Strict adherence to pharmacological dosage regimens is a prerequisite to the success of most treatments, particularly for patients in drug abuse programs. The compliance of tramadol, an atypical non-scheduled narcotic analgesic, using objective method has not been adequately studied in an Indian setting.
To evaluate the compliance and pattern of drug use among opioid-dependent subjects prescribed tramadol based on urinalysis.
Fifty male opioid-dependent patients (ICD 10), seeking treatment at a tertiary de-addiction treatment centre of North India on tramadol prescription for atleast past four weeks were included. Self-reported substance use was recorded using semi-structured proforma. Ten ml of urine was collected for the assessment of compliance of tramadol of other substance use (morphine, buprenorphine, dextropropoxyphene, pentazocine, cannabis, benzodiazepines, pheniramine). All these drugs were analyzed using the immunoassay-based Cassette test and Gas Chromatography in human urine.
Mean age of the participants was 42.8 years and the mean duration of opioid use was 15.9years. The urine specimen of all subjects tested positive for tramadol. Urinalysis revealed benzodiazepines, cannabis, and pheniramine to be the most common substances of use in this population. It was seen that agreement of self-reporting and urine test results was good for morphine (κ = 0.558) and cannabis (κ = 0.312) and was poor for buprenorphine, pentazocine, and pheniramine.
The study demonstrates the continued use of several illicit or non-prescribed medications in a medication-assisted opioid treatment population. The results affirm the reliability of urinalysis as an adjunct for testing compliance in such a population.

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