Is tramadol addictive? Because this painkiller is less potent than other prescription opioids, many people believe that tramadol is safe. Unfortunately, this misconception leads some to develop a false sense of security about the drug.
You can develop an addiction to tramadol without even realizing it. Misusing it increases your risk of developing an addiction, even when you have a prescription. If you think you or a loved one has an addiction to tramadol or other opioids, Gateway Foundation wants to help. Our tramadol drug addiction rehabilitation centers in Illinois save lives every day.
Tramadol is available in various dosage forms, including:
Tramadol’s appearance differs depending on drug manufacturers, brands and dosage types. Tramadol tablets or capsules may appear round or oval in shape and white in color. Tablets or capsules may also come in various other colors depending on the prescription. Liquid tramadol or tramadol suspension will come in small vials with tinctures or oral syringes to administer doses.
When people consume tramadol, the effects surface gradually and become the strongest around the four- or six-hour mark. Tramadol copies the effects of the body’s pain-relief system, which may cause individuals to feel relaxed or euphoric.
Tramadol was first created in 1962 in Germany for treating pain. It took time for the drug to go through testing and approvals to bring it to the world market. When tramadol was first approved in the United States in 1995, the drug was not considered an opiate like oxycodone or morphine even though it acted on the body in similar ways. Soon, the use of tramadol became associated with cases of misuse and addiction among patients.
This association led the FDA to designate tramadol as a controlled substance in 2014. This designation means that tramadol has accepted medical use, but patients must be monitored because of its potential for misuse and addiction. Regulations include lower prescription refills and new prescriptions needed every six months.
Tramadol continued to grow in popularity, as it’s known for being a less-potent opioid. Tramadol is listed as a Schedule IV drug by the DEA. The Schedule IV label describes drugs, chemicals and other substances that carry a low potential for misuse and low risk of dependency. These substances require careful medical monitoring while patients take doses of them.
Tramadol prescriptions are monitored through a program called Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). The Opioid Analgesic REMS program started after its approval in 2018, providing a plan to help reduce the risk of opioid misuse, dependency, addiction, overdose and death. The other main goal of the Opioid Analgesic REMS program is to ensure the benefits of opioids, like tramadol, outweigh the risks.
This initiative requires training programs to be available for all health care providers who work to manage patients’ pain, which can apply to doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Opioid Analgesic REMS helps these health care providers learn how to select the appropriate opioid, write prescriptions and provide the best medical oversight to ensure patients continue to have a low risk for developing an addiction.
Although there are programs like REMS and other medical monitoring initiatives for tramadol and similar substances, patients seeking treatment for tramadol addiction or dependency are still common in rehabilitation centers. With people misusing their prescriptions or finding tramadol on the streets, tramadol addiction treatment is a necessity to help them find their way back to a healthy life.
Prescription pain relievers like tramadol are surrounded by statistics that better outline the severity of dependency or addiction development. Some statistics worth noting regarding pain reliever misuse, opioid misuse and tramadol include:
When tramadol was first introduced to the U.S., medical professionals noticed the possibility of dependency or addiction. Some initial statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) on tramadol misuse include:
Doctors most often prescribe tramadol to relieve pain in adult patients. Tramadol is available in an extended-release form, which can be used for continual pain management. However, patients should not use this form of tramadol on an as-needed basis. Physicians commonly recommend tramadol for osteoarthritis patients or those with other chronically painful conditions.
All forms of tramadol, including tablets, capsules, oral liquids and solutions, are consumed orally. Individuals with a tramadol prescription will take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. Tramadol is typically taken with or without food around every four to six hours. People with a tramadol prescription should also go through the medication guide the pharmacist provides before taking their medication.
Individuals taking the liquid form of tramadol should use a special measuring spoon for medicine to ensure they’re consuming the right dosage. Dosage levels for liquid tramadol and other forms vary depending on the individual and other health conditions. It’s important for people to ask their doctors or pharmacists questions if they need help understanding the right way to take tramadol.
It’s best for individuals to take their prescribed tramadol during the first signs of pain to benefit the most from the medication. Some people may require long-acting tramadol to treat their ongoing pain, like patients with arthritis.
