Think prescription painkillers are always the safest option? Think again: Experts warn that a common opiate-based drug is now killing more people than heroin and cocaine. Curious? Read on below…
Common prescription painkillers… A prescription painkiller is apparently claiming more lives than heroin and cocaine, the Daily Mail reports. The narcotic Tramadol, sold under the brandname Ultram among others, is killing more people than any other drug, according to experts, especially in the UK. Seemingly, they believe the substance should be upgraded to the Class A Category.
Common prescription painkillers… Generally, Tramadol is used to treat both moderate and severe pain. Taken by thousands upon thousands of people every day, the opiate-based narcotic can be fatal when mixed with other medication or alcohol, the Daily Mail reports. Still, it’s currently rated as a Class C drug— that is, it’s deemed among the least deadly.
Common prescription painkillers… Tramadol’s latest reclassification in 2014 made it illegal to consume without a prescription. But according to experts, the drug isn’t inherently dangerous— as long as it’s taken correctly, of course. If not, it can be deadly, the Daily Mail reports.
Common prescription painkillers… Professor Jack Crane, state pathologist for Northern Ireland, explained to ITV News: “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’s safe.”
Common prescription painkillers… Anti-drug champions believe an increasing amount of users are looking to the black market for the narcotic, the Daily Mail reports. As a result, Professor Crane believes more people will die unless legal action is taken. In other words, legislators needs to crackdown on illegal sales ASAP.
Common prescription painkillers… But when it comes to overdosing, the drug doesn’t have to be illegally purchased to be fatal. Writing for the Daily Mail, reporter Jo Waters explains how John Bowker was shocked to discover his wife Lizz had stopped breathing. The incident took place in 2013.
Common prescription painkillers… “I’d been out of our bedroom for only six minutes,” Bowker, a retired engineer, explained to Waters. “When I came back Lizz was lying there lifeless.” The culprit? Tramadol.
Common prescription painkillers… Both Bowker and the paramedics tried to resuscitate Lizz, but it was too late. She had passed away. “I was devastated — I’d been laughing and joking with her 20 minutes before and she’d showed no sign of being unwell,” the then 67-year-old told Waters.
Common prescription painkillers… Mother-of-three Lizz, 57, died from an accidental overdose of Tramadol. She had been taking the opiod painkiller for a year before her death, as she was prescribed it for back pain and leg ulcers. On the day of her death, she had taken just two more tablets than her usual daily dose.
Common prescription painkillers… “She’d been sorting out her weekly pill box and I think she just got confused and took two doses,” John told Waters. The couple had been married for 38 wonderful years.
Common prescription painkillers… Tragically, Lizz’s death is by no means an isolated case. Last year, the Mirror reports, Tramadol was linked to 33 deaths in Northern Island. One was a 16-year-old girl, while another was a pensioner in his 70s. These deaths highlight the dangers associated with a narcotic that’s often regarded as the “safer” option.
Common prescription painkillers… Over on the Daily Mail, users spoke of their own experiences with Tramadol. One wrote: “I was on tramadol for three years after a serious bike accident. One day I ran out but never renewed the prescription.within one week I suddenly felt like I had woken from a coma with barely any memory of the past three years. Five years later and that period of time is still a blank. Avoid at all costs.”
Common prescription painkillers… Another said: “I was given tramadol and aromorph both were awful and I asked to be removed from taking them, eyes went funny,didn’t know what I was doing truly awful stuff. Had a serious migraine attack and was hospitalized twice both times for three days while they figured what was going on (I have a brain condition, so didn’t know if that was the problem) and yet again offered both drugs didn’t know they had already given me the tramadol as I was so out of it and had to ask them not to give me anymore as my vision etc was so effected.”
Common prescription painkillers… “I was prescribed this and after only one day had to come off them as I thought I would literally go round the bend. Take with care,” one user who goes by the name “Robbiew” warned.
Common prescription painkillers… But not all experiences were negative. “When I had sciatica, Tramadol was the only drug to have any effect on the terrible, debilitating pain,” user “MHat” shared. “I’m glad I was able to tolerate this wonderful drug!”