Tramadol Addiction and Abuse

Tramadol is a prescription opioid intended to treat moderate to severe pain. However, just like other narcotics, tramadol can be highly addictive. Tramadol addiction does not emerge out of nowhere — it takes a considerable amount of effort and time for an addiction to occur. Like all substance use disorders, a drug addiction is seen as a disease, and several underlying factors can make some people more susceptible to developing an addiction than others.
Doctors prescribe tramadol to treat moderate to severe pain. Arthritis patients, in particular, take tramadol to alleviate the pain associated with the disease. The drug is also used with individuals who suffer from long term injuries and need a way to manage their pain. However, the addictive properties of the opioid make it a legitimate concern.

Tramadol must be used under close medical supervision, especially if any other drugs or herbal remedies are used on a regular basis. This medication can interact harmfully with other drugs, such as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is also highly recommended to only attempt a tramadol detox under medical supervision because withdrawal symptoms can be particularly uncomfortable.

Marketed under brand names that include Ultram and Ultracet, tramadol has been available in the United States since 1995. Each year, tens of thousands of Americans receive prescriptions for this drug to control even the slightest bit of pain.

However, regular use can result in tramadol addiction — even if is properly taken as prescribed by a medical professional.

Tramadol Addicition
Tramadol is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. However, the common way it’s administered is as a tablet. This tablet form  is usually a small white oval which bears a unique imprint code based on the dosage and the kind of pill that it is. Some of the known forms of the drug include:

  •   Tablet
  •   Tablet, Extended-Release
  •   Tablet, Disintegrating
  •   Suspension
  •   Capsule, Extended-Release

The drug can also be administered under a different name. The most popular brand name for tramadol are Ultram and Ultracet. Other brand names include ConZip, Ryzolt and Rybix ODT. The names of the drug may vary, but regardless of their name they are all designed for  the same purpose.

To avoid suspicion, many drug dealers refer to tramadol with nicknames such as ultras, chill pills and OxyContin Lite. These names are only used to describe the drug when they are being sold and distributed illegally and they are not actual brand names for tramadol.

Just like with other narcotics, the real danger is in tramadol’s habit-forming potential. When a person takes a tramadol pill, their brain is partially relieved of its capacity to register pain. Instead, “feel good” chemicals like serotonin flood the brain, evoking pleasant feelings. Also, the drug provides instant pain relief, which is its main draw to many people.. As  people rely on the drug to alleviate their pain, a tolerance can build requiring people to take higher doses to experience the same amount of relief.

Over time, the brain becomes dependent on receiving these chemicals and even carves out new pathways on which the neurotransmitters can travel. This sudden deprivation of chemicals makes the brain suffer tremendously, which is why it is so difficult to stop using tramadol. but so easy for people to develop an addiction. The length of time it takes to develop tramadol addiction varies from person to person. This variation is dependent upon:

  •   Drug dosage
  •   Duration of use
  •   User’s genetic susceptibility to addiction

Some people become mentally addicted to tramadol the first time they use it, while others may take several months, or even years, before an addiction to the drug develops.

A way to tell when an addiction exists  is when the person using the drug takes it without caring for the negative side effects and how they impact their well-being. If too much of the drug is taken, an overdose may occur. The symptoms of an overdose can be very severe, and can even result in death. Symptoms of a tramadol overdose may include:

  •   Trouble breathing
  •   Slow heartbeat
  •   Decreased pupil size
  •   Fatigue
  •   Unconsciousness
  •   Coma
  •   Weakness
  •   Clammy skin

Tramadol overdose treatment efforts usually begin by helping a patient breathe. Doctors may need to open up a patient’s blocked airway, then provide additional breathing assistance if necessary, such as controlled ventilation and oxygen administration. If lung edema occurs, doctors may administer medications to constrict blood vessels. Cardiac arrest may also occur following a tramadol overdose. In this case, doctors may require a defibrillator to revive the patient.

Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, may help in some cases, but cannot always prevent tramadol overdose death. Naloxone is regarded as an opioid antidote, meaning it will stop the symptoms of an overdose immediately. However, the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced during detox present themselves right away. Unless a form of opioids is in a person’s system, the drug will not generate negative reactions. Naloxone is not a medication that one can gain an addiction to or get high from.

When managing a drug addiction, it is important to seek professional help rather than attempt to rid the body of the drug, independently. Going through a proper treatment facility allows each individual to get personalized treatment depending on the severity of their addiction. Working with a team of medical professionals allows doctors and therapists to determine the most beneficial form of treatment to make the detoxification process as comfortable and safe as possible.

Some people attempt to detox on their own rather than go to a professional setting. This is not recommended by doctors as it increases the chance of severe withdrawal symptoms to occur quickly and allows the possibility of setbacks to occur. When a person chooses to treat an addiction with the help of physicians and therapists, medication might be prescribed to lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

During treatment at an accredited facility, patients may have the opportunity to take advantage of multiple resources to help treat their addictions. When entering rehab, patients are evaluated to determine the severity of the addiction and medical professionals then establish  a plan to best handle treating the addiction. Following the establishment of a treatment plan, the detoxification process begins. During this time, withdrawal symptoms are experienced but the severity of the symptoms depends on the intensity of the addiction. Once detox is complete, patients typically enter an individualized rehabilitation program that is determined by the treatment team.

