Metacualona (Quaalude): history, effects and uses
Methaqualone, which is commonly referred to as "Quaalude", one of its commercial names, is a sedative that was very popular as a recreational drug in the 1960s and 1970s. References to this drug can be found in films like "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Scarface", as well as songs by David Bowie or Frank Zappa.
In this article we will talk about the pharmacological properties, history, effects and uses of methaqualone . Although it has been replaced by other less addictive anxiolytics and is currently not legally manufactured, this drug played a striking role in the development of pharmacological therapy that is worth analyzing.
- Related article: "Types of drugs: know their characteristics and effects"
What is methaqualone?
Methaqualone is a drug with depressant effects on the nervous system which is classified in the category of hypnotic and sedative drugs, as well as anxiolytics. It is part of the pharmacological class of quinazonlinones.
Anxiolytic and sedative psychotropic drugs are used to treat symptoms such as anxiety or insomnia, and some of them have effects that make them susceptible to physical and psychological addictions. The most widely used today are benzodiazepines, although azapirones are gaining popularity, especially buspirone.
The most well-known commercial name of the methaqualone is "Quaalude" , an abbreviation of the words "quiet interlude", which can be translated as "quiet interlude". Other nomenclatures that refer to this drug include "Mandrax", "Sopor", "Malsed" or "Renoval", although these products are no longer legally manufactured in most countries.
What was it used for?
From a medical perspective, methaqualone was used mainly to treat physical and psychological symptoms of physiological hyperactivation, such as anxiety and tension. In particular It used to prescribe methaqualone to people with insomnia problems and also as a muscle relaxant.
However, the fact that methaqualone continues to be known today is because it was very popular as a recreational drug in nightclubs in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. In this sense the consumption of Quaalude was associated with the hippie and glam rock cultures .
On the other hand, methaqualone is also one of the sedatives that have acquired a bad reputation due to its use as "rapist drugs". The case of the comedian Bill Cosby is especially known, who during his testimony in a rape trial claimed that he had used Quaalude to abuse many young women.
History of this drug
Methaqualone was synthesized for the first time in India in the 1950s to be used as an anti-malarial drug. It came to the United Kingdom and the United States in the 60s ; It was in this place where its use was popularized not only as anxiolytic, but also as a recreational drug. It was in the United States where the name "Quaalude" arose.
Due to the obvious addictive potential of this substance and the frequency of its use for purposes other than doctors, from the 70s the regulation around methaqualone began to harden progressively. Likewise other more effective and safe sedative drugs appeared , such as benzodiazepines and azapirones.
At present it is difficult to obtain methaqualone in most countries of the world, since it has been outlawed. Some relevant exceptions include South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola and Zambia, since the use and abuse of methaqualone (often marketed as Mandrax) are very common in these regions of Africa.
In other places, although there are products on the black market containing this drug, in many cases it is mixed with barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opiates (particularly codeine) and other substances with depressant effects in the central nervous system.
It's known that in Latin American countries like Mexico, Colombia and Peru there are illegal laboratories that make methaqualone; the same happens in the United States, in Canada, in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Effects and adverse reactions
Methaqualone potentiates the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which explains its physiological effects, mainly the reduction of blood and respiratory frequencies, which in turn leads to an intense sensation of mental, as well as physical, relaxation.
Although it was introduced into the market as a substitute for barbiturates with a lower risk of side effects and addiction, it soon became evident that methaqualone not only It was very addictive and generated a high risk of dependence , but as a result the interruption of regular consumption also caused withdrawal symptoms.
Overdose of methaqualone causes excessive depression of the activity of the nervous, respiratory and circulatory systems. This translates into signs like muscle hypertonia, seizures, nausea and vomiting, delirium (acute confusional syndrome) and even coma and death.
- You may be interested: "Delirium tremens: a severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome"