Mandrax (methaqualone) sometimes comes in light and dark blue capsules or white scored tablets. It is sometimes crushed and smoked with dagga in a ‘white Pipe’. Mandrax is also often used as a ‘downer’ by tik users in order for them to be able to function more normally or to be able to sleep.

It has its origins in medicine. When barbiturates (which are also called ‘downers’ and which were developed to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, tension, high blood pressure and convulsions) were found to produce dependence, barbiturate-like drugs such as methaqualone and flurazepam were introduced as substitutes, but they too have been found to produce dependence.

Short-term effects

The short-term effects of mandrax use are connected to the slowing down of activity in the central nervous system. Small doses relieve tension; large doses produce staggering, blurred vision, impaired thinking, slurred speech, impaired perception of time and space, slowed reflexes and breathing, reduced sensitivity to pain. Overdoses cause unconsciousness, coma and death.

Many deaths due to drugs are caused by barbiturates and barbiturate-like drugs. Accidental overdoses occur when children swallow pills or when adults with increased tolerance are unsure of how many to take. Mandrax can be particularly dangerous when used with alcohol.

Long-term effects

The long-term effects of using mandrax include anaemia, impaired liver function, chronic intoxication (headache, impaired vision, slurred speech) and depression. Babies of chronic users may have difficulty breathing and feeding, disturbed sleep patterns, sweating, irritability and fever. Smoking chemicals also will obviously damage your lungs.

Regular use results in tolerance, making increased doses necessary to produce the desired effect. Since less tolerance develops to harmful effects than to desirable effects, the margin between an effective dose and a lethal dose gradually narrows. Psychological dependence can occur with regular use, as can physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, delirium, convulsions and death.


How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A trained clinical psychologist can effectively perform a professional assessment, which will identify whether you have any problem areas, and will recommend the treatment most appropriate for you if necessary.

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