NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE DEROGATORY REMARKS AGAINST TRAMADOL.
It is not uncommon to find derogatory expressions and remarks associated with the use of Tramadol on social media and other medium of communication. The unfortunate trend must not be allowed to continue unabated. Tramadol is an FDA approved prescription drug for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is a mainstream drug in Ghana health system for the management of pain. For the drug to be associated with derogatory comments in everyday Ghanaian communication should be a cause of worry.
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid drug and like other opioid drugs interferes with the normal release of neurotransmitters. This could lead to drug dependence if it is abused. It may lead to drug dependance and tolerance. Drug dependence develops due to debilitating withdrawal symptoms and tolerance results when higher than normal doses are needed to elicit drug action. Affected individuals thus need a continued and higher than normal doses of the drug for comfort due to their altered system. Tramadol was not as popular as it is now. The drug’s negative popularity is partly due to the vigorous awareness creation against its abuse.
However the national campaign slogan of “Stop Tramadol Now” might have created an exaggerated and misconstrued view of the drug in the minds of the public. Due to this, a lot of people may want to know this drug that needs to be stopped now! The drug which has been derogatory tagged could also stem from exaggerations and false attributions of its ill effects in campaign messages. Instilling fear in people on falsehood to cause a change of behaviour is potentially dangerous in our current dispensation of reasoned evidence-based knowledge. For this reason if such exaggerations and false attributions to the drug are deliberate, campaigners would have to revise against such an unhealthy strategy.
The derogatory tag on Tramadol is a call on regulatory bodies to supervise and monitor activities that fall within their domain. Much as individuals or groups have good intentions to effect behavioural change, it must be done well to avoid destroying the good sides of the drug. Groups or individuals must seek permission and approval from mandated authorities to engage the public in sensitive issues such as this one. Their campaign messages and level of expertise on the subject matter should be scrutinised. Regulatory bodies must be on the look out to call any recalcitrant individual or group to order.
Sadly, we never seem to learn from the hindsight of our delinquency to duty and lax regulations with associated injuries. Derogation of tramadol potentially could affect healthcare delivery in the use of the drug. It could also derail the success of public campaigns on tramadol abuse and rehabilitation for addicts. The stigma associated with the drug could psychologically affect patients who are given the drug when they visit healthcare centres. The stigma could also stifle drug compliance and make patients resort to self-medication in seeking alternatives. Campaigns on Tramadol could be more effective when victims share battles of their addictions during campaign programmes. Primary information on how they got addicted and how they managed to wane off from drugs is vital in cautioning people against drug abuse. It also gives hope to addicts looking forward to get treatment for their addiction or dependence. However, in hostilities of stigma, no such individuals will risk public ill judgment to engage in such public education. People who might want to seek medical help for their addiction could shy off from the dread of stigma. People would willingly seek tramadol addiction treatment if they are assured of community love and support. However in an atmosphere of unfriendly jabs, addicts may think their better off shelving their woes than shouldering an insensitive mocking society. In effect, drug related crimes increase and man power resource go waste.
In view of this, the public through education should be re-oriented on its position on Tramadol and other opioid addiction and abuse, which is common to other countries. The public ought to see Tramadol as a pain killer and not a monstrous prohibited drug. We must come to the understanding that drug addiction could affect anyone of us and people can get addicted to prescribed drugs.
Together let’s stop the stigma against Tramadol Now!
BY MARTIN AKANDAWEN, A PHARMACOLOGY STUDENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GHANA.