Cognitive Impairment and Tramadol Dependence

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Background and Objective

Cognitive impairment is one of the consequences of substance abuse. Tramadol abuse is a public health problem in Egypt. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence and correlates of cognitive impairment among tramadol-abuse patients and control subjects.


This study included 100 patients with tramadol abuse and 100 control subjects (matched for age, sex, and education) who were recruited from Zagazig University Hospital, Egypt. Patients were divided into 2 groups: patients who used tramadol only (tramadol-alone group) and patients who used tramadol and other substances (polysubstance group). The participants were interviewed using Montreal Cognitive Assessment test and had urine screening for drugs.


Twenty-four percent of the cases used tramadol alone, whereas the remaining used tramadol and other substances, mainly cannabis (66%) and benzodiazepines (27%). Tramadol-abuse patients were about 3 times more likely to have cognitive impairment than control subjects (81% vs 28%). Tramadol-alone patients were more than 2 times more likely to have cognitive impairment than control subjects (67% vs 28%). Cognitive impairment was significantly associated with polysubstance abuse. There was no association between cognitive impairment and sociodemographic or clinical factors.


Cognitive impairment occurs commonly among tramadol-abuse patients. Memory impairment is the most common cognitive domain to be affected. There is a significant association between cognitive impairment and polysubstance abuse.

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