When it comes to discussions about addiction and drugs, people tend to bring up the more ‘popular’ drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana – they have a tendency to get more media coverage.
But according to one scientist, there is a certain painkiller that is taking more lives than even heroin and cocaine. It’s called Tramadol. You might know Tramadol as its brand names – Ultram or ConZip.
The prescription painkiller Tramadol works similar to an opiate and is taken by thousands of people every day to treat those who suffer from moderate to severe pain.
According to a Northern Ireland’s state pathologist Professor Jack Cran, Tramadol is one of the deadliest medication in the UK and it should be upgraded to a Class A drug.
Tramadol works in the brain, specifically on the focal sensory system. It changes how the body feels and reacts to pain. While the painkiller is effective if taken as prescribed, the problem arises when patients mix the prescription drug with other drugs or alcohol. Specialists in Northern Ireland connected 33 deaths to Tramadol just last year.
Professor Crane is worried that the Tramadol death toll will continue to increase if steps are not taken. He told ITV News:
“I don’t think that people realize how potentially risky taking Tramadol is.
“I think it’s because it’s a prescription drug – people assume it’s safe.”
Tramadol’s side effects
Many people who take this medication tend not to have serious side effects, however, there’s a reason it’s popping up in medical circles as a problem. Some of these (more serious) side effects can include:
- Severe stomach torment
- Rashes, tingling or swelling
- Difficulty urinating
- Loss of hunger
- Slow or shallow breaths
Patients who take Tramadol are becoming more and more dependent on its ability to relieve pain, much like opioids. If Tramadol is taken excessively, a patient can become both physically and mentally reliant on the drug.
Deaths from Tramadol are happening mainly from patients mixing the drug with other medications or substances. In 2014 in Northern Ireland, Tramadol was renamed and made illicit without a prescription. Many scientists such as Crane are now pushing for stricter limitations on the dangerous drug.
In the meantime, people who have to rely on medication can consider other options to alleviate their pain.