Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hamas in clampdown on painkillers - Gaza's opium of the people

Yet another indication of the dire circumstances in which human beings are expected to exist in Israel's open-air prison called Gaza, is shown by the fact that the use of painkillers to dull the senses and blot out the daily hardships is widespread in the Strip. Now Hamas is clamping down.
GAZA–Gaza's Hamas rulers burned nearly 2 million painkiller pills Tuesday that many Gazans take recreationally because they say it relaxes them and provides temporary relief from the territory's hardships.

The drug disposal at a hospital incinerator comes days after the Islamic militant group confiscated cigarettes from Gaza shops to collect taxes on them.

Hamas Health Minister Basim Naim said authorities burned some 1.7 million Tramadol pills seized from smugglers who sneak it by tunnel under the Egyptian border.

The powerful painkiller is related to morphine and heroin but most countries do not treat it as a controlled substance. Experts have said those who stop taking the drug after regular use often develop flu-like withdrawal symptoms, though long-term effects are rare.

Gaza's health ministry views the painkiller as addictive, Naim said, but allows its sale by prescription.

Tramadol's popularity in Gaza has grown as quality of life here worsened. more