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What Is Methaqualone?: The Cosby Drug

What Is Methaqualone? | The Cosby Drug | Just Believe Detox

In This Article

Methaqualone (Sopors, Mandrax, Quaaludes) is a synthetic drug that depresses the CNS (central nervous system). Like all barbiturates, it is also known as a sedative-hypnotic, which induces sleep in those who ingest it. Although it can effectively treat persons suffering from insomnia or hyperactivity, methaqualone is no longer prescribed by health providers due to its illegal status.

Methaqualone consists of various chemicals intended to induce effects similar to those of barbiturates, including anthranilic acid. It presents as a white crystalline powder that can be processed into tablets and capsules.

For various reasons, the drug has also been abused. Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, now serving time in prison, did acknowledge giving quaaludes to some women with whom he had sex but stated that the drug’s ingestion was consensual. Given court testimony and anecdotal reports, this claim has come under scrutiny, however.

Illicit Methaqualone

What little that is left of the methaqualone market is entirely associated with the black market. When obtained in this way, the drug often includes a variety of contaminants, including heroin. Also, methaqualone can vary in potency and purity from one dose to the next. These factors make the drug more dangerous than even those once sold by pharmacies.

Methaqualone: The Legal and the Illicit

As noted, historically, methaqualone has been used both by prescription and illicitly. In the 1960s, it was commonly prescribed by doctors and stress clinics at the peak of its popularity. However, the drug was deemed illegal by the Drug Enforcement Administration in the 1980s, so illicit use, when it occurs, is the only way in which this drug is currently used.

Medical Applications

When prescribed, methaqualone was primarily used as a tranquilizer. Before it was banned, doctors also prescribed it to patients suffering from paranoia, high blood pressure, and what was referred to as a “nervous breakdown.” It was also administered to individuals who suffered from anxiety attacks and sleep disturbances. Sought-after effects include feelings of relaxation, drowsiness, and sometimes euphoria. As an effective sedative and anti-anxiety agent, it was also commonly used as anesthesia before surgery.

Recreational Use

In the late 1970s, methaqualone was frequently abused by teenagers and young adults in the party scene. It is often referred to as a “disco biscuit” due to its euphoric effects. In Manhattan, there were many so-called juice bars that, in actuality, catered to people who wanted to abuse methaqualone for whatever reason, but often to enhance sex or the club/party experience.

Of note, people use only two methods to ingest methaqualone—orally or by smoking.

Methaqualone Effects

The effects of Methaqualone can be good or bad, depending on how the user interprets them. When used therapeutically, people who used to consume it according to a doctor’s prescription could experience relief from anxiety, insomnia, and panic. However, those who used the drug for an extended period would often develop several issues, including drug dependence and addiction.

Short term effects of methaqualone include intense feelings of well-being, drowsiness, reduced heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, in addition to increased sexual arousal. However, long-term effects may include both physical and psycho-emotional problems.

Side Effects

The following are possible side effects of abusing Methaqualone:

  • Chills
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Twitching
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech

What Is Methaqualone? | The Cosby Drug | Just Believe Detox

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms manifest when an individual dependent on a drug attempts to quit abruptly or “cold turkey.” In essence, these effects are the brain and body’s reaction to the physical need for a substance. A person who suddenly quit taking methaqualone may exhibit withdrawal symptoms within 1-3 days, and these may last for several more. If left untreated, this condition has the potential to be lethal.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with methaqualone dependence may include the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Mild tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • High fever
  • Seizures


Signs and symptoms of a methaqualone overdose may include the following:

  • Impaired cognition
  • Reduced response to stimuli
  • Impaired coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Stupor
  • Changes in pupil size
  • Vision disturbances
  • Excessive salivating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Emotional instability
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Slowed breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Treatment Options

Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer integrated rehab programs in partial hospitalization and residential formats. We provide a variety of therapeutic services and activities clinically-proven to be beneficial for the recovery process.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Detox Center at (877) 497-6180. Our specialists can assess your individual needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

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