YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Police departments across the area are starting to see a drug, with the potential for abuse, popping up during their investigations.
In Youngstown, a raid on the south side Wednesday netted three arrests and 3,000 tablets of Tramadol, a pain reliever commonly used to treat arthritis.
Marqueal Smith, Shaquille Williams and Lewer Dent are all facing charges of drug possession in relation to the raid.
Just three days earlier, police in Campbell arrested Williams and Veronica Scott with almost 100 tablets in their car.
Common brands of Tramadol are Ultram, ConZip or Ryzolt. Used to treat moderate to severe pain, when taken in large doses, the drug can cause life-threatening respiratory issues and a potential for addiction and abuse.
Campbell Police Patrolman Rob Vukovich said he believes the jump in abusing Tramadol is due to its similarities to other pain medications and because it is relatively easy to obtain.
“Due to the easiness of getting this drug, it comes more readily available than Hydrocodone or Oxycodone. We’ve seen a big increase in the abuse of it,” he said.
In November of 2015, the Food and Drug Administration decided Tramadol needed to be regulated like other painkillers.
“The medical field hasn’t caught up yet. They’ve caught up with Oxycontins. They’ve caught up with Vicodin. They’re not prescribing that stuff as much as they used to, and now it’s Tramadols,” said Campbell Police Chief Drew Rauzan.
Tramadol, like other opiates, can be a gateway for harder drugs like heroin. Police expect arrests and abuse to rise in the coming years.
“It’s a constant battle. It’s a constant fight. I’m a retired police officer myself, and when I was a police officer, I worked drugs, and it’s a hard fight,” said Campbell Mayor Nick Phillips.