Tramadol Addiction | Abuse, Warning Signs, & Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with tramadol addiction, there are many forms of treatment available.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid painkiller and central nervous system depressant that is similar to other opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

It is generally used to treat mild to severe pain and acute and chronic pain. It’s also available under the brand names Ultram, Ultram ER, ConZip, and Ryzolt.

This prescription medication works by binding itself to opioid receptors in the brain, changing how you perceive pain. It also raises the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which is similar to many antidepressants.

Tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means it has a lower potential for abuse than other opioids.

Tramadol Abuse

While tramadol may be less addictive or have less potential for abuse than other opioids, it’s still abused regularly and can lead to cravings.

The drug is primarily abused by either taking more than is recommended by your healthcare provider, by taking it from someone else’s prescription, or by mixing it with alcohol or other substances.

This type of drug abuse can occur because someone wants to get high, relax, or sleep.

Warning Signs Of Tramadol Addiction

There are several warning signs that someone is abusing or addicted to tramadol. Some of the things you should look out for either in yourself or in a loved one include:

  • using it in a way not prescribed
  • taking more than prescribed
  • reporting lost medication in order to get more
  • asking for refills before refills are due
  • using several doctors and/or pharmacies to get more tramadol
  • stealing the drug
  • obsessing over when the next dose is
  • isolating behavior
  • changes in social circles
  • unexplained changes in mood or behaviors
  • taking tramadol even though it leads to negative consequences
  • not meeting deadlines at work or school due to tramadol use
  • giving up hobbies you used to like
  • trying and failing to quit tramadol
  • experiencing withdrawal when you stop taking tramadol

Side Effects Of Tramadol

Whether you take it as prescribed or are abusing it, tramadol comes with a number of different side effects including:

  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
  • shaking
  • hallucinations
  • impaired cognition
  • drowsiness
  • muscle tension
  • heartburn
  • nervousness
  • hives
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness
  • slowed breathing
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • itching

Learn more about Tramadol Side Effects

Tramadol Overdose Symptoms

The abuse of tramadol can increase the risk of overdosing on the drug. An overdose can be life-threatening but also lead to the following symptoms:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • pinpoint pupils
  • muscle weakness
  • clammy skin
  • unconsciousness
  • coma
  • seizures
  • respiratory depression
  • low blood pressure
  • slow heart rate
  • coma
  • slow heartbeat
  • unresponsiveness

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Tramadol

If you’ve been abusing tramadol for a long period of time or taking it in higher doses, there is an increased risk you’ll build a physical dependence on the drug. This means that your body finds it hard to function properly without the drug.

If you do try to quit the pain medication after you’ve built up a tramadol dependence, you may experience a number of tramadol withdrawal symptoms including:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • runny nose
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • seizures
  • confusion
  • paranoia
  • numbness
  • hallucinations
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • excessive yawning
  • chills
  • weakness
  • joint/muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • increased respiratory rate
  • elevated blood pressure
  • rapid heart rate

Learn more about Tramadol Withdrawal

Tramadol Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with tramadol addiction, there are many forms of treatment available.

Treatment may start with detoxification/detox where you are medically supervised while you go through withdrawal. After that, addiction treatment really begins.

Many treatment programs offer a variety of therapies including:

Medication can also be a part of treating tramadol addiction. Methadone is often used to help ease withdrawal symptoms and as a part of a tapering process. Buprenorphine/naloxone and naltrexone are also used to treat dependence and prevent a relapse.

At Northeast Addiction Treatment Center, we offer a variety of substance abuse treatment options including outpatient treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

To learn more about how we can help you on your road to recovery, please call our helpline today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Taking Tramadol Everyday Lead To Addiction?

Tramadol is a prescription opioid pain reliever with a risk of abuse and dependence. Although it may be a less potent painkiller, tramadol affects the same areas of the brain as other opioids.

Taking it everyday or misusing a prescription can lead to tolerance, dependence, and a substance use disorder (SUD).

To learn more, read Is Tramadol Addictive?

What Is Tramadol Prescribed For?

Tramadol is prescribed to treat both acute and chronic pain, including mild, moderate, and severe pain. It is a recommended medication for back pain, osteoarthritis, pain related to kidney disease, and a variety of other conditions.

Learn more about Tramadol Uses & Abuse Potential

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Your System?

Immediate-release tramadol can stay in your system for about 30 hours. The extended-release tramadol can last just over 3 days in your system.

However, when your body processes the drug, it creates metabolites that can be detected for up to 24 hours in blood, 48 hours in saliva, 4 days in urine, and 90 days in hair.

To learn more, read How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Your System?

Is Tramadol An Opioid?

Tramadol is considered to be an opioid pain reliever. However, it is significantly less potent than most other opiate/opioid analgesics and has a slightly different method of action and overall effect.

To learn more, read Is Tramadol An Opioid?

Is Tramadol A Controlled Substance?

The prescription pain medication tramadol (Ultram) is a controlled substance. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) states that tramadol is a schedule IV drug according to the Controlled Substances Act.

Learn more about Tramadol As A Controlled Substance

Is It Dangerous To Mix Tramadol With Alcohol?

The biggest risk of mixing tramadol with alcohol is that it can cause severe respiratory depression (slow, shallow, difficult breathing). This condition can be fatal.

Mixing tramadol with alcohol also increases the chance of:

  • more intense intoxication
  • tramadol side effects, such as drowsiness and mood swings
  • overdose with either or both substances
  • harm to yourself or others while under the influence
  • physical dependence and addiction

Learn more about the Effects & Dangers Of Mixing Tramadol & Alcohol

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