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Painkiller Tramadol most abused drug among Egyptians looking for treatment on drug hotline

Ahram Online , Wednesday 2 Aug 2017
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The pharmaceutical painkiller Tramadol is the number one drug abused by addicts calling into the Drug Control Fund's hotline since January, Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali said on Wednesday.

The minister, who chairs the Drug Control Fund, said the free hotline 16023 received nearly 48,000 phone calls from January to June 2017; double the calls received in the same period last year.

Some 39 percent of the callers reported abusing Tramadol, while 28 percent reported taking hashish and 21 percent reported abusing heroin.

Callers have also reported abusing new drugs such as the analgesic Astrix (at 3 percent of callers) and the synthetic cannabinoid Voodoo (2 percent).

Some 92 percent of callers were addicts requesting treatment and 8 percent of calls were from the relatives and families of addicts, according to Wali.

Hospitals cooperating with the fund's hotline have received 48,969 patients since January; 1,1725 new addicts and 37,244 already undergoing treatment.

Cairo came on top with 29 percent of calls, Giza was second with 12 percent, and Alexandria was third at 11 percent.

The minister said that 56 percent of callers learned about the hotline from television, 22 percent from the internet, and 7 percent by word of mouth.

Some 43 percent of callers were between 20 and 30 years old, while 37 percent were aged between 15 to 20, and 13 percent were 30 to 40 years old.

Tramadol was ranked first among illicit drugs abused in Egypt in 2015, taken by 40.7 percent of drug users.

After a surge in abuse among Egyptians, possessing the powerful opiate without a prescription was made a felony in 2014, carrying with it a possible sentence of several years in prison. 

The drug's initial affordability contributed to its widespread use, but with a rise in black market prices and crackdowns on the illegal sale of the drug, the price of Tramadol on the black market has skyrocketed.

The Drug Control Fund's hotline was launched in early 2015 to offer free of charge and confidential treatment to patients.

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