Mandrax – Methaqualone

(white pipe, Mandies, White pipe, Buttons, MX)

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South Africa is the largest abuser of Mandrax in the world.   

Mandrax was orginally considered a miracle drug for sleeplessness, high blood pressure and anxiety attacks. It was non considered a habit forming drug. it was later found that it has serious side-effects when taken with alcohol and dagga. People started breaking into pharmacies to get hold of it. It was then banned world-wide because of its misuse.

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Crime syndicates started producing it because the market was already set up by pharmaceutical companies. It is a highly addictive drug and is smoked for a greater rush. The street value of Mandrax is approximately between R25-R65 per tablet.

Methaqualone is marketed in South Africa as illicit tablet formulations usually in combination with the antihistaminic drug diphenhydramine, and less frequently with the benzodiazepine tranquilliser diazepam. MX is a small tablet varying in colour that is highly addictive.

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Mandrax is commonly smoked. The Mx tablet is crushed, mixed with dagga and smoked through a pipe or broken bottleneck known as a ‘white pipe’. Mandrax can also be swallowed whole or injected.

Short term effects

Relaxation – feeling happy (or laughing), calm and carefree


Aggression – when the high wears off

Nausea and vomiting

Falling over and passing out



Long-term effects

Risk of addiction – tolerance is built up rapidly

Decreased immune system


Mental and physical deterioration

Breathing becomes slower leading to respiratory failure, comas or death.

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Symptoms of excessive use

Nausea, vomiting and stomach pains are not unusual. A user will often have red, glazed or puffy eyes, especially if the Mandrax is taken together with dagga.

Increased usage in order to achieve the same effects as before is usually the first sign of a full scale addiction developing. In many cases, users feel tired after taking Mandrax and may go to sleep for lengthy periods. Depression is also not uncommon and is part and parcel of the Mandrax ‘hangover’. This often leads to repeat use of Mandrax to counteract the negative and unpleasant feelings.


Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from Mandrax takes place a few days after stopping use. Sleeping problems, nervous, anxious and irritable feelings, headaches, restlessness and eating problems are also common. Mandrax has proved to be a particularly difficult habit to break according to the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre.

If you have more questions about Mandrax addiction, you may chat to an online facilitator on the LIVE CHAT. The service is free and you may stay anonymous.


Van Zyl, E.F. The synthesis and analysis of methaqualone and some positional and structural isomers thereof. M.Sc (Chemistry) Thesis 2001.


Terminology and Information on Drugs, Revised Edition, United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, New York, 1999.


Merck Index, 13th Edition, Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station NJ, 2001.