Opioids claim 115 lives every day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. After drugs like OxyContin became notorious for causing addiction, pharmaceutical companies attempted to develop safer options for treating pain. Tramadol was initially considered less risky than other opioids. However, tramadol addiction is more widespread than people expected.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol, a prescription pain reliever, treats moderate to severe pain. Ultram, Ultram ER, ConZip, Ryzolt, Rybix ODT and FusePaq Synapryn are brand names for Tramadol.
The medication was approved for use by adults in 1994. At first, researchers found that patients were less likely to become dependent on or addicted to tramadol as other opioids. Therefore, the medication wasn’t regulated very strictly.
In high doses, tramadol delivers similar euphoric effects as its more powerful cousins, oxycodone, and fentanyl. As users discovered this, tramadol became a relatively easy drug to abuse.
How Tramadol Addiction Happens
All opioids work with opioid receptors in the body. Opioid drugs, such as tramadol, also stimulate the receptors and activate a reward circuit. The brain tells you that taking the drugs feels good, and it creates communication pathways that make you want to use the substance again and again.
Eventually, you lose the ability to generate your own pleasurable neurotransmitters. The body needs the opioids to feel good. If you stop taking the drugs, you may experience significant withdrawal symptoms, including aches, fever, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.
If you were taking tramadol for pain, your physical distress might be more intense than ever when you stop taking the medication. Without the right support and guidance, many people can’t fathom how they will ever stop taking the drug if they’re dealing with a tramadol addiction.
Tramadol Addiction Is More Dangerous Than Experts Thought
Most opioids attach to opioid receptors and increase levels of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. When you take tramadol, you also prevent the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. This leads to elevated levels of those signalers in the body.
Serotonin affects behavior, mood, appetite, sleep, libido, and memory. It makes you feel good, but chronically high levels of this chemical can be dangerous.
Serotonin syndrome can overstimulate your brain and body. It can cause seizures, muscle rigidity, and irregular heartbeat. Experts believe that overdoses from tramadol are more closely linked to serotonin syndrome than the effects of the opioids themselves.
Too much norepinephrine can slow your breathing and heart rate. It can also lead to seizures and convulsions.
Tramadol has not been FDA-approved for use in children. Adolescents who use the drug illegally may put themselves at an increased risk of overdose or opioid addiction.
Tramadol Addiction And Withdrawal
Because tramadol works differently than other opioids, withdrawal symptoms are unique. Naloxone, a drug given to counteract overdose from prescription drug abuse, is not as effective for preventing death from high doses of tramadol.
Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12 hours of the last dose of tramadol. People going through tramadol detox may experience a runny nose, watery eyes, restlessness, racing pulse, hypertension and rapid breathing, the same symptoms as opioid detox. They might also feel like they have the flu, have abdominal distress and feel extremely irritable. About 10 percent of patients going through tramadol withdrawal have extreme paranoia, confusion, panic attacks or hallucinations.
These symptoms tend to be more severe in people who are highly dependent on the drug. Taking other substances with tramadol can increase the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
Tramadol detox may need medication management. Quitting the drug without help can be physically and psychologically dangerous. Breathing, heart rate, and other vital signs need watching as you move through withdrawal. You should also receive appropriate psychological support to manage cravings and the emotional effects of detox.
At Serenity House Detox & Recovery, we offer science-backed, well-rounded treatment for tramadol addiction. Our medical supervisors are available around the clock, and we provide therapies such as:
You don’t have to deal with a tramadol addiction alone. If you or someone you know suffers from a substance abuse disorder, call us at 866.516.8356 to learn how we can help you achieve a successful recovery.