I saw Quaaludes in Wolf of Wall Street - What is it?

January 11, 2017
Solace Sabah

The word “Quaaludes”, which is a brand name for Methaqualone is a portmanteau for the phrase “quiet interlude”. It was named as such because it is a sedative and hypnotic medication that puts its victims out for the count; either voluntarily or otherwise. In popular culture, it was made famous by its use in the 2013 movie, “The Wolf of Wall street”. Besides that, it got much press when the comedian Bill Cosby, admitted in a 2005 lawsuit of having acquired it for the purpose of doping a young woman to have sex with him.

It goes by many street names such as: ludes, sopers, and soaps in the U.S.; whilst it is known by the names mandrakes and mandies in the U.K., Australia, and South Africa.  Quaaludes became infamous for recreational use by the hippies in the early 1970s, who would use it as part of their dancing lifestyle at glam rock clubs. There, it was known as disco biscuits.

Background to Quaalude Use

Methaqualone was first synthesized in India in 1951 by Indra Kishore Kacker and Syed Hussain Zaheer as an anti-malarial drug. By the 1960s, it was prescribed as a sedative to help with sleeping disorders. It was sold in the U.K. legally by the name Malsed, Malsedin, and Renoval by 1965. In 1972, it was sold in the U.S. with its current name, Quaalude. It was made illegal in the U.S. due to its addictive and criminal use by 1984. Since then, this drug has been manufactured in underground laboratories in Mexico, while still used in both India and South Africa. It has, however been officially banned in India.

Mechanism of abuse

Quaaludes is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. It targets mainly the GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) receptors in the brain. As this neuro-transmitter increases due to the intake of this drug, sedation, hypnosis, and relaxation envelop the user. Hence, it was prescribed in the 1960s to help insomniacs with their sleeping disorder. It peaks in the bloodstream within a couple of hours after intake, with a half life of up to 20 to 60 hours thereafter. Tolerance towards the drug is attainable after regular use and abuse, making it a highly addictive substance.

What happens upon Quaalude overdose?

Like all addictive substances, Quaalude overdose will present negative consequences for overconsumption. An overdose of the drug will portray the following symptoms:

  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Hypertonia (Damage to the central nervous system (CNS)/Spasticity)
  • Hyperreflexia (Overresponsive Reflexes)
  • Vomiting
  • Kidney failure
  • Coma
  • Death via cardiac and respiratory arrest.

A standard dose consists of 300 mg, while it is lethal to take this drug above 8000 mg and 2000 mg with alcohol.

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