By Francois Lubbe
You suffer with moderate chronic pain. Some days you are in such agony that ordinary over-the-counter painkillers just don’t bring the relief you need to carry on with your daily activities…
Finally, after some convincing your doctor prescribes a common opioid painkiller, tramadol, to help ease your pain. He even tells you that this drug is a “safe option” painkiller.
Hold your horses…
A few years ago, this powerful painkiller made headlines when it was reported that deaths from tramadol overdose have soared from just one in 1996 to 154 in 2011. More than 500 people died from tramadol overdoses between 2006 and 2011.
In 2013, tramadol hit the spotlight again, when John Bowker told the horrifying story of how his wife died within half an hour after accidentally taking an extra dose of the painkiller.
John told how he had been laughing and joking with his wife Lizz 20 minutes before he found her lifeless body. He said: “She’d been sorting out her weekly pill box and I think she just got confused and took two doses”.
Lizz, 57, a mother of three, died from an accidental overdose of the opioid painkiller tramadol, which she’d been taking for the previous year for back pain and leg ulcers. She had taken just two more tablets from her usual daily dose of eight 50mg tablets.
Tragically, her death is by no means an isolated case and highlights the dangers associated with a drug still regarded as the “safer” option… when it is anything but!
In fact, a few weeks ago a leading pathologist warned that tramadol is killing more people than heroin and cocaine… and instead of being classed as a Class C drug — deemed among the least harmful — it should be reclassified as a Class A drug.
In a television interview Professor Jack Crane, state pathologist for Northern Ireland, said: “I don’t think that people realise how potentially risky taking Tramadol is. I think it’s because it’s a prescription drug – people assume it is safe”.
To make matters worse, campaigners believe an increasing amount of people are looking towards the black market to get their hands on the drug. Professor Crane believes more people will die unless action is taken to crackdown on illegal sales.
If you are taking tramadol (also sold under the brand names Tilodol, Tradore, Tramquel, and Zydol) make sure that you always follow the prescription guidelines and never exceed the recommended dose.