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What is Mandrax?
Methaqualone is a sedative and a hypnotic very similar in its effects to barbiturates which are more common nervous system depressants. Mandrax recreational use reached its zenith during the 1960s and 1970s as a hypnotic, in the treatment of sleep and insomnia issues and used as a muscle relaxant or a general sedative. Methaqualone quickly caught on as a recreational drug, and was known as Quaalude’s, Ludes Buttons or Mandrax depending on the specific manufacturer.
Methaqualone was first synthesised in India quickly made its way Japanese and European markets as a “safe” substitute for barbiturates. By 1965 it became one of the most prescribed sedatives in the United Kingdom, where it was frequently sold under the names of Malsed, Malsedin, and Renoval. In 1965 a combination of methaqualone and antihistamines was sold as a sedative drug under the trademark Mandrax, by Roussel Laboratories (now known as the Sanofi-Aventis group). Almost at the same time, it began to be popular as a party drug (called mandrake or mandrix). In 1972 it became the 6th most sold sedative in the United States, where the drug was legal to obtain under the name of Quaalude. By that time, “luding out” was a popular pastime of college students. This has an effect similar to an alcohol intoxication without remembering the events that occurred.
Methaqualone is consumed widely in South Africa, where it is more commonly referred to as smarties or buttons. Methaqualone produced illegally is routinely seized by police throughout the world. South Africa is currently the largest abuser of Methaqualone in the world.
Research has shown that methaqualone had no increasing effect with increasing doses. It was also found that sudden withdrawal of methaqualone led to serious withdrawal symptoms (comparable to alcohol and barbiturate addiction). It was also observed that there was a need to continue the use and that there was an inability to discontinue out of ones own initiative. Methaqualone is regarded as a substance that is addictive.
The amount in which overdose becomes a problem depends on a number of factors such as previous use. Estimates vary from 4 to 40 tablets. In about 5% of cases, this leads to death, sometimes acute. Because methaqualone is rapidly absorbed into the blood and quickly distributed over the body tissues, the body acts as an enormous reservoir. Overdose is therefore difficult to treat. There is no specific antidote.
Among students in the United States, it was a popular way to relax in busy periods. This was often called “luding out”. Because methaqualone was often used in combination with alcohol, there was a high risk of “accidental” overdose.
Mandrax has more and stronger side effects than Dagga, such as:
- chronic emotional issues
- chronic depression
- dramatic weight loss
- constant headaches
- stomach cramps and spasms
- difficulty sleeping
- epileptic sizures
- aggressive behaviour
- psychosis and psychotic episodes
The muscle response and control of the body is severely hampered which causes Mandrax users to frequently to fall.
Signs of a Mandrax Use
- hands stained yellow
- bloodshot eyes
- gaunt appearance
- rotten teeth
- erratic sleeping behaviours
- appetite loss
- saliva secretion increases
- swollen stomach and abdomen
Evidence of Mandrax use includes:
- broken bottle necks used as a pipe
- homemade pipe filters
- stained tissues
- containers with spit in them