The abuse of the drug tramadol among the youth is becoming worrisome to most health experts.
Currently, the drug which is not supposed to be sold off the counter unless with a prescription has become a household name especially among the youth.
Among students in universities, second-cycle institutions, scrap dealers, head porters, ‘trotro’ mates, ‘okada’ riders, truck pushers and street hawkers interviewed by The Mirror, the drug was very popular.
Besides, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has registered only 50 mg and 100 mg dosages of tramadol for use in the country. The challenge here is how users are able to get the drug in excess of these dosage to use on a daily basis.
Most of these young people mix tramadol with energy drinks and other caffeinated drinks just to get high on them to misbehave. The mixture is known as ‘tremore’.
Others also claim it is very good to use ‘tremore’ as it is a good antidote to pre-ejaculation, especially for those who have early ejaculation problems.
For those who use the drug to enhance their sexual performance, they claim they are able to have fun for longer hours.
According to Isaaku Adams, a welder, “when you drink the ‘tremore’ concoction, you are able to get enough energy to work. You know our work is difficult; sometimes you feel so weak when you are cutting and joining metals but the moment you take ‘tremore’, you feel good. All you need is to crush about two tablets and drop it in an energy drink and you feel strong.”
Some senior high schools (SHSs) students in Accra hinted this reporter that the use of ‘tremore’ in some of the SHSs had increased due to the upcoming West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
They indicated that with a little ‘tremore’, they were able to sit for longer hours to study, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning, without feeling tired.
Mr Stephen Tuurah, a pharmacist with the Ghana Health Service, in an interview with The Mirror, explained that tramadol is basically a narcotic-like pain reliever and admitted that the upsurge in its use was mind-boggling.
Mr Tuurah said tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain, adding “Often, it is given to people who have just had surgery to reduce the pain. Unfortunately, these young people go to the extent of mixing it with energy drinks or drinks with caffeine just to get over-excited like some do when they take cocaine.”
He pointed out that energy drinks were highly accessible these days.
“Everywhere you pass, you find people selling energy drinks; therefore, the abusers are able to get them easily to use. Although tramadol must be bought with a prescription, heaven knows how they are able to get them in excess to abuse,” he stated.
Touching on the side effects of the abuse of tramadol, Mr Tuurah said the misuse of this medicine could cause addiction or overdose.
“You should not take tramadol if you have severe breathing problems, a blockage in your stomach or intestines or even ulcer. Taking tramadol during pregnancy may cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn and in some cases the child can become dependent on it,” he cautioned.
According to Dr Jacqui Barnes, the Resident Doctor of the Graphic Clinic, the maximum recommended quantity of tramadol per day is 400 mg; however, most doctors prescribe less due to its efficacy.