The dire effects of unprescribed dosages of Tramadol
Tramadol is an opiate drug designed to alleviate pain (moderate to moderately severe cases such as arthritis pain and post dental or other surgery). Much like morphine, excessive intake, constant use or overuse of this drug induces a certain ‘high’, a euphoric effect strong enough to spar with the likes of heroin.
The incidence of tramadol abuse cases is increasing exponentially in health facilities across the country. Ghanaian youth, especially in rural areas, now seem to be in active pursuit of the high that comes with the prescription drug. Some even go as far as to chase intake with alcohol, either unaware of the adverse, even deadly consequences or willing to risk them in the quest for the so-called euphoria. The abuse is however not limited to just the youth, but extends to the likes of manual workers, drivers, market women, and even prescription users.
Tramadol is classified as a controlled drug, a ‘prescription only medicine’ (POM), with the approved dosage strength for tramadol by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority being 50mg and 100mg in tablets and capsules and 50mg/ml-2ml in injections. It has however been discovered that the strength dosage being abused by members of the public is around 120mg, 225mg and 250mg.
The drug functions by “targeting the activity of opioid receptors found primarily within the central nervous system, as well as interfering with serotonergic and noradrenergic neurotransmission” ("Tramadol Abuse"). Simply put, misuse of the drug may disrupt regular nerve function and result in seizures and convulsions. Additional effects include unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, panic attacks, difficulty in breathing, suicidal tendencies, brain damage and in some cases, death.
Additionally, sustained use may result in dependence and eventually, addiction as tolerance to the drug’s effects develops. In such an instance, a greater dose of the drug is required to attain the same level of relief or the same high. The individual begins to crave the drug and seems to require it to execute basic daily activities. In extreme situations, the individual may experience withdrawal symptoms if they are unable to get access to the drug, including anxiety, depression, hallucinations, agitation, paranoia and more. At this point, the person reaches a level of desperation where he/she is willing to do anything at all to procure some pills.
Tramadol and other dangerous products are smuggled into the country and distributed by unlicensed individuals. Thus, deliberate action needs to be taken by the government and law enforcement to make the country’s borders significantly less porous so as to restrict the smuggling of these drugs. As suggested by Delese Mimi Darko, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA), there is also the need for a national education campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of tramadol abuse across the country. As citizens, we must exercise personal vigilance and make sure to seek help for and/or report any suspicious individuals.
BY: Marilyn Asiedua Ayisi-Ahwireng
"Tramadol Abuse". Drugabuse.Com, 2018, https://drugabuse.com/library/tramadol-abuse/