List of Countries where Tramadol is Banned

In the contemporary world, science has advanced tremendously compared to the previous decade. While the aspect where the most advancement has occurred is debatable, prescription drugs have undoubtedly evolved exponentially. Some conditions which required a thorough treatment in the past are now being treated with pills alone. Obviously, with such effective chemicals, there are some major downsides, which is why some Tramadol is banned in some countries.

Tramadol Ban Cover

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol molecule

Tramadol belongs to the category of opioid analgesics, which affects the central nervous system, and it is prescribed to patients with moderate to severe pain or as a post-surgery painkiller. It comes in the form of a tablet, capsule, solution, and suspension. It is available either as a quick-acting or delayed-release tablet. It doesn’t exist naturally, therefore, it is synthesized in laboratories. Grünenthal was the first pharmaceutical company to launch this medicine in 1977; however, it was sold under the name of Tramal, and it was patented in the year 1963. Due to its ability to provide immediate relief, it was approved to be sold as a schedule IV drug in the United States and a schedule III drug in the United Kingdom by the mid-1990s. The molecular formula of Tramadol is C16H25NO2, and it comes in four different isomer forms. Tramadol is broken down into different molecules in the body, and among all the molecules O-desmethyl is what causes the noticeable effects of Tramadol. This molecule is known to strongly bind to μ-opioid receptors, which gives a euphoria-like feeling and its effects last for up to 6 hours. However, it being an opioid, it is widely used in countries like Libya and Syria by the militants their commanders hand them out, as this drug provides them with much-needed alertness required at check-posts. Currently, it is produced on a large scale in India, Pakistan, and China. Interestingly, Tramadol is also used to alleviate pain in animals like dogs, cats, camels, horses, donkeys, and goats.

List of Countries where Tramadol is Banned


Egypt Tramadol

This substance is strictly prohibited in Egypt. People traveling to Egypt are not allowed to bring Tramadol with them, and if they are caught with a large amount of this drug, even with a prescription, then, they can face a hefty fine and a long visit to the prison. Moreover, it is only available at government-regulated pharmacies and any private pharmacy is banned from selling this drug. Therefore, it is easy to see why people seek drug dealers who sell substances like cocaine and marijuana to get their fix of Tramadol.

Reason for the Ban

Out of all the countries, Egypt is facing an epidemic of Tramadol abuse in secrecy. Although the exact launch date of Tramadol in Egypt is unknown, it became widely spread in 2011, and since then, it has become one of the most popular drugs among the working class, and the number one cause of drug addiction. People use Tramadol as a recreational drug, and people working labor jobs state that it gives them energy, especially, on long workdays. According to the Drug Control Fund Treatment Center, out of 100,000 opioid users, half of them are addicted to Tramadol, and the other half are addicted to hard drugs like heroin. Additionally, Drug Control Fund hotline claimed that Tramadol-related calls increased up to 400 percent from 2015 to 2017, and what makes it devastating is that most of the users are under 30, and some are not even 16.


United Arab Emirates

UAE Tramadol

UAE is another country in the middle-east where Tramadol is banned. Similar to Egypt import of this drug can land a person in jail; however, in UAE the jail time can be as long as 25 years.

Reason for the Ban

Unlike Egypt, UAE was quick to ban Tramadol. It was banned in 2011 as soon as the authorities suspected its addictive nature and reports started emerging of people abusing it. Similar to Egypt, Tramadol abuse is statistically higher in adolescents and adults in their early 20s.  Although travelers are allowed to bring this drug in the form of prescription medicine for personal use, the inability to produce an original prescription letter from the doctor can have detrimental consequences. Unlike Egypt, where smuggling of Tramadol occurs on a large scale, immigrants unconsciously bring Tramadol with them as a painkiller. Unaware of the laws regarding this drug that is available readily in their native country, they unconsciously land on the radar of border security, and some even end up with long sentences in the prison. Activists against such cases strongly state that immigration agents are exploiting these immigrants, which is causing them to spend a huge chunk of their lives in prison.


