Though Tramadol hasn’t yet achieved the publicity other opioids have in the states, it sure is making waves abroad.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that tramadol, an addictive synthetic painkiller believed to be as powerful as morphine, is claiming more lives in Northern Ireland than any other drug – including heroin and cocaine. And shockingly, it remains unregulated…on the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) – something that’s helped spread abuse and addiction among developing and developed countries alike.
The Spread of Tramadol and Violence
Tramadol is a prescription opiate medication, but it’s regularly sold as an alternative narcotic on the black market. Simply put; tramadol is cheaper and more accessible.
Although it’s not a traditional street opioid, tramadol can produce a euphoria comparable to heroin, even at a single dose of 75 mg. It acts as a stimulant, but recreational users are quick to point out that tramadol doesn’t come with the cognitive impairment of OxyContin and other opioids. Its effects can also last for up to 12 hours – far longer than other painkillers.
Make no mistake; there are significant dangers involved with tramadol abuse. Not only are the withdrawal symptoms excruciating (therefore making it quite difficult to quit using it), but overdosing is quite common. Symptoms can involve seizures and a fast collapse.
And it’s no longer just the tramadol abusers who are facing danger; doctors in several countries are now being harassed and attacked by patients seeking the drug. Tom Black, a senior doctor with more than 20 years’ experience and chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, perfectly highlights the frightening situation.
“You can see the same names popping up looking for appointments to come in and they won’t leave the room without them (prescriptions),” said Dr Black. “Some of them threaten you, some of them threaten violence, and obviously that’s not acceptable and we won’t put up with that.”
“They literally won’t leave the room and they face you down,” he said.
Too Little, Too Late?
International regulators now realize tramadol is heavily abused in some places, but they are in a tight spot. When a drug comes under regulation, it can become difficult for doctors in poor countries to obtain it for legitimate use. And in African nations, such as Cameroon, tramadol is the only opioid available for people with cancer and post-surgical pain, leaving many to consider it an essential drug.
In the U.S., where citizens are already battling an opioid epidemic of their own, tramadol misuse is finally being recognized. In fact, it was reported that emergency-room visits related to tramadol misuse has more than tripled in 2011 from 2005, to 21,649.
Additional Reading: Yay or Nay: Is the Opioid Epidemic a Conspiracy?
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