A Different Opioid Crisis

Across the MENA region, tramadol abuse is on the rise. 

The synthetic opioid is 1/10th the strength of morphine and lightly regulated. But it’s not benign. Tramadol causes a heroin-like euphoria with high addiction potential and dangerous side-effects including aggression and seizures.

Still, the UN is reluctant to add tramadol to the scheduled substances list, as it would restrict low-income countries’ much-needed palliative care options. Regulation also doesn’t address counterfeit meds; drug policy experts like Ghana’s Maria-Goretti Ane Loglo believe that other substances would replace tramadol if it were controlled. 

What is needed: Advocacy and addiction education, Ane Loglo says.


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