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History of Quaaludes

history of quaaludes

Quaaludes, also known as methaqualone, were legal from 1961 to 1984.

They were reinvented and illegally sold in the 1980s, mostly between 1984 and 1988. Then they just seemed to disappear. What happened to quaaludes? One second, they were the most popular recreational drugs, and the next, they just went “poof.” Our addiction treatment center in Texas shares a brief history of quaaludes and why they seemed to suddenly disappear.


What Are Quaaludes?

Quaaludes (methaqualone) are synthetic, barbiturate-like central nervous system (CNS) depressants that became a popular recreational drug between the 1960s and 1980s. The active ingredient in quaaludes is a chemical called methaqualone, an anxiolytic that reduces anxiety and produces a state of drowsiness. Common street names for quaaludes include “Lemon Quaaludes” and “Lemmon 714” because they usually come in the form of tablets or pills imprinted with the same number. These drugs were initially introduced as a safe barbiturate substitute and sleep aid. However, as with many other CNS depressants, quaaludes were banned once their potential for addiction was realized.

As with other barbiturates, quaalude drugs can produce chemical imbalance and changes in the brain, resulting in dependence and addiction.

Other common quaaludes side effects include:

  • Euphoric sensation
  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Itching and rash
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Tingling sensation in the extremities
  • Seizures
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Respiratory depression

Quaaludes can also contribute to fertility, cause erectile dysfunction, and make orgasms difficult to achieve. When taken in high doses, this CNS depressant can also cause extreme mental confusion, loss of motor ability, loss of muscle control, and overdose. Long-term use of quaaludes usually results in addiction, a chronic brain disease that requires formal treatment for recovery. Our medically monitored detox at Banyan Treatment Centers Texas is a safe and effective way for individuals with drug addictions to complete the withdrawal phase of recovery and move forward into a formal rehab program. Attempting to quit drugs on your own can be dangerous, but utilizing our medical detox services can mitigate the risk of withdrawals and increase your likelihood of long-term sobriety.


What Happened to Quaaludes?

The history of quaaludes began in the 1950s when they were first synthesized in India. It wasn’t until the 1960s that they were introduced into the United States and became popular drugs for recreational use. The sedative and euphoric side effects these drugs produced in high doses made them popular drugs in clubs, raves, and music festivals. A quaalude drug’s ability to enhance a partier’s experience at discos or festivals was also the reason they were coined “disco biscuit.” However, it wasn't until 1973 that the abuse potential of quaaludes was discovered, and they were categorized as a Schedule II drug. In 1984, they began labeling quaaludes as a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Federal Schedule I, after which they were no longer legally available in the U.S

Today, quaaludes are illicit substances that are synthesized in foreign drug labs and sold for recreational use. These drugs often contain other depressants and substances of abuse like benzodiazepines and fentanyl. In the 1960s, a drug containing both methaqualone and diphenhydramine called Mandrax was also sold as a sedative. Mandrax pills remain illegal and usually contain other addictive drugs like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or ephedrine.

Although quaaludes are rare nowadays, the chemicals they’re often made with, like barbiturates and depressants, are some of the commonly abused drugs in the U.S. Illegal drugs are often variations of each other and usually contain a mixture of different substances. Regardless, any form of drug use can result in addiction and other health complications.


If you or someone you know is battling quaalude addiction or any other substance use disorder, call Banyan Texas now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs in Waelder.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.