Opioid crisis engulfs blockaded Gaza Strip

An opioid crisis has quietly spread in the Gaza Strip, trapping thousands in the hell of addiction and adding another layer of misery to the blockaded and impoverished coastal territory.

The scourge can be traced to the mass import of cheap opioid-based Tramadol pain pills through smuggling tunnels under Gaza's border more than a decade ago. A more addictive black-market form of the drug called Tramal has since taken hold.

There are no reliable estimates for the number of addicts in Gaza, a conservative society of 2 million where it is considered shameful to admit to such a problem. A 2017 study by the World Health Organization estimated that 10,047 males over the age of 15 were "high-risk drug users." Local experts believe the number is much higher.