Income inequality and tramadol addiction
According to Wilkinson & Pickett (2010), there is a correlation between income inequality and drug abuse. They argued that the income inequality in a particular country is a big threat to the health of the society more than any other factor. They proved that social problems and health issues are highly caused by the income inequality of the particular area. Current studies are engaged in to determine the nature of the relationship between income inequality and social and health problems, and to investigate whether income inequality is the cause of such problems. Youth from low-income families face economic challenges such as inadequate food, indecent place to live and universal health care. For instance, according to a recent UN report, in a low class neighborhood of Imbaba and Warak, 75 percent of the residents feel insecure or unsafe. As a result, youths engages in Tramadol abuse because they feel that they need to forget the condition they are living in. The desperate youths in the area are consequently turned to comfort by the abuse of Tramadol drugs that are readily available (Babones, 2008).
Increased cases of tramadol abuse are prevalent among the youths in Egypt. Several macro factors have led to increased use of tramadol including the availability of the drug, mainstream culture and the cultural environment. The micro factors for its uses include peer pressure, boredom, curiosity and seeking escape (Abolmaged et.al, 2013). However, the major factors that have led to an upsurge use of tramadol in the post-revolution Egypt include the changing social structure, increased rates of unemployment, and urbanization (Fawzi, 2011). The youths in Imbaba and Warak continue to engage themselves in drug and substance abuse and tramadol continues to destroy the potential in their lives. Due to its geographical position, Egypt has been used as the center of the distribution of tramadol across the globe. Egypt borders lie within the Red sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal. This has promoted drug trafficking in the country (Rasheed, 2001).
The availability and affordability of the drug have made it more popular. Faisel Hezagy, UN program officer states that, “A pack of 20 pills costs between LE3 ($0.43) and LE7 ($1). It is easily found on Egypt's streets,” (El-Kouny, 2013).The Egyptian Revolution in 2011 led to massive shipments of tramadol from China. This made it easier for the low class people to acquire the drug from the black market and avoided purchasing it from the pharmacy. The black market has led to its widespread abuse and studies have found that 50% of all psychotropic substance abusers in Imbaba and Warak use tramadol (Sanchez, 2012).
According to the research conducted by Galea et al. (2007), they identified several reasons that link the neighborhood income inequality with the substance abuse. First, they argued that the neighborhood characteristics “may increase levels of psychological distress, and the drug use may occur for the relief of states of stress.” Several researches show that poverty is highly associated with stressful life events, and the use of the available drugs is seen as a better way to cope with the situation (Babones, 2008). Secondly, adverse neighborhood conditions may challenge individual’s coping resources and hence make substance abuse a solution. Thirdly, the low-income neighborhood subject individual to inadequate social resources, and hence limited assistance in overcoming daily stresses and inadequate resources to curb drug use once initiated. Fourth, the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods do not have sufficient advertisement and campaigns to increase awareness and desirability of drugs among youths. As a result, considering the above factors, it is clear that there is a high correlation between poverty and the drug abuse among the youths in low class neighborhood in a particular area. The study observations suggest that income inequality and poverty to be both determinants of Tramadol abuse in Egypt. Therefore, the youths in the disadvantaged neighborhoods in Egypt are likely to engage in substance abuse as a way of coping with their hostile life.
The government has outlawed the drug, but this has not been effective. The addiction can only be reduced by solving the social and economic inequalities amongst the population. Since the revolution created the instability, the government must work hard to eliminate inequalities in education, employment, health and literacy. When these issues are dealt with accordingly, trafficking and drug abuse will decrease. The government must create awareness and disseminate important information to the public. The healthcare system should accommodate the drug abusers and avoid labeling them as criminals (Preston, 1991). People must be treated equally despite their socio-economic status to promote fairness and justice.
Rehabilitation centers are effective in the provision of care, treatment and prevention of tramadol addiction. The centers will treat the addicted youths and educate them so that they can abandon the behavior. In the end, the drug addiction will decrease as people will shun away from it. The creation of jobs to the youths will guarantee them an improved livelihood, and they will not see a reason to engage in drug abuse. They will spend most of their time in building the economy of the country, and this will reduces the instances of boredom and peer pressure.
Abolmaged, S.; Kodera, A.; Okasha, T.; Gawad, T.; Rawson, R. (2013). Tramadol use in Egypt: emergence of a major new public health problem. Canadian Journal of Addiction Medicine, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p5
Babones, S. (2008) ‘Income Inequality and Population Health: Correlation and Causality’, Social Science & Medicine, 66, pp. 1614–26
El-Sawy, H., Hay, M.A., and Badway, A. (2010). Gender differences in risks and pattern of drug abuse in Egypt. Egypt Journal of Neurol Psychiat Neurosurg, vol. 47(3)
Fawzi, M.M. (2011). Medicolegal aspects concerning tramadol abuse. The new Middle East youth plague: an Egyptian overview 2010. Journal of Forensic Research, vol. 2: 130
Galea, S., Ahern, J., Tracy, M., & Vlahov, D. (2007). Neighborhood Income and Income Distribution and the Use of Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Marijuana. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.04.003
Luiz Sanchez (2012, September 5). Comfortably numb: identifying the root of Egypt’s drug problems. Daily News [cairo].
Preston, K. (1991). Abuse potential and pharmacological comparison of tramadol and morphine. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. doi:10.1016/0376-8716(91)90081-9
Rasheed, A. H. (2001). Alexithymia in Egyptian substance abusers. Substance Abuse. doi:10.1080/08897070109511442
Wilkinson, R. G., & Pickett, K. (2010). The spirit level: Why greater equality makes societies stronger. New York: Bloomsbury Press.