Classified as an opioid painkiller, Tramadol is a drug that is used primarily to treat any moderate pain. Unlike other prescription opioids, it has less potential of forming a habit of abuse among users. However, it can still push users to develop addiction particularly to its “high” effects.
The risk of development of addiction is high among those users who abuse or misuse tramadol. There are even cases where users become addicted to the drug even if they only follow directions from their doctor. This is one major reason why tramadol also requires strict supervision and monitoring from doctors. Users should not underestimate the potential harms of tramadol.
When there is prolonged and frequent use of tramadol, people start to develop tolerance to the painkiller. This translates to the desire to take higher doses to feel the effects of the drug. Aside from tolerance, users may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms especially if they don’t stop taking the drug. Depression, irritability and flu-like feelings are some of the symptoms of tramadol withdrawal. Users have to deal with these and must be more willful to complete the process of recovery to truly succeed in overcoming addiction to tramadol.
A user has physical addiction when there is already withdrawal and tolerance of tramadol. Uncontrollable tramadol use, relationship problems as a result of drug use, and frequent cravings are the other signs of addiction to the drug. When these symptoms start to manifest, people close to the user must take the necessary measures to prevent further abuse and addiction to the drug.
Cathy C., a user who recovered from addiction to the painkiller, shared her experience and said that she used to wake up every morning with heartache or anxiety. She had to take the drug just to stay away from these sufferings. She said that she felt relieved during the days she didn’t have heartache and anxiety. She shared that she had to experience these for a longer time especially that there is easy access to tramadol. In her recovery, support from the people that matter to her proved to be essential and helpful.
Better Understanding of Tramadol
As mentioned, Tramadol is meant for moderate pain because it is a prescription opioid painkiller. Often times, it is used to treat chronic pain that is a result of fibromyalgia and other related conditions. It is also used to treat pain that is a result of surgery. With these uses, it must be very easy to regulate the use of tramadol. However, people still get access to the drug even if their reason for purchase is to self-medicate themselves or to take larger doses of the drug.
The most common strength of Tramadol available is as a 50 mg tablet, which is taken through the mouth. The known brand names of tramadol are:
- Ultram ER
On the other hand, the common tramadol street names are ultras, chill pills and trammies. Because it is a narcotic painkiller, it has a high potential of becoming dangerous when taken in large doses.
Tramadol is able to relieve pain because it binds itself to the brain’s opioid receptors. It may be effective in the treatment of mild pains but it is one of the painkillers that has least potency. Even so, tramadol is still an addictive drug especially when it is taken for a prolonged period of time.
Abuse and Effects of Tramadol
Unlike other opioids, tramadol has less potential of becoming addictive. This is why it is prescribed most of the time. Under the Controlled Substances Act, tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV drug. The other more risky painkillers are classified as Schedule II substance.
The euphoric and calming effects of tramadol are the major reasons why it is constantly abused. Users who abuse the substance usually feel happy and relaxed. Users that suffer from severe pain take the drug in higher doses.
Users who frequently take tramadol have the tendency to get addicted to the drug. This may push them to graduate from tramadol and look for painkillers that are stronger just to satisfy their cravings for “high” feelings.
A depressant of the central nervous system (CNS), tramadol can slow down heart and lung function. When taken in large doses, tramadol has the ability to stop the user’s breathing and may later on lead to death. Tramadol overdose has symptoms such as:
- Weak muscles
- Pinpoint pupils
- Clammy or sweating skin
- Slow heart rate
- Respiratory depression
- Abnormally low blood pressure
Common Combinations of Tramadol Drug
There are times that tramadol is abused together with other drugs. It is called polydrug use and produces a stronger “high”. The typical case involves users combining tramadol with other drugs or substances such as alcohol. This is done to increase the chances of self-medicating or the “high” effect. The commonly used drugs as a combination to tramadol are:
- Cold medicine
- Sleeping pills, benzodiazepines and other sedatives
- Other painkillers
There is a higher risk of developing tramadol addiction when it is taken with other drugs or substances. Being a CNS depressant, tramadol can be potentially dangerous. When combined with opioids, sedative hypnotics, and alcohol, tramadol can be even more dangerous. These mixtures of substances may lead to the depression of the respiratory system. Moreover, it can further increase the risk of overdose or seizure.
Statistics on Tramadol Abuse
In a 2005 study, it was found that around 84 percent of users who took very high doses of tramadol experienced seizures within just a 24-hour period. While in 2013, more or less 1.5 million users have, for the first time, abused painkillers such as tramadol. In addition, the years 2012 and 2013 have seen more than 60 percent of people that used tramadol and other painkillers that they were able to get from a relative or a friend.
There are cases where there are dangerous and intense withdrawal symptoms due to addiction to tramadol. To successfully overcome addiction to tramadol, the safest methods are treatments and detoxifications that are medically assisted.