Mandrax Abuse and Depression

Contributor: written by Starlite clinical content team member Hugh C. McBride.

beautiful 35 year old woman stands in front of the window struggling with MandraxMandrax, which is also known as Madrakes, Mandis, MX, and other slang terms, is a highly addictive central nervous system depressant that has a sedative and hypnotic effect when consumed.

Mandrax is actually the brand name under which the drug methaqualone was sold in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. In the United States, methaqualone was sold under the brand name Quaalude.

From the 1950s through the early 1980s, these drugs were marketed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. Mandrax and Quaalude were often prescribed as stress-relievers, similar to how Valium was also used during this period when psychopharmacology was in its relative infancy. However, though the drugs may have been taken by people who were experiencing symptoms associated with depression, neither were anti-depressants.

A Powerfully Addictive Drug

The addictive properties of methaqualone meant that many people who took the drugs even on the advice of a healthcare professional found themselves incapable of stopping, and the drug’s powerful effects made it a popular drug for recreational abuse.

In a sense, Mandrax and Quaalude were precursors to the club drugs that became popular in later decades, as the prevalence of their use at nightclubs that featured the popular music of the time earned them the nickname disco biscuits. Unfortunately, as would later occur with the club drug Rohypnol, Mandrax and Quaalude were also used by rapists and other predators, who would surreptitiously use them to immobilize potential victims.

The addictive nature of the drug, the prevalence of its abuse, and its use in sexual assaults prompted the United States and other nations to ban the legal sale of Mandrax and Quaalude in the 1980s.

The Horrific Stories of Methaqualone Abuse

man with mirrowMethaqualone has received renewed public attention in recent years. In 2013, Quaalude abuse was featured prominently in the hit film, The Wolf of Wall Street, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. In 2015, the drug was mentioned in many stories related to the multiple rape allegations against comedian Bill Cosby [1]. Also in 2014, Jackie Fuchs, a member of the pioneering 1970s rock band, The Runaways, revealed that she had been drugged with Quaalude pills and raped by the band’s manager in 1975 when she was 16 years old [2].

Given the horrific nature of many Quaalude-related stories, it is not difficult to understand why methaqualone was banned both in the United States and in the nations where it was marketed as Mandrax. Given the unfortunate nature of substance abuse and addiction, though, it may also not be surprising to learn that versions of the drug are still highly sought after for both recreational and predatory purposes.

For example, Mandrax remains one of the most commonly abused recreational substances, in South Africa, where the drug is acquired in pill form, then often crushed, mixed with other substances, and smoked.

Using Mandrax to Self-Medicate

As is the case with substances such as Valium, Ecstasy (MDMA), and Xanax, Mandrax may be enticing for individuals who are attempting to self-medicate symptoms of depression. The sense of calm and sedation that this drug can create may appear to be desirable states by people who are consumed with profound sadness, despair, or hopelessness.

However, it is clear that the ill effects associated with Mandrax far outweigh any negligible positive sensations that may occur from abusing this drug. Mandrax abuse quickly leads to dependence, and the effects of chronic abuse include dangerous weight loss, swelling of the abdomen, and tooth decay. When an individual who is addicted to Mandrax attempts to stop abusing the drug, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and may include seizure [3].

Avoiding and Treating Abuse of Mandrax

Man looking out to seaWhether undertaken for recreational purposes, out of curiosity, or as self-medication, Mandrax abuse is a dangerous endeavor that can result in significant damage and should be avoided at all costs.

Individuals who are struggling with depression should never abuse alcohol or any other substance in an attempt to self-medicate their symptoms or to numb themselves from their psychological pain. Depression is a highly treatable condition when care is provided by a qualified professional. If you or someone you care about is dealing with a depressive disorder, contact a qualified healthcare provider today.


  1. Reuters. (2015, July 7). “Bill Cosby said in 2005 lawsuit he gave Quaaludes to women for sex”. Retrieved from
  2. Cherkis, Jason. (2015). The Lost Girls. Retrieved from
  3. National Institute of Health. PubChemOpen Chemistry Database. “Methaqualone”. Retrieved from

About the Author:

“Mandrax Abuse and Depression” was written by Starlite clinical content team member Hugh C. McBride. Hugh has several years of experience researching and writing on a wide range of topics related to behavioral healthcare. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Grove City College.

About Starlite Recovery Center:

Located on 55 peaceful acres of beautiful Texas hill country, Starlite Recovery Center provides life-changing treatment for adults, ages 18 and above, who are dealing with chemical dependency and certain co-occurring conditions. Starlite offers medically monitored detoxification andcomprehensive residential treatment, including two specialized treatment tracks: Young Adult Male Program (a 45-day program for men ages 18 to 28) and Journey Christian Program (a nondenominational faith-based program). Starlite also offers a two-day Family Program that features education, family and multi-family group process, and skill-building sessions.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on August 8, 2015
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 8, 2021
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