Drugs as prescribed and taken over the counter – ultimately, they are still drugs, and still addictive – and still not enough is told to people by doctors.
In a series of special reports, UTV looks at the risks surrounding the prescription painkiller tramadol, as leading experts call for it to be made a Class A drug and one addict – hooked since the age of 14 – tells how it ruined his life.
Prescription painkiller tramadol, taken by thousands of people every day, is claiming more lives than any other drug – including heroin and cocaine – according to Northern Ireland’s top pathologist.
The painkiller doesn’t cause harm if taken correctly, but the danger rises when users mix it with other drugs or alcohol.
Last year, 33 deaths in Northern Ireland were linked to tramadol.
Among them were a 16-year-old girl and a pensioner in his 70s.
The opiate-based drug used to treat moderate or severe pain should only be available on prescription – it was reclassified in 2014 making it an illegal Class C drug without prescription.