To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Tramadol as a pain relieving and physical work performance enhancement medication

Ann Ukachi Madukwe (Department of Psychology, IMO State University, Owerri, Nigeria)
Axel Klein (Global Drug Policy Observatory, Swansea, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 4 March 2020

Issue publication date: 4 March 2020



The purpose of this paper is to assess participants’ perception that tramadol enhances physical work performance and acts as a pain relief.


The participants were 30 (18 male and 12 female) tramadol-using emerging adults, aged 16–27 years, selected through respondent-driven sampling. The majority of the participants were university students, whereas others had completed senior secondary education. The study adopted a qualitative design. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analyses.


In general, respondents perceived and used tramadol for pain relief and physical work performance enhancement. The result showed that sex, employment status and daily dosage were not associated with respondents’ perception of tramadol as a pain-relieving medication. In contrast, sex and employment status were associated with participants’ perception of tramadol as a physical work performance enhancement medication, but daily dosage was not.

Research limitations/implications

Some users refused to participate because they were afraid of being exposed to law enforcement.

Practical implications

Male and female emerging adults are involved in non-medical use of tramadol. Prevention and intervention programs to reduce or stop this behaviour are needed, especially in the rural communities.

Social implications

The result showed that users were mostly from poor homes, whose parents could not afford university education and who were not qualified to get good government paying jobs. So, the use of tramadol became necessary for them to make more money from the kind of jobs they did. Reduction of the cost of university education and provision of regular jobs for this population are some of the measures recommended to counter non-medical use of tramadol by this population.


This is the first study in South-eastern Nigeria that focused on the non-medical use of tramadol among emerging adults, using a qualitative design.



Madukwe, A.U. and Klein, A. (2020), "Tramadol as a pain relieving and physical work performance enhancement medication", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 27-35.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited