Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever which is commonly marketed under the brand names Ultracet and Ultram. It helps treat moderate to severe pain. Its extended-release form is used to provide around-the-clock relief from chronic pain. Tramadol acts by modifying the processing of pain signals that travel between the brain and the nerves.
Though chemically different from other opiates, it works on a similar line by binding to opioid receptors in the body that are responsible for pain relief and euphoria. Some of the effects of tramadol can be reduction in anxiety and mood changes.
Tramadol was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1995, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made it a federally controlled drug in 2014 in the wake of its increased abuse and extreme withdrawal symptoms. Though smaller in scope compared to other opiate painkillers, individuals abusing the drug for non-medical purposes and the consequences of that are still significant. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of emergency room visits involving adverse reactions of tramadol has gone up.
Some of the effects of tramadol include:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
Tramadol Abuse, Symptoms and Effects
Tramadol reduces depressive and obsessive-compulsive symptoms by raising the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Due to its ability to alter mood, people might start abusing the drug that may lead to drug dependence (physical and psychological). When taken for a longer duration of time, tramadol use can lead to cognitive impairment and slow reaction time. Long-term use can also increase the tolerance level that can gradually lead to physical dependence. And drug tolerance and dependence may eventually lead to tramadol addiction.
Due to its narcotic properties, one may develop tramadol addiction if the drug is taken for a longer duration, taken in larger quantities than prescribed, taken for non-medical purposes, taken more frequently than prescribed or when mixed with other addictive substances. Addiction to tramadol is characterized by a compulsive drug seeking behavior, inability to function without the drug and the inability to limit the drug use.
When used for recreational purposes or when one develops tolerance to the drug, there is a chance of tramadol overdose. Some of the symptoms of tramadol overdose are:
- Decreased pupil size
- Irregular heartbeat
- Slowed breathing
Treatment for Tramadol Addiction
Sudden discontinuation of tramadol may cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as agitation, confusion, diarrhea, muscle ache, restlessness, depression and hallucination. In such a scenario, individuals suffering from tramadol addiction should seek professional support in tramadol drug rehab centers. Treatment for tramadol abuse and dependence requires a combination of detoxification and therapies in a tramadol addiction rehab center.
Treatment in a specialized tramadol addiction treatment center begins with detoxification under the supervision of trained medical health professionals that helps in gradual drug withdrawal. After detoxification, experts focus on dealing with underlying psychological addiction symptoms.
Inpatient Treatment Program: Often considered as the best treatment option, an inpatient treatment center offers treatment within a sober living facility. In addition to detoxification, it offers psychotherapy and counseling services to treat any underlying mental illnesses that might be responsible for addiction. It is preferred in case of severe addiction.
Outpatient Treatment Program: For those who cannot attend regular treatment programs, tramadol addiction treatment can be taken up in an outpatient facility that provides treatment and therapy sessions even as a person continues to stay at his/her home to fulfill his other commitments.