Day 12 - Tramadol & Co - Cairo/somewhere... - February 4, 2012

Now that the tramadol molecule (used in pain relief, among other applications, replacing the very popular Di-Antalvic which was withdrawn from the French market in March 2010) has itself come under scrutiny from the French agency responsible for checking the health and safety of medicaments (afssaps), according to the newspaper “Le Parisien”, I decided to highlight its secondary use in the daily life of certain Egyptians. The intention is not to lay blame, but it is important not to remain silent about the role the drug plays in Egyptian society, its various uses and its side effects.

Hashish or marijuana, locally known as “Bango” (shown in foreground of photo), unlike tramadol, is used – as in occidental societies – as a recreational drug and is very much part of the Egyptian landscape (remember that the vast majority of the population do not consume alcohol).

Tramadol may be used in the context of addiction treatment, as a more powerful chemical than codeine, acting on the same receptor as morphine. Having been the origin of a significant and very rapid addiction in Gaza, however, it became the focus of an international safety alert in 2009.

The drug is present across all social classes in Egypt and taken for varied and multiple reasons: some - from the laborer to the upper class lawyer - use it to regain energy for work; others to help them cope with the difficulties and pain of daily life; yet others, to boost their sexual relationships.

Having come face to face with regular users, I can formally testify to the side effects provoked by the doses ingested: problems of concentration, twitching, irritability, temporary amnesia…  In spite of this, the drug is highly prized for enabling the user to go beyond the usual limits of tiredness and stay awake for up to 48 - or even 72 - hours at a stretch, up to saturation point, sometimes leading to a recovery sleep lasting more than 24 hours.

Photo & text by Gaël Favari

(Photo © Gaël Favari for The Global Journal)



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