Quaaludes' effects — which can include sleepiness and a sense of euphoria — are strikingly similar to those of modern date-rape drugs, including alcohol.(Booze is "the drug most commonly used to help commit sexual assault," according to the US Department of Health.) Quaaludes, or methaqualone, were first produced in labs in India in 1955; the scientists who made the drug were trying to find a cure for malaria.Bill Cosby has acknowledged he obtained drugs to give to women he wanted to have sex with during the 1960s and '70s.He has been accused of — but hasn't admitted to — sexual assault and rape.Quaaludes are a type of sedative, which work in the brain by halting the functioning of our "excitatory" messengers, the ones that typically increase our energy levels, and boosting the activity of our "inhibitory" messengers, those that usually work to calm things down. The key important inhibitory messenger that quaaludes act on is GABA, short for gamma-aminobutyric acid.Jordan Belfort, the man who inspired the film "The Wolf of Wall Street," described his experience with the drug in his autobiography: All at once a warm feeling came rising up my brain stem, as a pleasant tingling sensation went ricocheting through every molecule of my body. This action is why quaaludes make us drowsy and slow down our heart rate and breathing.
This causes white blood cells to release an antibody which then binds to what are known as mast cells.Yet Cosby acknowledged that he got seven prescriptions from a Los Angeles doctor for quaaludes, lab-produced pills that act to suppress the central nervous system, which slows heart rate and can make users feel relaxed or sedated.The drugs, which soared in popularity in the '70s, were taken off the market in the US in 1983 because they were linked with a high risk of abuse.As early as the late 1960s, people at dance clubs were using quaaludes, known then as "disco biscuits." By the '80s, they were outlawed.Like other drugs, quaaludes affect our brain chemistry by altering the levels of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that pass along the signals that control our thinking and behavior.