The Tramadol prescription painkiller that hundreds of thousands of people take every day kills more people than any other drug, including heroin and cocaine.
The painkiller does not cause harm if taken correctly, but it becomes very dangerous when mixed with other drugs or alcohol. Last year there were 33 deaths in Northern Ireland linked to Tramadol alone. Among the dead were a 16-year-old girl and a 70-year-old pensioner. The opioid-based medicine is used to treat moderate or severe pain and should only be taken with a prescription. In 2014, it was classified as an illegal “C” opioid drug that cannot be dispensed without a prescription.
The problem is that many people are already addicted to Tramadol and turn to the black market to get it because they can’t get more prescriptions to stop treatment, or because the doctor has prescribed another medication.
“Being a drug that is so commonly used and so prescribed, I don’t think people realize the potential risk they have when taking Tramadol without medical supervision,” explains Professor Jack Crane, a pathologist from Northern Ireland.
Crane is calling for the Tramadol classification to be updated again so that it is updated to Class “A”.
Pain management: tolerance and addiction
Some medications used to treat pain can be addictive. Addiction is different from physical dependence or tolerance. In cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms occur when a substance is suddenly suspended. Tolerance occurs when the initial dose of a drug loses its effectiveness over time. Addiction is a psychological and behavioral response that some people develop when using narcotic pain medications.
People who take opioid medications over a long period of time can develop tolerance and physical dependence, although this does not mean they are addicted. In general, addiction only occurs in a small percentage of people when drugs are used with adequate medical supervision.
Opioid pain relievers with effects similar to opium or morphine can be highly addictive and work by attaching to receptors in the brain, blocking the sensation of pain.
They should not be used for more than 3 or 4 months, unless it is done under the direct supervision of your doctor.
Some names of opiate drugs: