Methaqualone: Usage trends

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 12:46 pm

Methaqualone use and abuse in the United States dropped significantly after its reclassification to an illicit Schedule I drug. Fatalities and injuries related to the drug’s use have also declined accordingly. According to the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee, annual U.S. emergency room visits related to methaqualone fell from 2,764 in 1982 to just 163 in 1988.
Scope and severity
The DAWN survey shows a definite downward trend in the number of methaqualone-related emergency room visits in the United States, with a total of 574 incidents in 1998, 271 in 1999, and 127 in 2000.
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
When methaqualone was legal in the United States, its status as a prescription drug meant its abuse could and cross lines of race, culture, and class status.
Illicit Quaalude use and abuse on college campuses was widespread in the 1970s and rose dramatically between 1978 and 1981. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan reported that by 1981, 6.5% of college students reported having used methaqualone without a prescription at least once in the previous year. By 1989, five years after the drug’s reclassification as a Schedule I substance, only 0.2% of college students reported use of methaqualone within the previous year. Data also shows that in 1981, 10.4% of college students had tried methaqualone at least once in their lifetime compared to 8.7% of young adults (ages 19 to 28) in 1989.
Among American high school students, methaqualone use has dropped to record low levels. According to “Monitoring The Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975-2000,” a U.S. survey of drug use patterns of secondary school students, use of the drug in 2000 was a mere 0.3% compared to 8% in 1981. Even for those adolescents who try Quaaludes, the drug may not have the allure it did in past decades. The “Monitoring the Future” survey reports that 63% of high school seniors who try methaqualone one or more times did not continue use of the drug (in the 12 months prior to the 2000 survey). Rates for methaqualone use were higher for whites than for any other racial or ethnic group among high school seniors.

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