Tramadol Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

What is tramadol addiction? Tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV controlled drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, as it is an opioid sedative drug prescribed to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. It acts on your central nervous system, monoamine reuptake system, and opioid receptors to suppress pain feelings and enhance a sensation of relaxation and calmness.

Regular interference of tramadol with your brain’s chemical receptors can lead to physical changes in most of the structures and pathways of your brain. Also, taking this drug for longer or in large amounts than prescribed or using it in combination with alcohol and other drugs can result in serious health issues such as addiction or even death.

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What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is an artificial opioid drug prescribed to relieve pain. It is prescribed for pain caused by ongoing conditions, like fibromyalgia, or surgery. As an opioid agonist medication, the medication’s effectiveness is believed to be 10% that of morphine. It commonly comes in 50 gm dosage and is taken orally.

tramadol addiction pain pills

(Example of Tramadol Pain Pills)

Other brand names of tramadol include:

  • ConZip
  • Ryzolt
  • Ultram
  • Ultram ER
  • Ultracet

Common street names for this drug include:

  • Chill pills
  • Ultras
  • Trammies

Tramadol was first used in the 1970s to treat post-working pain in Germany. It was approved for medical use in the United Kingdom in 1994, and in 1995, it was approved in the United States.

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Is Tramadol Addictive?

Originally, it was thought that the risk of addiction to and dependency on the drug was very low, but recent data show that its abuse is on increase. In 2016, almost 19M people aged 12 and above reported using this drug in the past 12 months and over 1.5M reported misusing it in past 12 months. This shows that tramadol is highly addictive, especially if taken at extremely high doses or for an extended duration than prescribed.

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How Addictive is Tramadol?

Some recent studies have reviled that high dosages of tramadol have similar side effects to oxycodone, an opioid pain reliever, with a documented risk of addiction and dependence.

Opioid abusers that took high doses of tramadol stated that it gave them a pleasant “high” that was like codeine’s and somewhat less thrilling than oxycodone.

Subjects in other studies were given a dose often prescribed by doctors, and they rated the medicine as pleasing and something they would want to “take again”.

What are Symptoms of Tramadol Addiction?

People often abuse this drug because it leads to a sense of euphoria or extreme relaxation. Those experiencing severe pain also tend to misuse the prescription pain pill by taking higher doses than recommended when trying to treat their conditions. A person suffering from a tramadol misuse or overdose might experience the symptoms below.

Symptoms of addiciton:

  • Sleepiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Low heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak muscles
  • Seizures
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Unconsciousness
  • Small pupils

If you or your loved one is taking tramadol and is suffering from these signs or other symptoms, immediate medical help is needed.

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Who Abuses Tramadol?

While everyone can become addicted to tramadol, there are specific groups of people who are more likely to succumb to its addiction.

Military Veterans/Personnel – Although members of the armed forces are less likely to abuse illegal drugs than the public, they are regrettably more likely to misuse prescription painkillers.

College Students/Teens – College students and teenagers are among the biggest groups who misuse prescription medications. This is because they are easy to access, very affordable when you compare them to most street drugs and are safer than outlawed drugs because they are prescribed by doctors.

Chronic Pain Sufferers – A person who suffers from a painful condition which tramadol is prescribed for might be more likely to misuse it and become addicted. Addiction is also a risk for individuals who do not use the medication exactly as prescribed.

who abuses tramadol

(Addiction Affects People From all Walks of Life)

What are the Effects of Tramadol Use?

When prescribed by doctors, the desired effect of taking this medicine is consistent pain relief. However, tramadol use can have undesired side effects which include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite

In people who use this drug for non-medical reasons, these side effects might also be signs of drug addiction.

Tramadol also surges brain levels of the norepinephrine and neurotransmitters, like the changes caused by antidepressant drugs. Users have stated that such rises make them take even higher doses of the medicine – or take it more regularly – than had been indicated.

In addition to its opioid-like effects listed above and its mood-enhancing and euphoric effects sought by abusers, taking the drug for non-medical reasons or taking it in any other manner than prescribed by doctors can have dangerous side effects. These include irregular sleep patterns leading to insomnia, and increased risk of seizures or convulsions.

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Withdrawal Symptoms of Tramadol Addiction?

Traditional opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone rise sensation of pleasure and might produce a “high” when misused or taken in higher doses than recommended. Tramadol works slightly differently by blocking neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin from being reabsorbed into the system in addition to activating opioid receptors.

Therefore, tramadol withdrawal can take two forms: atypical opioid withdrawal syndrome or traditional opioid withdrawal syndrome.  Opioid withdrawal usually has two major phases: early withdrawal and late withdrawal. The early stage begins when the substance leaves the bloodstream while the late stage starts a few days after cesation.

Early withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Tearing up
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Fast breathing
  • Hypertension
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Racing heart rate
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia

Late withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Chills and goosebumps
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping and stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Pupil dilation
  • Depression
  • Drug cravings
  • Depersonalization
  • Difficulties thinking clearly and concentrating
tramadol-withdrawal-symptoms

(Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms)

Tramadol has a reasonably short half-life. The World Health Organization reports that the drug is quickly absorbed into the blood, with its effectiveness peaking in one to four hours. The effects of extended-release might last for hours, peaking in four to six hours. In general, tramadol withdrawal signs are believed to start within 12 hours of the last use.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that 90% of people undergoing tramadol withdrawal experience traditional opioid addiction withdrawal signs while the other 10% may experience extreme paranoia, panic attacks, anxiety, severe confusion, numbness or tingling, and hallucinations.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above it is important to seek medical help immediately. Detoxing from any prescription drug can be very uncomfortable and dangerous if done on your own. It is important to get professional help at a medical detox center to ensure that withdrawal symptoms are addressed correctly.

Treatment for Tramadol Addiction

Tramadol addiction and abuse present most of the challenges of addictions to other drugs and can be treated by the same rehabs and services. Medically supervised detox from the drug is highly recommended to minimize the risks presented by its withdrawal syndrome. To get immediate help in finding a treatment program feel free to call our 24 hour addiction hotline: 877-959-7271 or fill out one of the many forms on our website. Our addiction hotline is staffed with professionals who have helped many people struggling with pill addiction get sober. They will walk you through the intake process and answer any questions that you may have about addiction and addiction treatment. Take the first step and reach out today!

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