Tramadol Addiction

Tramadol is a prescription opioid intended to treat moderate to severe pain. But just like other narcotics, tramadol can be highly addictive.

Tramadol addiction does not simply emerge out of nowhere — there are many reasons for addiction. Like all substance use disorders, tramadol addiction is a disease, and several underlying factors 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 addictive properties of the opioid drug make it a viable concern.

Tramadol was first approved for use in the U.S. in 1995. It wasn’t long before reports of abuse began pouring into the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Today, Americans receive tens of millions of tramadol prescriptions each year — some of them develop an addiction as a result.

Tramadol addiction can emerge quickly and easily, whether the medication is used as prescribed or intentionally abused. A tramadol high is powerful, rendering the user euphoric and temporarily free of physical pain. In many cases of opioid abuse, people use tramadol as an alternative to other opiates such as heroin.

People often refer to drugs of abuse using slang terms. However, there are no widely recognized street names for tramadol — it may simply be called a painkiller when it is being bought or sold illicitly.

Tramadol is a prescription opioid medication that is sometimes used in a medical setting to treat moderate to severe pain. Marketed under brand names that include Ultram and Ultracet, tramadol has been available in the U.S. since 1995. Today, tens of thousands of Americans receive prescriptions for this drug each year.

However, tramadol use can result in addiction — even when you take it in accordance with your doctor’s orders. If you are struggling with tramadol abuse, remember that recovery is possible. There is life after drug addiction.

Tramadol Addicition
Like other narcotics, the real dangers lie in tramadol’s habit-forming potential. When you take a tramadol pill, your brain is partially relieved of its capacity to register pain. Instead, “feel good” chemicals like serotonin flood your brain, evoking pleasant emotions.

Over time, your brain expects to receive these chemicals and even carves out new pathways on which the neurotransmitters can travel. This sudden deprivation of chemicals makes the brain suffer tremendously. That is why it is so difficult to stop using tramadol and other opioid drugs, making it easy to have a tramadol addiction.

The length of time it takes to get addicted to tramadol varies. This is dependent upon:

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

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

Tramadol is a controlled substance because of its addictive properties. However, the drug was not controlled from the day it entered the U.S. market in 1995 until 2014. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that tramadol be re-classified due to its addictive properties.

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, their use can still cause addiction.

Whether or not you are abusing tramadol, the drug can affect your body and mind. The longer you continue using this drug, the greater your chances of suffering harmful effects of tramadol abuse. Data from multiple American studies of chronic nonmalignant pain report the following effects of tramadol use, in order of decreasing prevalence:

  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Somnolence (a sleeping disturbance)
  • Severe skin itching
  • CNS stimulation, including extreme anxiety and hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
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 and tramadol.

Concurrent abuse of other drugs (especially alcohol and other CNS depressants, including opioids) increases the risk of death due to tramadol overdose.

You should avoid tramadol if you have ever abused another opioid — you are at a higher risk for addiction to the drug. Due to potential worsening of central nervous system and respiratory depressions, you should not take tramadol if you are currently using any of the following drugs:

  • Alcohol
  • Hypnotics
  • Narcotics
  • Centrally acting analgesics
  • Opioids
  • Psychotropic drugs
As is the case with other narcotics, taking too much tramadol can cause serious problems — even death.

Symptoms of 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 any additional breathing assistance that is 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 after a tramadol overdose. In this case, doctors may require a defibrillator to revive the patient.

The opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone may help in some cases, but cannot always prevent tramadol overdose death. Also, naloxone increases the risk of seizure in this case.

Tramadol Pills
Drug addiction is sweeping across America at epidemic levels — and opioids like tramadol are major contributors. From 1999–2015, opioid deaths nearly tripled. In 2015, the number of Americans who died from narcotics had skyrocketed to 33,091.

Synthetic opioids like tramadol have proven increasingly dangerous. Tramadol abuse-related ER visits increased more than threefold from from 2005–2011, involved in 21,649 ER visits in 2011.

Tramadol Addiction Stories

Addiction to tramadol is real — many men, women, and young people across the world can attest to that fact.

Thirty-something mom-of-two Jina Kauser opened up to The Daily Mirror about her struggle with tramadol addiction. She had originally obtained a prescription from her doctor, but eventually found that she could not get through the day without tramadol — tolerance had developed. For several years, Jina’s life was consumed with tramadol — she would do almost anything to get it, regardless of the health consequences. Fortunately, Jina eventually admitted that she had addiction disease. She sought professional help, and today she is in recovery.

Addiction is a disease that requires medical intervention. You may be addicted to tramadol if you cannot stop using this drug despite your desire and efforts to wean off of it. If you find yourself in this situation, it is time to seek help.

Tramadol is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. It is most commonly administered in tablet form. A tramadol tablet is usually a small white oval which bears a unique imprint code based on that pill’s dosage and type. Here are the available forms of tramadol:

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

The most popular brand name for tramadol are Ultram and Ultracet. Other brand names include:

  • ConZip
  • Ryzolt
  • Rybix ODT

To avoid suspicion, many drug dealers and users may refer to tramadol and its brand names with street names, including:

  • Ultras
  • Chill Pills
  • OxyContin Lite
Tramadol is dispensed in a medical setting for acute or chronic pain. For example, some people suffer long-term injuries from a car accident and are given this drug to manage their pain.

Tramadol must be used under close medical supervision, especially if you use any other drugs or herbal remedies. This medication can interact harmfully with other drugs, such as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Also, tramadol detox must be done under medical supervision because withdrawal symptoms can be bothersome.

The recommended dosage for tramadol varies significantly depending on a variety of factors, including but not limited to 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 you have a condition that causes long-term pain, your doctor may prescribe up to 400 mg of tramadol per day.

Some people take the drug for years on end, increasing their risk of tramadol addiction.

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“Tramadol: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus – Health Information from the National Library of Medicine, 15 Sept. 2016, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695011.html. Accessed 10 Jan. 2017.

“Drug Scheduling.” DEA, www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml. Accessed 10 Jan. 2017.

Office of Diversion Control, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section. “Tramadol.” DEA Diversion Control Division, July 2014, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/tramadol.pdf. Accessed 10 Jan. 2017.

Bush, Donna M. “Emergency Department Visits for Drug Misuse or Abuse Involving the Pain Medication Tramadol.” SAMHSA, 14 May 2015, www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_1966/ShortReport-1966.pdf.

Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. “Rules – 2014 – Final Rule: Placement of Tramadol Into Schedule IV.” DEA Diversion Control Division, 2 July 2014, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2014/fr0702.htm. Accessed 12 Jan. 2017.

Strange, Kelly. “I was a train wreck.” Mirror Online: The Intelligent Tabloid, 24 July 2012, www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/painkillers-addiction-how-mum-even-1156720.

“ULTRAM- Tramadol Hydrochloride Tablet, Coated.” DailyMed, National Institutes of Health, 28 July 2014, dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=34ef3f2e-883d-431e-a6cd-b351a0d2c9bb. Accessed 12 Jan. 2017.

Tramadol Addiction was last modified: April 4th, 2017 by The Recovery Village