The number of Belgians taking addictive morphine-like painkillers such as tramadol and oxycodone continues to rise, according to new figures.
New figures released by Inami, the National Institute for Sickness and Disability Insurance, show that in 2018, 1.12 million Belgians bought opioids at least once. That is one in ten Belgians.
The number of users has been increasing for years. In 2008, Inami counted 716,508 sales.
Tramadol, the most popular painkiller, was bought by over a million Belgians in 2018. Second is oxycodone, with over 80,000 patients. These two opioids are used increasingly, year after year, according to Erik Rossignol from the Office for Medical Evaluation and Control at the Inami.
The high number concerns him. “Even though opioids are certainly useful for pain treatment, the side effects are not without risks. People become addicted,” Rossignol said. Habituation is also possible, which means users will need even more pills. “As a result, they no longer have the desired effect and make some people even hypersensitive to pain.”