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August 21, 1981

Methaqualone abuse implicated in injuries, deaths nationwide

JAMA. 1981;246(8):813-819. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320080003001

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To X o youthful drug users, the seductive white tablets represent "luding out." They promise a "high" superior to that offered by barbiturates, a drunk without the impotence or the hangover, an aphrodisiacal experience.

While these properties of methaqualone—known by the US trade name Quaaludes or, in street-parlance, "ludes"—are probably largely mythical, the ill effects of methaqualone abuse are as real as the "luded" adolescents now arriving at hospital emergency rooms and at morgues in record numbers. These youngsters present with life-threatening toxicity from overdosage, fatal personal injury, or a severe withdrawal syndrome that can progress to convulsions.

Methaqualone is now the leading drug of abuse next to marijuana, notes Gene Haislip, director, Office of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In terms of causing injuries, he adds, the drug is now outstripping even heroin and cocaine on the illicit market in 13 major cities throughout the