The Recovery Village offers inpatient, outpatient, intensive inpatient, and partial hospitalization programs throughout their facilities. These programs can help patients learn and acquire the necessary skills needed to function daily without the use of tramadol.  Patients then enter aftercare to continue to practice implementing their newly learned skills into their everyday life. Patients also may be encouraged to live in a sober-living community or attend a 12 step program to ensure sobriety, along with regularly scheduled therapy sessions.

The Recovery Village has facilities in Florida, Maryland, Washington, Ohio and Colorado. Each location offers a variety of different amenities and programs to make each patient’s stay enjoyable and comfortable. The Recovery Village locations include:

  • The Recovery Village: This Florida location provides patients the opportunity to learn recovery-positive skills through art and music therapy, and some patients may have the opportunity to work with trained therapy dogs. This location offers outpatient, partial hospitalization, and inpatient treatment.
  • The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake: Our Colorado location has basketball, tennis and volleyball courts so patients can stay active during their stay. This center offers inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment options.
  • The Recovery Village Columbus: The facility in Ohio provides activities for patients to enjoy, such as a swimming pool, shuffleboard and a rec room. This facility offers outpatient, partial hospitalization and inpatient programs.
  • The Recovery Village Ridgefield: The Washington facility has a miniature golf course on the property, as well as horseshoes and badminton for patients to partake in while they receive their treatment. This location focuses mainly on outpatient and aftercare programs.
  • IAFF Center of Excellence: This unique facility in Maryland assists firefights and first responders who struggle with tramadol addiction or mental health issues. This center offers numerous outdoor activities to keep patients in shape when they return to their careers after treatment. Inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient programs are offered to patients.

With eight locations overall, people seeking treatment have the opportunity to find a center that will best fit their needs and better benefit their recovery. If seeking treatment through one of our centers is not an option, try looking at our online facility locator to find a center that works for you and can best help you manage your addiction.

Tramadol addiction can develop easily, whether the medication is used as prescribed or intentionally misused. A tramadol high is powerful, and gives an individual intense feelings of euphoria and temporarily freeing them of physical pain. The addiction grows stronger as people consume more of the drug in order to maintain the strong high that was experienced the first time they took the drug. In many cases of opioid abuse, people use tramadol as an alternative to other opiates, such as heroin.

When someone is high off of tramadol, the symptoms can include:

  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Increased heart rate
  • Euphoric feelings
  • Distorted sense of perception
  • Poor muscle movement

The recommended dosage for tramadol varies significantly, and dependson a variety of factors, including: age, existing medical conditions, and the type of pain experienced. However, doctors usually recommend that adults take 50–100 mg every 4–6 hours. If a patient has a condition that causes long-term pain, the prescribing doctor may administer up to 400 mg of tramadol per day. Depending on each individual situation, some people take the drug for years on end which increases their risk of forming a tramadol addiction.

When combined with other substances and medications, tramadol can cause significant problems. For example, in 2011, American emergency rooms saw 15,475 patients who had used tramadol in combination with other drugs, with almost one-third of those visits involving benzodiazepines like Xanax. Concurrent abuse of other drugs (especially alcohol and other CNS depressants, including opioids) increases the risk of suffering from a tramadol overdose and dying.

Due to potential worsening of central nervous system and respiratory depressions, tramadol should not be used in conjunction with any of the following substances:

  •   Alcohol
  •   Hypnotics
  •   Narcotics
  •   Centrally acting analgesics
  •   Opioids
  •   Psychotropic drugs
Tramadol is considered a controlled substance because of its addictive properties. However, the drug was not controlled from the day it entered the United States market in 1995. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that tramadol be reclassified due to how severely addictive the drug can be.

In 2014, after four years of exploration and research into tramadol, the DEA decided to reclassify the drug as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, alongside pills like Xanax, Ambien, Valium, Ativan, and others. Though Schedule IV drugs like tramadol carry a lower risk for dependency than the most strictly controlled substances, the excessive use of the drug can still form an addiction.

The Recovery Village offers numerous facilities around the country to help individuals looking to overcome their substance use disorder. Each center provide an abundance of different programs to better assist with the recovery process. Programs can include one-on-one therapy, group counseling and recreational activities as a therapeutic means to help patients gain the necessary skills to return to their life, free of addiction. Begin your treatment now, call one of our representatives today. Each call is free and confidential. Start the journey to a drug-free life today.

Tramadol Pills
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Office of Diversion Control, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section. “Tramadol.” DEA Diversion Control Division, July 2014, Accessed 10 Jan. 2017.

Bush, Donna M. “Emergency Department Visits for Drug Misuse or Abuse Involving the Pain Medication Tramadol.” SAMHSA, 14 May 2015,

Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. “Rules – 2014 – Final Rule: Placement of Tramadol Into Schedule IV.” DEA Diversion Control Division, 2 July 2014, Accessed 12 Jan. 2017.

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