What Are Quaaludes?

What are quaaludes? These barbiturate drugs were popular in the United States in the mid and late 1900s and can lead to addiction.

What are Quaaludes?

Quaaludes were once popular in the United States. While they were most used between the 1960s and 1980s, the usage of quaaludes nearly ended there. In fact, quaaludes are rarely found on the streets today. Quaaludes act like barbiturates, as they are meant to target the human body as a central nervous system depressant. There are many nicknames and street names for quaaludes, including “quack” and “lemmon 714.”

Quaaludes, for a time, were one of the most frequently prescribed sedatives in the United States in the 1970s due to its purpose of promoting relaxation, sleepiness, and calm. Quaaludes were also used for recreational purposes and commonly found on or near college campuses.1

What are Quaaludes


Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options with no obligation required.
Call Us Anytime: 1-866-754-0180


How Do They Work?

Quaaludes worked, and were so popular, because they are a sedative and were designed to impact the central nervous system. Similar to other sedatives, quaaludes bind to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain which, in turn, inhibit some areas of brain function. This process is why quaaludes had such calming effects on the mind and body.2

Are Quaaludes Addictive?

Although the intended use of quaalude were for safe sleep and prescription insomnia medication, the quaaludes drug type was later shown to be addictive. Quaaludes were made illegal by the Drug Enforcement Agency, and as of 1984, quaaludes were categorized as a Schedule 1 drug that has high potential for abuse. Much of the decision to outlaw quaaludes was because they have been found to be incredibly addictive and tolerance to the drug can develop rapidly.

Quaaludes Abuse Statistics

Although quaaludes are now an illegal drug, there are no recorded quaaludes abuse statistics. The quaaludes drug was only popular for a short period of time before becoming illicit, and there are no statistics reported on national drug abuse websites currently.

Causes of Quaalude Addiction

Quaaludes were deemed illegal due to its addictive tendencies and negative consequences on the human body. The source of quaalude addiction is likely due to the quickness in which an individual needs to take more of the substance to achieve a similar high. This makes it a substance that can be easily abused, and as it was a prescription drug during its short-lived usage, many patients found it easy to continue getting it. There are several treatments for quaaludes addiction, including group therapy, counseling, and outpatient treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Quaaludes Addiction

The signs and symptoms of quaaludes addiction is similar to other symptoms of depressant drugs. To detect the presence of quaaludes in the body, a quaaludes drug test can be conducted. The quaaludes drug test is typically done through urine collection and takes between three and five days to detect. Some of the common signs and symptoms of a quaalude high include:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Hives
  • Body weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat

Quaaludes Effects

The quaaludes effects can be physical, psychological, and social in nature. Generally, a quaalude high will peak within the bloodstream after a few hours from its uptake, it has a half-life of between twenty and sixty hours. Typically, the quaaludes mechanism of action is about thirty minutes after taking the substance and it can last between five and eight hours.

Physical Effects

Quaaludes can affect several areas of the mind and body. Specifically, quaaludes effect the kidneys and liver of an individual. In addition, there may be other complications due to the use of quaaludes. Some of the common physical effects include:

  • Respiratory arrest
  • Delirium
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Coma
  • Death

Psychological Effects

Quaaludes can also have psychological effects. While hallucinations are some of the common complications, quaaludes can have other psychological effects, including:

  • Delirium
  • Insomnia
  • Mood disorders
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression

Social Effects

Although quaalude pills were often taken due to peer pressure and other social influences, the quaaludes high does have negative social impacts as well. For instance, quaaludes impact social factors including:

  • Decreased social interactions
  • Increased isolation and segregation from loved ones
  • Withdrawal from social activities and events3

Risk Factors of Quaaludes

The many risk factors that coincided with quaalude pills are what got quaaludes banned from the United States. Individuals who use quaaludes can experience negative impacts on their mind and body, as well as death from complications.

Risk Factors of Quaaludes


Among other issues, the range of quaaludes doses was vast due to the fact that the drug was made illegally. The strength of a given batch of quaaludes was not typically known and could put the users at significant risk of overdose or death due to complications.

Combining Quaaludes with Other Substances

If an individual were to combine a quaaludes dose with other substances, including alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, or other depressants, the effects can be fatal. If an individual takes quaaludes with alcohol especially, the impact on the nervous system can be catastrophic. The combination of quaaludes and other depressants can have negative impacts on a woman’s menstrual cycle as well.

If an individual ingests more than three hundred milligrams of quaaludes for their first dose, it can be dangerous. For those that were more used to the drug, quality doses of over two thousand milligrams per day were fatal.


Quaalude tolerance can occur rapidly because even though the generally prescribed dosage was three hundred milligrams, users generally had to increase their intake pretty rapidly just to achieve the same impacts. In fact, tolerance may develop as soon as four days after taking this substance. As individuals require more of this substance to achieve the same high, tolerance occurs, and addiction can ensue.

Withdrawal and Relapse

If an individual regularly uses quaaludes and suddenly stops using the substance, they may experience withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can be severe and sometimes require medical attention. If an individual is to experience withdrawal and then again take the substance, this is considered a relapse and is a common symptom associated with addiction.

Complications from Quaaludes Abuse

The more severe quaaludes side effects can lead to seizures, coma, or death. Many of the quaaludes side effects occur when the drug is taken in larger amounts or when it is combined with other depressants. In addition, the quaaludes formula may not be pure and can have negative impacts. Some of the more severe complications from quaaludes abuse include:

  • Toxic psychosis: Toxic psychosis can occur due to severe delirium and hallucinations caused by quaaludes usage.
  • Bleeding and sores: Bleeding and sores are common when there are high levels of quaaludes in the body. These sores occur around the eyes, stomach, or intestines and typically lead to severe rashes, blisters, and bruising beneath the skin.
  • Vital organ damage: The liver and kidneys are at risk of damage when overdose occurs from abusing quaaludes.
  • Aspiration: If an individual overdoses by using quaaludes drugs, they may inhale their own vomit or saliva which can lead to choking, lung inflammation, and severe infections.
  • Injuries and accidents: Quaalude substances can inhibit an individual’s sensitivity to pain which can cause them to injure themselves without knowing it.4