Tramadol: Africa’s opioid crisis


The Lancet
published 19 May 2018

Away from the headlines, another opioid abuse crisis is hitting Africa. Experts express concern about the rise in non-medical use of the analgesic. Laura Salm-Reifferscheidt reports from Lomé.

It is not yet 10 AM and the sun is beating down on the corrugated iron roof of Lucien’s tiny repair shop in a sandy street of Lomé, the capital of Togo. The 28-year-old is busy fixing a motorbike for one of his customers. When he woke up this morning, he was too weak to fetch water for a shower. So Lucien took three tramadol capsules, a synthetic opioid painkiller. It has been his morning routine for the past 5 years…

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