Tramadol is an analgesic synthetic opioid medication used to relieve moderate to severe chronic pain. It works in the central nervous system to alter how the body responds to pain.
The side effects of long-term tramadol use can lead to addiction and withdrawal. If you or a loved one live with opioid addiction, professional treatment options are available.
What Is Tramadol Prescribed For?
Tramadol is a prescription opioid painkiller prescribed under the brand names:
- Ultram ER
- Ultracet (in combination with acetaminophen)
It works like other severe pain medications, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, by binding to opioid receptors in your brain and blocking pain signals. Tramadol can also increase the effects of serotonin and norepinephrine, hormones involved in pain perception.
While the opioid content of tramadol may be less than other prescription drugs, because it’s derived from the opiate codeine, it’s highly addictive and can result in tramadol dependence.
Is Tramadol A Controlled Substance?
Tramadol is considered a schedule IV controlled substance by the FDA due to its addictive qualities. Schedule IV drugs have a lower risk of dependency but can still be addictive.
Signs Of Tramadol Addiction
There are a number of different signs that someone is addicted to tramadol. The most common signs of opioid addiction include:
- visiting multiple doctors to obtain more tramadol
- compulsive use of tramadol
- neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school
- social problems related to tramadol use
- mood swings
- excessive drowsiness
- using tramadol without a prescription
- difficulty concentrating
- impaired coordination
- taking high doses to experience the same effects
- hiding or leaving around empty prescription bottles
- spending large amounts of money on tramadol
- continuing to use tramadol despite negative effects
Side Effects Of Tramadol Abuse
Abusing tramadol can lead to adverse side effects. The severity of these side effects depends on a variety of factors like your body composition, how well your organs function, and other substances you may be using.
Side effects of tramadol may include:
- nausea and vomiting
- depression and anxiety
- pinpoint pupils
- respiratory depression
- changes in appetite
- slurred speech
- impaired coordination
- trouble concentrating
- muscle aches
- serotonin syndrome
- low blood pressure
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal from tramadol usually lasts anywhere from 5-7 days and can be just as harsh as the side effects of abuse. Those who take higher doses of the drug and for longer periods of time may have a longer period of withdrawal.
Common withdrawal symptoms may include:
- stomach cramps
- muscle aches
More severe symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- numbness and tingling
- extreme anxiety
- panic attacks
While craving tramadol is considered a sign of psychological dependence, the development of a tolerance for tramadol, and the withdrawal symptoms of not taking it, are considered signs of physical dependence and potentially addiction.
Tramadol Addiction Treatment
Treatment options for tramadol addiction include medical support for the physical symptoms of withdrawal and therapy for behavioral or cognitive issues.
Because the side effects of withdrawal can be so harsh, it’s best to not stop using tramadol “cold turkey.”
Having a doctor or other medical professional help you through the initial detox phase, either with inpatient or outpatient care, can ensure that if any severe withdrawal symptoms come up, they’re dealt with immediately.
A medical professional can also provide medication like antidepressants or benzodiazepines to help manage some of the more serious withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can take several days or several weeks.
Therapy is just as important a form of drug addiction treatment as getting the drug out of your system. With the help of a therapist, a person with a substance abuse issue can have help recognizing harmful thoughts and behaviors they have and work to change them.
Some therapies that work for those struggling with opioid addiction include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- motivational interviewing
- family therapy
- peer support group participation
- exercise, nutrition, and other supportive treatments
If you’re looking for treatment for yourself or a loved one addicted, there are a number of different treatment programs available. Please call our helpline today to learn more about how we address tramadol addiction at our treatment facilities.