quaaludes abuse can be disturbing to your body as you harm standard mechanisms, organs, and systems.

Physical Effects May Include:

  • Cardiovascular and Motor Dysfunction
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Photophobia:   An extreme sensitivity to light
  • Paresthesias:  Numbness of the fingers and toes
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Slowed Speech

Psychological Effects 

The abuse can lead to harmful psychological effects such as:

Social Effects

The following are ways that addiction can negatively interfere with your social life:

  • Decreased social interactions
  • Increased isolation and segregation from loved ones
  • Withdrawal from social activities and events

Quaaludes Addiction Treatment

The first part of a quaalude overdose treatment is detoxification, in which clients overcome their physical dependence on quaaludes.  Quaaludes withdrawal symptoms usually begin to present themselves within 12 to 24 hours after the patient stops taking the drugs.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms typically climaxes between one and three days after the last use of quaaludes.  Therefore, the first three days are the most critical for the client’s successful detoxification.  The complete detoxification for quaalude addiction typically requires seven to 10 days.

Quaaludes Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

Detoxifying Your Body From Quaaludes

Detoxification should typically be performed under medical supervision to lessen the withdrawal symptoms and ensure the client’s safe recovery. 

Clients undergoing quaalude detoxification usually receive monitoring of their vital signs round the clock.  Detoxification usually occurs in a quaalude treatment facility because the withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe.  Additionally, this facility is typically a hospital or a drug rehabilitation center.

Inpatient treatment for quaalude overdose symptoms generally follows the detoxification phase with psychological therapy to recognize any underlying causes of the addictive behavior.  This often includes individual counseling in which the client works privately with a counselor.  In addition, this form of counseling is best on an inpatient basis in which clients have daily access to the counselors if needed.

Furthermore, behavioral therapy is a method of replacing addictive behavior with healthier responses to stressful circumstances.  This form of therapy combines practice with positive support to help the client achieve lasting recovery.  In addition, cognitive therapy analyzes the thoughts and feelings that drive the addictive behavior, for instance.

Lifelong Sobriety

Recovering from a substance use disorder does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome.  Above all, with supervision from an inpatient drug rehab, like We Level Up New Jersey, you will be on the way to lifelong sobriety in no time.  Given that, don’t hold advancing in your sobriety. 

Instead, reach out today. Because a dedicated and compassionate admissions specialist will answer any questions and handle any concerns you may have, you may begin in an inpatient drug rehab eagerly.

For more information on quaaludes overdose symptoms or to start getting into treatment, contact us today here at We Level Up New Jersey.


[1] Methaqualone – Drug Enforcement Administration 
[2-3] METHAQUALONE – National Center for Biotechnology Information 
[4] Haddad, L.M., Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1990., p. 727