Global consumption of the opioid Tramadol, a drug that in some parts of the world is unregulated, increased 186 percent between 2000 and 2012, reports the International Narcotics Control Board.
In the United States, the synthetic opioid analgesic received government approval in 2010.
By 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration had placed it on the controlled substances list with a Schedule IV classification.
Tramadol was developed by German scientists in the early ’60s and goes by the trade name Ultram. The drug, which many believed held non-addictive properties, is prescribed for moderate to severe pain in adults. The DEA’s Schedule IV classification suggests a “low potential for abuse” but that is simply not true, and people are getting addicted in large numbers.
Unlike other opiates, the low potential for abuse is only when the drug is injected. Tramadol is an oral medication though, and The Wall Street Journal writes that recent research shows it packs a stronger punch than morphine taken orally.
Last year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report detailing the stark rise of tramadol issues.
From 2005 to 2011, emergency-room visits related to the opioid tripled, reaching 21,649. Internationally, the problem of tramadol addiction is even worse.
The World Health Organization has so far declined to regulate the drug because in developing countries, regulations make it harder for doctors who need to prescribe it for legitimate use.
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