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Besieged Gazans seek escape through painkillers
Besieged Gazans seek escape through painkillers
May 30, 2024 9:07 AM

  Abu Abdullah got hooked on painkillers after his house was destroyed and his 12-year-old daughter was killed by Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year.

  "I'm not an addict," said the 39-year-old father of five, who now lives in a cramped rented apartment in Gaza City, his home still in ruins.

  "The problem is that I cannot sleep unless I take one or two pills to calm me down."

  The blockade of Gaza has had severe humanitarian consequences, Human Rights Watch said. Gazans are increasingly turning to Tramadol, a painkiller locally known by its brand name "Tramal," to ease the pain of a crippling two-year-old Israeli blockade and the lingering devastation from last winter's war.

  Abu Abdullah started taking Tramadol to deal with the stress of chronic unemployment.

  "I haven't worked in three years and I can't meet the needs of my children," the 45-year-old laborer said, asking that his real name not be published.

  "In the beginning I took one Tramal I got from friends and I felt much better. Soon I was taking five pills a day."

  Drug use was once rare in Gaza's conservative society, but addiction experts say prescription painkillers and marijuana have become more common since Israel sealed off the territory.

  The blockade has confined nearly all of Gaza's 1.5 million people to the narrow coastal strip where the economy is on the verge of collapse and most residents survive on foreign aid.

  Hard drugs are virtually non-existent in Gaza, but many people have turned to prescription painkillers in the wake of the devastating 22-day war that Israel launched on the territory on Dec. 27, according to experts.

  "Some youths come in every day to buy painkillers such as Tradamol, but we don't sell it if they don't have a prescription," said a Gaza pharmacist, who declined to be named.

  He added however that many people turn to the black market for their fix.

  "The situation of always being on the lookout for the next Israeli war puts the people of Gaza in a state of worry and perpetual tension, in addition to the unemployment and the poverty," said Samir Zaqut, a psychiatric researcher in Gaza.

  Source: Agencies

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