Taking a tramadol prescription for a long time may introduce symptoms of withdrawal with sudden halts to taking the medication. Doctors will commonly begin gradually lowering an individual’s dosage to prevent them from experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Doctors and medical professionals will weigh the risk of tramadol use before writing the prescription, especially for individuals with a high risk of or a history of substance use disorder. Taking the medication as prescribed is the best way to reduce the risk of dependency, but the doctor will explain everything about the substance, like its intended use and health risks.
Even when tramadol is used as prescribed under a doctor’s supervision, users can experience adverse reactions. However, the danger of tramadol lies in its addictive nature and potential for misuse, which can put users at risk for severe side effects or even overdose. Misuse could include:
Any type of illicit use of tramadol is harmful to an individual’s life. Illicit use of tramadol can potentially lead to a dependency or addiction depending on the person’s use and risk.
Unfortunately, tramadol misuse seems to be on the rise. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that the number of tramadol-related emergency room visits increased by 250% in just over five years. Regardless of whether an opioid is considered safe, users must be cautious to ensure they don’t develop an addiction to the drug.
Opioid addiction is a serious issue in the United States. With around 49,860 opioid-related deaths in 2019, the continual fight against the opioid crisis is essential to learn about how to help others avoid suffering from substance use disorder with tramadol.
Any person who takes opioids like tramadol is at an increased risk of developing substance use disorder. Many things go into a person’s risk factors for developing an addiction, like:
These factors can help explain why some people can use substances regularly and not develop an addiction and why others do develop substance use disorder. Opioids like tramadol have certain characteristics that make the occurrence of addiction much more common.
Tramadol, like other opioids, triggers the brain to release endorphins. These feel-good chemicals can make individuals feel an overwhelmingly positive or euphoric sensation. These strong feelings and symptoms impact the brain’s reward system, encouraging individuals to continue using substances like tramadol to repeat the euphoria or “high” emotions.
People tend to use the words dependence and addiction interchangeably, but there are specific differences between each word. It’s common for people who know someone with substance use disorder to describe their behavior as having an addiction or a dependency on alcohol or drugs. It’s helpful to know the difference between both terms to describe a person’s behavior or condition with the correct words.
Check out the different characteristics of each term and see why it’s important to use words like addiction, dependency or substance use disorder in the right context.
The word dependence describes a person’s physical or psychological loss of control with substance use. Dependency can bring strong withdrawal symptoms when someone stops taking the substance or has trouble mentally separating themselves from the substance. A person struggling with dependency on a substance doesn’t always suffer from addiction, but addiction can follow after continued misuse.
A physical dependence can also describe an individual’s growing tolerance to a substance. A person with a tramadol prescription may notice they need higher doses of it to feel the effects of the pain reliever. This physical dependence can trigger withdrawal symptoms with a sudden stop in taking the prescription. Doctors will likely recommend slowly lowering the doses to prevent strong symptoms of substance dependence.
Addiction, or substance use disorder, is a condition where an individual has lost control over their use of drugs or alcohol despite knowing the negative consequences it inflicts on their life. This term describes a person’s intense obsession or cravings for a substance, like tramadol, to the point where their life is completely changed.
Individuals struggling with addiction will experience their lives slowly being taken over by the substance. Their compulsive need to obtain and use the substance can impact their work, education, family life and other relationships.
A person who has substance use disorder or is suffering from another addiction may show chemical differences in their brain compared to individuals who don’t suffer from addiction. Addiction can be a much more severe condition and require a more involved treatment process than a person struggling with dependency.
If you’re contemplating how to stop taking your prescription tramadol, you may already be struggling with a dependence or even an addiction to this drug. Opioid addiction does not always seem obvious to someone who has one. These signs may show that you or someone you know has an addiction to tramadol or another opioid:
A tramadol addiction may also show physical signs that are important to look out for. Determining these indicators early on can help individuals seek treatment sooner. These physical signs include:
Signs and symptoms of substance use for any type of drug or alcohol often look similar, so knowing what to look for can help a family member or loved one who’s struggling. A professional opioid addiction screening can also help you determine if you have an addiction. During one of these appointments, an expert will learn about your symptoms and behaviors to provide a diagnosis. As a disease, opioid addiction can receive treatment that reduces its effects.
