By checking himself into a rehabilitation clinic, Ant McPartlin has shone a spotlight on the serious social problem of prescription drug addiction. The well-known presenter, half of TV duo Ant and Dec, blamed depression and chronic pain for his addiction to the painkiller Tramadol.

He started taking the drug 2 years ago to deal with the pain from a knee injury, which intensified after an operation went wrong.

Tramadol attaches to receptors in the brain to change the perception of pain and it is believed that this helps block pain signals in the spinal cord and hence is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain in adults.

It is a Class C drug and should only be dispensed by pharmacists with a doctor’s prescription; however, it is also sold illegally by street dealers. Addiction to the painkiller is well-known and accounted for 240 deaths in Britain in 2014 (compared with 247 for cocaine and 952 for heroin/morphine the same year).

The effects of Tramadol include feelings of warmth and well-being, relaxation and sleepiness. It can also cause drowsiness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, confusion, diarrhoea and dizziness.

By talking about his issues, Ant hopes to encourage others to seek help if needed. “The first step is to admit to yourself that you need help. I feel like I have let a lot of people down, and for that I am truly sorry”, said the TV frontman.

AlphaBiolabs can test for Tramadol use using state-of-the-art drug testing equipment and processes. It can also detect Tramadol in hair to quantify use over a period of time to show if a subject has reduced their intake or stopped taking the drug.

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