Children between the ages of 10 to 12 years have taken a dramatic lead in the abuse of tramadol, commonly known as “Tramore or Iray” in the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrim (KEEA) Municipality in the Central Region.
Tramadol, sold under the brand name Ultram among others, is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain and works in the brain to change how one’s body feels and responds to pain.
Mr Rees Hakeem Oduro, the Acting Regional Commander of the Narcotics Control Board (NCOB), said this at the weekend in Elmina at an engagement with traders, drivers and the public to enlighten them on the effects of drug abuse.
He said the revelation was made after the Board had undertaken intensive investigations in schools, religious organisations, transport unions, groups, communities and random street interviews in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Pharmaceutical Council.
He cited peer influence, curiosity, lack of parental control, easy access to tramadol, and negligence among others as the leading cause of the abuse of the otherwise medically approved pain relieving drug.
He mentioned major sales outlets and areas of severe abuse to include Elmina Castle Beach and surrounding areas, Liverpool, Ocean View Beach and other shanty structures and ghettos along the coastal stretch.
Mr Oduro said in addition to the euphoric and mood-enhancing effects sought by tramadol abusers, taking tramadol for non-medical purposes or in a manner different from that prescribed by a doctor can have negative and sometimes dangerous health implications.
These include disturbed sleep patterns resulting in insomnia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, lightheadedness or dizziness, drowsiness, headache, loss of appetite, dry mouth and increased risk of convulsions or seizures.
Touching on other abused substances, Mr oduro observed that most teenagers in second and tertiary institutions were engaged in alcoholism and drug abuse, a situation he described as “alarming and dangerous” to achieving their future aspirations.
He noted that the brains of the adolescent and young adults were not fully developed, therefore too much intake of alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and other hard drugs could put them at risk.
Mr Oduro said teenagers who persistently indulged in alcoholism and drug abuse often experienced an array of problems including academic difficulties and health related problems including mental health.
Others are declining grades, absenteeism and increased potential for dropping out of school, low level of commitment to education, higher truancy rate and increased risk of death through suicide, homicide, accident and illness.
He advocated a national discourse on the import, distribution, sales and consumption of tramadol with keen focus on scaling efforts to drastically demystify the notion about the drug that had driven many youth into taking it to satisfy their curiosity.
Mr oduro called for a more concerted effort by all stakeholders, especially parents, to remedy the alarming trend of drugs misuse, particularly tramadol abuse in the Municipality.
Mrs Naa Korkoi Ewudzie, the Regulatory Officer of the FDA, expressed the determination of the Authority to ensure public safety by insisting that products met quality standards and consumers must be careful about the products they bought, particularly canned foods.
She told consumers to critically read the labels on drugs and food items, check the expiry date, batch number and legibility of the manufacturers and not hesitate to come to the FDA with products complaints for prompt action.
She said the public should not only refuse to patronize anything unwholesome but be bold to expose those trading in illicit and banned goods to desist from the practice.