A person who continues to misuse tramadol can experience potentially harmful effects from the substance. Health effects as dangerous as seizures have been reported in individuals who regularly use tramadol over long periods. Taking the signs and symptoms of tramadol addiction seriously can help save a person’s life and lead them down a healthier path to improving their overall well-being.
Substance use disorder impacts the individual suffering from the chronic condition and the people closest to them. If you suspect a loved one or yourself is suffering from substance use disorder, you likely have already noticed symptoms or signs. There are plenty of ways to learn whether you or a loved one needs to seek treatment for tramadol addiction. Check out the five signs or changes to look out for with substance use disorder:
Learning that a loved one is struggling with addiction can bring up various emotions. One of the first questions you may ask yourself is how you can help them through this condition. Encouraging recovery and supporting them is possible when you learn what steps you should take.
Once you determine that your loved one is struggling with a tramadol addiction, you can start trying to help them out. Here are five things you can do to assist someone you care about who’s struggling with substance use disorder:
A big reason why people find it difficult to stop using tramadol and other opioids is the withdrawal process. The symptoms can be intense and can hinder the recovery process if patients can’t make it through withdrawal. When searching for the best treatment option, it’s best to find a tramadol treatment center with a medical detox program.
Medical detox services or withdrawal management is an excellent program for people seeking recovery from tramadol use. This program provides patients with a safe and effective place to go through withdrawal symptoms and detox from tramadol. Patients will have access to around-the-clock care from medical professionals and medication that helps reduce withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox services can address the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
When symptoms of withdrawal become too intense for the patient to handle, a doctor can prescribe medications to help reduce them. Medication-assisted treatment is an effective option for many individuals going through tramadol recovery. These medications include:
After an individual develops a dependence on tramadol, quitting the substance will produce withdrawal symptoms. After the body becomes used to the drug physically and mentally, it will show signs of wanting to use it again.
Withdrawal occurs when the body wants to continue the euphoric feeling that tramadol can provide. The chemicals in your body will adjust to want the substance, and you will feel physically ill or struggle mentally after not consuming tramadol. Withdrawal is a big contributor to people being apprehensive of seeking treatment.
Tramadol withdrawal is different from other opioids because of how the substance acts as a pain reliever. Tramadol relieves pain by:
Because it relieves pain in two ways, people can experience two types of withdrawals — traditional opioid withdrawal and atypical opioid withdrawal. Each produces different types of symptoms.
The symptoms of traditional opioid withdrawal include:
Atypical opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
Withdrawal symptoms can begin hours after halting the use of tramadol or significantly lowering the dosage. Many factors contribute to the duration and severity of the withdrawal process, like the time spent using tramadol, co-occurring disorders or the tramadol dosage.
The average time someone will experience withdrawal symptoms is around two weeks. The timeline will look like this:
Opiate addiction clinics like Gateway help patients like you transform their lives. With the support of your care team, you can:
Treatment programs for tramadol addiction give you the tools and resources you need to set recovery goals and achieve them.
Modern opiate addiction treatment combines medication with therapy and social services. The typical elements of a tramadol addiction treatment plan include:
By addressing the ways that addiction affects your life, tramadol rehabilitation treatment can greatly improve your chance of a successful recovery. Your care team will help you figure out if you will benefit more from an inpatient or outpatient program.
High-quality treatment facilities like Gateway Foundation provide the best care for patients to help them succeed in recovery. It’s important to find a treatment center that offers everything you need to become healthier and learn how to cope with this chronic condition.
Your tramadol addiction treatment center should:
If you’re looking for quality treatment and care for yourself or a loved one suffering from tramadol addiction, Gateway Foundation is an excellent option for treatment in Illinois. By using evidence-based treatment and personalizing our programs for our patients, we can assist in finding the best path of recovery for people wanting to stop the usage of tramadol or other opioids.
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Gateway Foundation has an expert staff of medical and mental health professionals to assist patients in their recovery process. Contact us today to learn more about our services and programs for substance use disorder.