Egypt’s Wave of Painkiller Addiction

How Egyptians cope with harsh living conditions:

As the sun rose on the first day of the Eid holiday, Youssef, an apprentice in a Cairo butcher shop, sat, knife in hand, covered in blood, nodding off. He had been awake for more than 24 hours, chopping up cows, goats and sheep in preparation for the holiday feast.

From the rowdy crowd of customers and bleating animals, another blood-covered butcher appeared with a packet of medication in hand. He popped a small red pill into Youssef’s palm, and the apprentice took it immediately.In minutes, Youssef – who declined to give his last name – was up, energised and back to work. … While there is no clear data stating how many Egyptians consume tramadol, its economic importance to Egypt has grown in recent years. Trading in the hundreds of millions of dollars, it is one of Egypt’s largest exports to both Libya and Gaza, according to the UNODC. Ten years ago, few people had heard of the pill. But now, Farafiro says, “tramadol is more popular than bread.”



About angelajoya

Assistant Professor, Middle East Political Economy, at the University of Oregon. Currently writing on the Egyptian revolution and the Syrian crisis.
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