Your Guide To Understanding Methaqualone & Methaqualone Drug Testing
What is Methaqualone?
Methaqualone is a man-made drug that generally depresses the central nervous system. Like barbiturates, it is also known as a sedative-hypnotic drug, which induces sleep to anyone that uses it. Although it effectively treats patients who are suffering from insomnia and hyperactivity, Methaqualone is rarely prescribed by doctors. For some varying reasons, some people also abuse the drug, which may draw a positive result using the drug test kits.
Methaqualone was sold in North American pharmacies under different brand names, such as Sopors, Mandrax, and Lude or Quaaludes. In South Africa, people used to call it as “smarties” or “geluk-tablette,” which means happy tablet.
Components of Methaqualone
Methaqualone is a synthetic drug. It is made in the laboratories out of several chemicals to imitate the effects of barbiturates. Its key ingredients include anthranilic acid, N-acetyl-anthranilic acid, and N-acetyl-o-toluidine.
Drugs made in the laboratories are sold in pharmacies and are bought by patients with doctor’s prescription. Methaqualone pills that are sold in markets excluding pharmacies are made by illegal drug makers. They are made from a variety of “filler” substances, which make them more dangerous than the original one. To make bogus Methaqualone pills, illegal drug makers add talcum powder and heroin to the drug, then sell it at a lower price to entice drug addicts. Since the substance is illegal, pushers need not to inspect and measure the purity of their bogus pills.
Methaqualone looks like white crystalline powder that is being processed into capsules and tablets. Although the brand name Quaalude is no longer manufactured today, it is continuously smuggled in the black market.
History of Methaqualone
Methaqualone was originally synthesized in India in 1951 by Kishore Kacker and Syed Hussain Zaheer. Sometime in 1965, it was introduced in the market as an alternative for barbiturates and became Britain’s most prescribed non-addictive pill. It was also sold in many pharmacies in Europe and Japan. Scientists believed that the drug was not addictive and because of its effectiveness, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the same year.
It took many years to realize the side effects of Methaqualone. As time went by, patients who were in Methaqualone treatment started to become dependent to the drug. In the following years, Methaqualone addiction became an issue. When the government discovered that the drug was habit-forming, it was eventually reclassified under Schedule I controlled substance in 1984 and was listed under the UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances in 1988. Until today, the manufacture, possession, sale, distribution, and misuse of Methaqualone remains prohibited and punishable by law.
Types of Methaqualone
There are two types of Methaqualone drugs, the ones sold in pharmacies and the ones sold in the black market. The second type is also known as Methaqualone adulterants. They are illicit drugs that are made by diluting or adding some other substance to the Methaqualone through the use of cutting agents. Although the production and sale of Methaqualone has been completely banned even in pharmacies, the distribution of Methaqualone adulterants remains high among drug addicts.
The two most common Methaqualone pills that were sold in pharmacies during the 1960s are Mandrax and Quaalude. The most popular Methaqualone adulterant is known as “Bootleg.”
Mandrax – Roussel Laboratories made the first ever Mandrax in 1965 through the combination of antihistamine and Methaqualone. It has become the sixth-bestselling sedative in the USA and a popular recreational under the name “mandrake” or mandrix.” Although the production and sale of Mandrax was completely banned in the 1980s, it was continuously sold in South Africa until 2005. Some African countries, which housed labs producing Mandrax, include Kenya, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia. The unmonitored export of ingredients that are used to make the drug from southern Asia also led to the production of various bogus Methaqualone pills in the black market.
Quaalude – This drug is the most addictive brand of Methaqualone, which became popular in the late 1960s and 1970s. It was legally sold in pharmacies around the US and became one of the favorite recreational drugs among college students. They used to call the habit of abusing Quaalude “luding out.” Quaalude is also popular during discos and sexual activity as it lowers inhibition and increases euphoria. However, individuals who awaken from Quaalude-induced sleep typically have trouble remembering the events that happened before taking the drug.
Bootleg – This is a counterfeit Methaqualone made by chemist after the production and sale of Methaqualone was completely banned in all pharmacies in the mid 1980s. This type of drug does not contain any Methaqualone at all but contains poisonous doses of antihistamines, analgesics, anesthetics, barbiturates, diuretics, decongestants, sugar, and other fillers. Taking bootleg may not cause any reaction at all. Depending on the type of ingredients used, an individual can also experience drowsiness or euphoria. The most dangerous side effect of bootleg is death.
Different Uses of Methaqualone
Methaqualone is used in two different ways. In the 1960s, when the drug was at its peak of popularity, it was trusted and prescribed by doctors and stress clinics. However, after the drug has been completely banned from the country, the recreational use of the drug is all that remained.
