Dubai Customs launches Tramadol campaign

Dubai Customs launched an awareness campaign yesterday about the risks of Tramadol abuse, under the theme, ‘Tramadol without a medical prescription leads to addiction and depression’, to coincide with the International Day Against Drug Abuse held worldwide on June 26.

Held in coordination with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), the campaign will continue until the end of the year.

Ahmed Butti Ahmed, executive chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, director general of Dubai Customs, said: “The campaign comes as part of Dubai Customs’ keenness on protecting individuals from the potential risks of dangerous substances which are detrimental to their health and safety, while preventing the illegal entry of restricted goods, including Tramadol, and encouraging public collaboration in thwarting attempts of smuggling this type of narcotics meant for local use in illegal ways.”

“Though Tramadol is an effective opiate medication used to moderately alleviate severe pain and can be used only if prescribed by a doctor, it has dangerous side effects on human health and sanity.”

Most of the nations worldwide, including the UAE, have restricted its use and enlisted it as a dangerous substance. A permit from the Ministry of Health is mandatory before importing it, according to the Ministerial Decree No (15) 2011- Attached Tables of Federal Law No (14) 1995 (Second Article) concerning the Counter Measures against Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and its amendments which include Tramadol and its other substances.

“The widely spread phenomena of Tramadol use amongst students and youth in recent years and the number of seizures by Dubai Customs over the last three years, prompted us to launch this awareness campaign in coordination with DHA and DMI to warn individuals from using this dangerous drug without a medical prescription,” Ahmed said.

Khalid Ahmed Al Sheikh Mubarak, deputy director of DHA, said: “This campaign aims to spread awareness among various community segments, mainly, students, youth and families to educate them about this epidemic phenomenon which has recently spread amongst youth and students of universities and schools.”

“Given the dangerous consequences, it is vital that all related and competent authorities educate the youth about the dangers of Tramadol abuse through the adoption of innovative methods that assist correction of behaviours and protect the community from this kind of addiction,” he added.

“The campaign, which is a part of Dubai Customs’ social responsibility initiatives will continue until the end of this year and coming years as well,” Feryal Tawakul, executive director of community affairs and government partnership division at Dubai Customs, said. “It is aimed at increasing awareness of all society members from all segments and nationalities about the dangers of abusing this drug. The goal is to keep people safe and healthy and achieve a Tramadol addiction-free community.

“Dubai Customs has created a work plan with its partners from Dubai Health Authority and DMI and facilitated active partnerships to highlight the goals of this campaign by integrating the roles of these entities to ensure that awareness is created among the largest number of community members through various innovative mechanisms that target the youth and their parents in particular.”

“The campaign features distribution of booklets about Tramadol and its risks to the youth. Moreover, the campaign will include awareness visits to schools, colleges and universities, publishing ads in print, audio and visual media, conducting awareness lectures for students and government department employees, introducing Dubai residents and visitors to the risks of abusing this drug and posting awareness messages on the social networking pages (Facebook and Twitter) of Dubai Customs and its partners,” Tawakul added.

DMI will include awareness messages in all its publications and spread them through TV and radio channels to introduce community members to the risks of the drug based on information released by the DHA and published medical reports about the definite side effects of Tramadol.

Moreover, it will also continuously publish the campaign news and updates, in addition to conducting interviews with participating bodies to generate public awareness of the risks of Tramadol addiction and abuse.

Tramadol is an opioid pain killer, according to the Dubai Health Authority. It acts in the central nervous system to treat moderate to moderately severe pain, as in post-op pain, arthritic pain and injury-related pain.

Considering that all opioid substances can cause abnormal drug-seeking behavior-addiction-in a varying degree, a prolonged use of Tramadol without medical necessity and without consulting a doctor, especially when used in high doses, will lead to physical and psychological dependence on the drug, requiring users to take higher doses to achieve the desired impact.

Tramadol overdose can result in dangerous health problems, including seizures, blurry vision, depression and severe mood swings. It will also lead to low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, drowsiness, low-level of consciousness that may turn into narcolepsy and shortness of breath that may develop into apnea.

The Dubai Customs seized nearly 91 million Tramadol pills last April that were illegally imported, and came via sea cargo to Jebel Ali from an Asian country.