How Addictive is Tramadol?
Tramadol isn’t one of those drugs you hear about in the news, so people may wonder, “Is tramadol addictive? Quick answer: yes, it is. Keep reading to learn all about tramadol.
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a prescription pain medication that works in a similar way to other synthetic opioids. Tramadol blocks the pain receptors in the brain, helping to manage moderate to severe pain. It also works as an SNRI antidepressant, as it inhibits the uptake of neurotransmitters.
Tramadol is prescribed for treating pain that results from diabetes, injuries, or stroke. It is also prescribed for chronic pain conditions. Tramadol is also used in vet medicine as well.
Among the opioid class of drugs, tramadol is thought to be less prone to abuse and addiction. For this reason, it has given a DEA Schedule IV status, instead of a Schedule II status like other opioids. Tramadol is about as potent as codeine, but has only about one-tenth the strength of morphine.
Even so, tramadol use can result in a substance use disorder. Not only does tramadol pose the danger of addiction or dependence, it also known to cause several adverse health effects.
Tramadol comes in standard and extended release options. It’s also sold as a version that combines tramadol with acetaminophen under the brand name Ultracet.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
Tramadol is, like all opioids, an addictive drug. In fact, the FDA has placed a Black box warning on the drug. At the top of the list of possible risks is “Addiction, abuse, and misuse.”
For years, doctors have been prescribing tramadol for pain management, assuming that it had a lower risk for addiction. Although it was designed to be a safer alternative to more potent pain relievers, tramadol abuse and addiction still occurs. Tramadol has the same potential to induce substance-seeking behaviors as other opioid drugs.
As a person’s tolerance to the tramadol increases, the need to increase the dosage also rises. This occurs because the brain has made adjustments and needs more tramadol to achieve the desired effects.
Signs of Tramadol Addiction
There is a difference between addiction and dependence. Someone who is prescribed tramadol for pain management will become dependent on this drug over time. This means that his or her system will depend on the daily dose, and without it they will have withdrawals.
These patients are not abusing the drug, but their body has become dependent on it. Someone can develop an addiction once they are dependent on it, however, which is called an opioid use disorder.
Tramadol addiction is more about the recreational use of the drug. The person may have a psychological addiction to the drug, and will exhibit certain actions along those lines. These behaviors reveal the compulsive aspects of addiction. Some signs of tramadol addiction include:
- Doctor shopping to obtain more refills.
- Buying the pills on the black market.
- Taking higher doses of the drug than prescribed.
- Being obsessed with obtaining the drug and taking the drug.
- Stealing pills from friends.
- Not following through on responsibilities due to the tramadol abuse.
- Lying about the tramadol problem.
- Still taking the tramadol despite the negative impact on one’s life.
- Using the drug to get high.
Some of the effects of a tramadol addiction include:
- Mood swings.
- Loss of appetite.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Chronic constipation.
- Sleep issues.
- Dry mouth.
Another danger is to take tramadol with other drugs. When tramadol is taken with NSAIDSs, other opioids, or antidepressants it can cause seizures and breathing problems.
Tramadol detox can be very uncomfortable and should be attempted only under a doctor’s watch. A doctor is likely to schedule a tapered dosing protocol, and then monitor the symptoms over a period of a few weeks.
The detox timeline will look something like this:
Days 1-3: Onset of withdrawal symptoms including sweating, feelings of pins and needles, nervousness, nausea, palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, and drug cravings.
Days 4-7: Drug cravings persist, along with insomnia, mental confusion, and blurred vision.
Days 8-14: Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and irrational thoughts persist.
After Day 14: Sleep disturbances, irritability, and depression may continue.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, can occur, which are symptoms that may persist for many months. The PAWS symptoms include restlessness, sleep problems, and dysphoria.
Breaking Tramadol Addiction
To continue on the recovery journey, you will enroll in a residential drug treatment program. The duration of your treatment is based on how severe the tramadol addiction is, but is about 30-90 days.
While in treatment you will engage in therapies, classes, meetings, and activities during a given week. Programs are designed to help the person break the compulsion to use tramadol, and to commit to sobriety.
While each rehab is slightly different in scope and will have its own unique approach, most will include these elements:
- Psychotherapy. These are one-on-one talk therapy sessions. Using CBT, DBT, and CM, these evidence-based therapies can help the person make lasting changes in drug-seeking behaviors.
- Family therapy. Family members join their loved one to work out issues that may hamper recovery progress. Family sessions also help them better understand what they can expect in the loved one’s recovery.
- Peer group therapy. Peers in recovery gather in small groups to discuss feelings and topics related to recovery.
- 12-step. The A.A. themes in the 12-step program are woven into the program.
- Education. Classes teach clients the new coping techniques they will need to access in early recovery in order to avoid relapse.
- Holistic. To help manage stress, clients will engage in holistic methods such as meditation and yoga.
- Nutrition and fitness. To help restore health and wellness in recovery, clients will be coached on nutrition and the value of regular exercise.
If you or a loved one is finding that tramadol is addictive, reach out for help today.
Rehabs Malibu Premier Treatment Center for Tramadol Addiction
Rehabs Malibu offers the utmost in luxury rehab treatment for people struggling with a tramadol problem. We feature the most current and effective opioid treatment methods available to help you rise above a tramadol addiction. For more info, please call us today at (424) 425-3541.