What is Tramadol Addiction?
Tramadol, an opioid drug, is often prescribed for moderate to severe pain symptoms that carries considerable risk of abuse and addiction. This risk applies to people who take the drug as advised by their doctors, as well as for those who use it in excess. Tramadol is often prescribed under the names Ultram, or Zytram.
As with most opiate drugs, ongoing use can lead to tolerance and physical dependence. If the individual continues to use and escalate the amount of tramadol used after tolerance and dependence has occurred, the user will enter into a downward spiral as the drug’s effects overwhelm their ability to stop using.
Risks of Tramadol Addiction
Opioid misuse and addiction have grown to epidemic proportions in the United States, with 11.8 million people over age 12 reporting that they misused opioids in 2016. A very small portion of that number are heroin users, while the remaining 11.5 million are abusing prescription pain relievers such as tramadol.
With chronic misuse, the drug’s damaging effects start to impact a person’s overall physical health in drastic ways, causing serious medical and even psychological problems to develop, such as:
- Withdrawal syndrome
- Liver and kidney disease and failure
- Respiratory depression
- Cognitive impairment
Side Effects of Tramadol Addiction
By far the most common side effect of Tramadol use is nausea – in fact, it is generally administered with an anti-emetic in hospital settings.
Tramadol side effects include:
- Impaired immune system
- Dry mouth
- Clogged blood vessels
- Collapsed veins
- Decreased breathing rate
Signs of Tramadol Addiction
Cell structures undergo considerable strain when using tramadol on a frequent basis. This strain gradually gives way to structural damage, which inevitably marks the beginnings of widespread chemical imbalance throughout the brain and central nervous system.
Here are some signs a user may be suffering from addiction to tramadol:
- Increasing tolerance for larger drug doses
- Physical dependence
- Withdrawal syndrome
- Drug-seeking behavior
Signs that someone you love may be addicted to tramadol include:
- Running out of a filled prescription too early
- Lying about and hiding drug use
- Visiting more than one doctor or clinic to obtain prescriptions
- Secretive behavior
- Isolating behavior
- Becoming defensive or hostile when confronted with drug use
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, and home
- Unexplained mood swings and physical complaints
What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Tramadol?
If someone you love is abusing tramadol, urge them to seek professional addiction treatment. Some individuals merely need to be confronted with their problem to decide they need help, but many others may need time and more than one conversation before they let go of their denial. If speaking calmly, warmly, and honestly with your loved one about their addiction doesn’t help, you may want to consider staging a formal intervention.
When a loved one is addicted to a drug like tramadol, you also need to be wary of the dangers of overdose.
Symptoms of a tramadol overdose may include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Extreme drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
- Slowed heartbeat
- Pale, clammy skin
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect an overdose has occurred, call emergency responders immediately.
Treatment Options Available for Tramadol Addiction
At an inpatient treatment program, you will receive treatment not just for your addiction, but for the causes of your tramadol misuse, including treatment for any co-occurring mental health disorders, and for any health problems that may have resulted from your addiction. The consistent structure and security of an inpatient addiction treatment program will give you a strong start in recovery, allowing you to learn new coping skills and make personal and psychological changes that will better prepare you for returning home and living a new life without tramadol use.
Inpatient tramadol rehab centers can vary in treatment duration with programs offering 30-, 60- and 90-day stays. The degree of the damage wrought by chronic tramadol abuse can vary depending on a person’s overall physical and mental health. Whereas one person may require short-term care, another may require a much longer stay.
After inpatient treatment, you will most likely transition into an outpatient program, and then to aftercare services, so that you will experience a gradual step-down in the intensity of treatment over time. This approach will help you to prepare for each step before it happens, making you less vulnerable to relapse when the time comes to transition to more freedom and independence. You will also learn tools and techniques to support recovery for the long-term, such as attending 12-step meetings, checking in with counselors, and taking good care of your physical, emotional, and mental health.
When choosing a treatment facility for your tramadol addiction, it’s important to consult experts in the field and be honest with yourself to ensure you receive the level and intensity of care needed to get you back on track.