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Is Gaza facing an opioid epidemic?

The impossible circumstances of day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip has led to a Tramadol epidemic that Hamas is struggling to address.
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ADEL ZAANOUN A Hamas police officer shows confiscated drugs, alcohol and medication at a police station in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalia on November 4, 2009. Drug use was once rare in Gaza's conservative society, but addiction experts say prescription painkillers and marijuana have become more common since Israel and Egypt sealed off the territory to all but basic goods in the wake of the Islamist Hamas movement's bloody takeover in June 2007.  AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Phot
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Addiction to Tramadol, a drug that affects the central nervous system and is used primarily to treat severe pain, is yet another symptom of the plight that so many Gazans face after nine years of living under closure, since June 2007. It appears that abusing Tramadol has become a way of dealing with the absence of any hope for change in the foreseeable future.

Frequent Israeli military operations against the Gaza Strip, economic duress, soaring unemployment and the day-to-day anxiety that is part and parcel of Gazans' harsh lives have led many residents — hundreds of thousands, according to Palestinian sources — to take Tramadol on a regular basis. Exact figures on the extent of the epidemic are not available, but sources in Gaza told Al-Monitor that there is someone in just about every household who regularly consumes the drug.

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