Liberia Tramadol

Liberia is among one the countries in West Africa that are facing a drug epidemic of Tramadol abuse. It is still available in the market in the form of 50mg tablets, which are available via prescription; however, criminals are trafficking, importing, and supplying the country with Tramadol tablets that contain over 500mg of this molecule.

Reason for the Ban

Authorities in Liberia placed a ban on Tramadol in 2017, it is no longer sold by private pharmacies, yet Liberian users of this substance are alarmingly high. Youths in the age group of 15 to 18 are the ones who are most addicted to Tramadol. The dealers who sell these tablets are aware of their side effects; however, they continue to sell them because of how much profit they can make. One user was interviewed by FrontPage Africa in 2018, and he stated;

The tramadol can make me high; it can make me brave to do things that a normal person cannot do. It can make me numb and I can’t feel when somebody even stabs me with a knife.”

Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire Tramadol

Another country in West Africa, which is crippled with the abuse of Tramadol is Côte d’Ivoire. While it is spread across the entire country, the city of Abidjan is seeing a significant increase in the number of Tramadol addicts with each passing month.

Reason for the Ban

It is known as the poor man’s cocaine in Abidjan, which is reason enough for the restrictions. Similar to Middle-Eastern countries, Tramadol is mostly used by people doing labor jobs such as construction. Most users tried it out of curiosity, but since the tablets sold in the black market contain over 500mg of Tramadol and other substances, they were addicted to it in a very short duration. Unfortunately, people under 30 are mostly addicted to Tramadol.


Nigeria Tramadol

Nigeria was among the last country to place a ban on Tramadol, but it can be said that this addictive drug had already taken its toll on the population. Tramadol was banned in 2018, and one great thing about this ban is that only certified physicians can administer Tramadol to patients with genuine pain.

Reason for the Ban

In 2021, Nigerian Customs Services seized six million tablets of Tramadol, which were estimated at $63 million. Since the ban, criminals are coming up with creative ways to smuggle this restrictive substance. They often repackage Tramadol to pass under the radar of border security. According to the statistics, about 40% of Nigerian youth ranging from age 15 to 30 abuse hard drugs, more than half of them are addicted to Tramadol.



Cameroon Tramadol

Central Africa is not saved from Tramadol abuse either, Cameroon is also facing a Tramadol crisis. Tramadol is highly restrictive in Cameroon and similar to Liberia, only 50mg tablets are allowed to be sold under prescription; however, it doesn’t stop the smugglers from spreading it to the communities.

Reason for the Ban

In Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, markets are laced with sellers that are willing to sell fake medicines, hard drugs, and of course, prescription drugs like Tramadol to anyone, which includes children under 15 as well. According to the report of France 24, these sellers receive Tramadol from smugglers that purchase it in humongous quantities and discreetly distribute it in different neighborhoods. Pretty much everyone is abusing Tramadol in Cameroon, from high schoolers and university students to even the police officers.


Ghana Tramadol

Ghana is another country that has strict policies against the use of Tramadol. It is only allowed to be sold by government-issued pharmacies and to the patients who produce prescriptions from a government-certified physician.

Reason for the Ban

Similar to other counties in West Africa, youths were the number one addicts of this substance, and it is referred to as Tramo by them. They even mix it with alcohol and other substances to create an intense high. Thankfully, Ghana was the first country to look at this problem from a different perspective, they raise awareness regarding drug abuse in schools and engage with the community to educate them regarding Tramadol and other substances. Moreover, they introduced a new law that helps addicts quit their addiction instead of sending them to jail. This approach has a significant positive effect on the drug abuse of Tramadol, and slowly the number of addicts is decreasing.

Raised Concerns

Since Tramadol has become the reason for the opioid crisis in the mentioned countries, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime launched a warning in 2019, stating nations with legal distributions of this molecule must be wary. In their study, they found that these pills were not only used by school children but were also found in the pockets of deceased terrorists. Even World Health Organization raised its concern stating that the drug epidemic is something that cannot be ignored. Therefore, countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are changing their laws regarding the regulation of Tramadol. It is only available in 50mg in the United States now, under prescription. In the capital state of India, police busted over 20 million illegal Tramadol tablets in a warehouse. All of these reports are causing a stir in governments across the globe.

Add Comment