Methaqualone was mainly used as tranquilizers. Doctors used to prescribe an adequate dose of Methaqualone to patients who were suffering from paranoia, hypertension, and nervous break-down. It was also given to people who had anxiety attacks and sleep problems. It typically causes relaxation, drowsiness, and sometimes a feeling of euphoria, which will allow an individual to relax and rest. As an effective sedative and anxiolytic, it was also used as anesthesia before a surgery.
In the late 1970s, Methaqualone was used by teenagers in night clubs. It was also called as a disco biscuit because of its euphoric effect, which made people happier and more energetic. In Manhattan, there were so-called “juice bars”, some sorts of disco bars that only catered to people who wanted to dance on Methaqualone. The drug was also used during sexual activities. College students used to call it as “love drug”, which could effectively increase libido and heightened sensitivity.
Routes of Administration
There are only two known ways of how abusers take Methaqualone. It can be taken orally or by means of smoking. Drug abusers usually take the drug in tablet form right after buying it from the different sources. It creates a variety of effects, such as light sedation, euphoria, and drowsiness.
In South Africa, people blend Methaqualone, particularly the Mandrax, with cannabis (marijuana) and tobacco. They used to crush the white tablet and mixed it with a pipe of marijuana, and named it as the “white pipe.” Since this was the cheapest type of drug available in the area, it became the preferred drug of the lower-income populations of the South African society.
Effects of Methaqualone
The effects of Methaqualone can be both good and bad. Back then, people who used to drink it according to doctors prescription experienced a relief from anxiety and nervous breakdown. They were able to feel calmness and a break-free from sleep problems. However, as people continued to use the drug, several issues of drug dependence suddenly aroused.
The short term effects of Methaqualone can range from euphoria, drowsiness, reduced heart rate and blood pressure, reduced respiration, increased sexual arousal, and numbness of the fingers and toes. However, the long term effects may include both physical and psychological damage. One study has also linked Methaqualone abuse to a condition called ataxia.
The following are the side effects of abusing Methaqualone.
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle spasms and frequent twitching
- Slurred speech
Withdrawal symptoms occur when a drug addict is forced to quit the drug. This is the body’s reaction to the physical need for the drug. A person who abruptly stops from taking Methaqualone may show withdrawal symptoms within one to three days, and may last for several days. When they remain untreated, they could lead to a person’s death.
The following are withdrawal symptoms of abruptly refraining from Methaqualone use.
- Mild tremors
- Muscle twitching
- High fever
Available Treatment Options
Drug rehabilitation centers offer numerous treatment programs for drug addicts to quit their old habits in the safest ways. Depending on the substance used and the duration of abuse, drug addicts may be subject to different levels of care.
To treat drug addicts, they are basically placed in a rehabilitation center for a couple of months. Drug addicts will enroll into the right program with the help of drug counselors. The most common treatment among rehabilitation centers is the cognitive-behavioral treatment. The treatment does not directly force the addict to quit abusing drug. Instead, the individual is motivated to join helpful activities to divert his attention from addiction and correct whatever misbehaviors he may have.
Hospitals also offer detoxification method. Detox can be dangerous and must be supervised by doctors. An individual who undergoes detox may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, which is why doctors would induce alternative drug to ease the physical craving. Doing detox all alone is highly prohibited. Hence, to treat Methaqualone addiction, parents or relatives must first consult a drug counselor.
Methaqualone Drug Testing
The most effective drug testing method that is used to detect whether or not a person has recently abused Methaqualone is the urine drug testing. It uses a more practical test, which include a thin-layer chromatography for initial test and gas-liquid chromatography for the confirmatory test. According to study, Methaqualone is easily detectable in the urine up to 72 hours after taking the last dosage.
During the 2004 drug testing in South Africa, Methaqualone abuse has been linked to the rise of the country’s crime rate, particularly homicide. Among all the arrestees who were tested for drug abuse, 19.4% were found to have used Mandrax, 39.2% positive for cannabis, and 4.9% positive for cocaine. According to the research, the pharmacological effect of a person who is under the influence of a drug largely contributes to the commission of the offense by making addicts irritable and more progressive.
New Federal Cut-Off
To avoid a false positive result, the new federal cut-off level follows a mandate created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Every drug has different cut-off levels. For clinical panels, the initial drug screening and confirmatory test for Methaqualone is 300 ng/ml. For forensic and workplace panels, the new federal cut-off level for the initial test is 300 ng/ml and for the confirmatory test is 200 ng/ml. A person who reaches the minimum cut off-level will be considered as positive and may face further investigation and penalties.