The abuse of psychoactive substances has elevated to a serious global public health issue in the twenty-first century. Evidently, abuse of such drugs are associated with psychosocial, economic and medical complications. In recent years, drug abuse and addiction have emerged as one of the most significant public health issues. Tramadol use among Ghanaian teenagers is a growing issue. Nevertheless, there is little information in the literature about tramadol use and its effects among young people in Ghana. This paper aims to explore tramadol abuse among young people in Ghana.
Tramadol is a potent analgesic that belongs to the class of drugs known as narcotics or opiates. It is a centrally acting analgesic with weak μ-opioid agonist properties and inhibition of norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake. Generally, tramadol is thought to act by binding to μ-opioid receptors and by inhibition of re-uptake of noradrenaline and serotonin. It is a mixture of two stereoisomers. Tramadol also has an active metabolite (M1) formed by O-desmethyltramadol.
It is used to treat moderate to severe pain, such as that which follows surgery or a traumatic injury. If lesser medicines stop working for chronic pain, doctors may also prescribe tramadol medication. Tramadol is taken orally in the form of liquid drops, capsules, or tablets. It can also be injected.
Tramadol use on the rise in Ghana
The use of tramadol among the Ghanaian youths has been an emerging issue. Several cases of health problems and deaths especially among males have been reported across the 16 regions in Ghana.
A survey on tramadol use among Ghanaian youth was conducted in the Ashanti Region of Ghana between April 2021 and November 2022. A sample of 604 youths participated in this study. Data was gathered with the help of questionnaire.
The demographic data showed that about 71.3% of the respondents constituted males, whiles 28.7% were females. The respondents were between the ages of 15 to 35 years.
The prevalence of tramadol use among the youth was 38.1%. This figure is high as compared to previous reports. Their main source of tramadol acquisition was from dealers (50%), with some of the respondents also acquiring it from friends (35.7%) as well as pharmacies (14.3%).
Reasons Underlying the Use of Tramadol among the Youth
The youth cited several reasons for the use of tramadol. Generally, prolonged sexual intercourse was the major reason underlying the use of tramadol among the youth, followed by aggressive behaviour, euphoric effect, coping with stress, and increase in physical pleasure.
Level of Knowledge of the Youth on the Effects of Tramadol Use
There was inadequate level of knowledge among the youths on the effects of tramadol abuse. Only 33.3% of the respondents agreed that tramadol affects daily life of people. The majority of respondents (79.3%) disagreed that taking tramadol affects sexual life. Only 49.3% of the respondents indicated that tramadol use is related to violent crimes.
Tramadol use is a major issue among youth worldwide. Consequently, tramadol abuse was found to be high among the youths in Ghana. Therefore, this paper recommends that there should be strong legal framework by the government to reduce the circulation of tramadol among the youth in the country. Hence, the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drugs Board should encourage media programs across various media, to educate the youth about the dangers of abuse of Tramadol.