Your guide to Mandrax, buttons, whites and all the other names for this illegal drug.

Appearance and use

Mandrax was initially marketed as a sedative or sleeping tablet by French pharmaceutical giant Roussell Laboratories. It turned out to be highly addictive and was banned in 1977. Mandrax tablets are also known as buttons, whites and mandies.

Mandrax was originally a white tablet with the words Mx written on it. These days, because they are produced illegally and because of additives, they are sometimes grey or yellow in colour.

Mandrax in South Africa

Mandrax is still sold illegally in South Africa. In conjunction with dagga, it is the most widely used drug of choice in the Western Cape. In fact, Cape Town is reportedly seen as the Mandrax capital of the world.

It appears to be the drug of choice in the ganglands of the Cape Flats. Mandrax retails at approximately R30 – 35 per tablet, but recently the quality seems to be depreciating, forcing users to buy larger quantities in order to achieve the same high as five years ago.

How is it used?

Mandrax can be swallowed or injected, but is usually smoked. The tablets are usually crushed and mixed with dagga and then smoked using a pipe or a bottleneck. This pipe is also known as ‘white pipe’.

The effects of Mandrax

Minutes after smoking Mandrax, the user will feel relaxed, calm and peaceful and everything will feel perfect.

Some people will feel aggressive as the effects start wearing off. The effects last for several hours during which the user will have a dry mouth and very little appetite. Some will have slurred speech and stumble or stagger.

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.
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