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February 4, 1983

Changing Patterns of Methaqualone Abuse: A Survey of 246 Fatalities

Author Affiliations

From the Dade County Medical Examiner Department and the Department of Pathology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami.

JAMA. 1983;249(5):621-626. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330290043027

Of 246 methaqualone-related deaths identified during an 11-year period (1971 through 1981), 76% have occurred since 1977 and 72% have involved fatal trauma. One third of the victims died in vehicular crashes. Sharp increases in methaqualone-related traumatic suicides, nonvehicular accidents, and homicides have occurred since 1978. This report discusses demographic and toxicological findings, particularly in regard to counterfeit methaqualone. The pattern of fatal methaqualone abuse has changed from an overdose phenomenon in the early 1970s to one of traumatic death. Victims frequently have exhibited poor judgment, impulsive behavior, and somnolence while attempting to function in their environment. The socioeconomic impact of recreational methaqualone abuse should be curtailed by appropriate governmental action and restraint in the prescribing of methaqualone.

(JAMA 1983;249:621-626)