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Tramadol Abuse: Addiction Signs & Treatment Options

Tramadol is a prescription medication commonly used to treat chronic pain and related symptoms. Doctors commonly prescribe about 400 mg per day to a patient, and its effects start to show after about four to six hours.

Like any other painkiller, Tramadol activates the opioid receptors in the spinal cord and other parts of the body, dulling pain sensations and enhancing pleasure. It is also used as an antidepressant medication due to its reuptake inhibition character of norepinephrine and serotonin chemicals into nerve terminals. For this reason, the drug is widely used as a prescription opioid medication, commonly sold under the Ultracet, Ultram, and ConZip names to treat moderate to severe pains.

In 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration estimated that medical professionals issued about 36.5 million prescriptions to individuals. Due to its availability and ability to give a relaxing and happier sensation, Tramadol is easily abused, resulting in addiction and dependency. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration report in 2012 indicates that an estimate of over 3 million people aged 12 years and above have abused Tramadol at one point in their lives.

Signs of Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol has less addiction potential compared to other opioid medications. It is a Schedule IV substance, while other painkillers fall under Schedule II. Due to its calming and relaxing effects, individuals tend to abuse it by taking an excess dose or taking it without prescription. Prescription users can also become addicted, but they may fail to realize it until they stop using the drug. When used for a long time, individuals become tolerant of the drug, requiring them to use more for it to work effectively. Tramadol can also cause dependence, resulting in abuse to feed the cravings and avoid withdrawal symptoms. For those who use the drug for recreational purposes, the addiction occurs faster and is more evident.

Some of the common signs of Tramadol addiction include:

  • Tendency to take larger doses of Tramadol than prescribed
  • Behavior, relationship, and mood changes
  • Increasing Tramadol cravings
  • Difficulty fulfilling school, work, or family obligations
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug
  • Inability to stop or control Tramadol consumption despite the desire to stop
  • Failure to enjoy activities previously enjoyed
  • Tolerance of Tramadol
  • Tendency to spend a lot of money and time on buying and using Tramadol

Close family and friends may notice signs such as:

  • Strange sleep patterns
  • Appetite changes or fluctuations in weight
  • Mood swings
  • Erratic behaviors
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reduced production or a drop in grades

Tramadol Overdose

Unlike other opioid painkillers, Tramadol effects take time. The effects are felt after four to six hours. As a result, most people assume the drug is not working effectively, tempting them to take more and resulting in an overdose. The natural way of Tramadol absorption is ingestion through the gastrointestinal system. When individuals crush the tablets and snort or smoke them, the drug goes straight to the bloodstream, making it more likely to result in an overdose.

Mixing Tramadol with other drugs such as alcohol and opioids can also result in an overdose. Medical practitioners advise patients to not take alcohol while taking Tramadol for medication purposes. When both drugs are taken in small amounts, the effects are limited. However, there may be serious side effects as the combination alters crucial body functioning such as blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature regulation.

Signs of a Tramadol overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Low blood pressure and body temperature
  • Weak pulse
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Breathing problems

A tramadol overdose should be treated as a medical emergency as it presents life-threatening effects. You should seek help from a professional immediately if you suspect an overdose. To reverse the overdose effects, professionals usually use an opioid antagonist drug such as Naloxone.

Who Is at Risk of Tramadol Addiction?

Anyone can be at risk of Tramadol addiction. However, individuals with a Tramadol prescription are at a higher risk. Tramadol gives a euphoric and relaxing feeling. Prescription users can become dependent or accidentally addicted as their bodies become tolerant to the drug, causing them to want more to continue feeling good.

Tramadol is also used for animal use. Individuals who work with animals such as veterinarians have access to this drug, increasing their chances of abusing it.

Additional factors that can lead to Tramadol addiction include mental illness, abuse or trauma, chronic pain, and drug addiction history.

When to Seek Professional Help

Addiction is an illness that progresses over time. Immediate treatment from a professional can reverse the effects, but the first step to recovery recognizes you need help first. Some of the common signs that you need immediate help with include the following:

  • You feel Tramadol is interfering with your well-being, happiness, and moods.
  • You constantly think about how to get it, your subsequent use, and how it makes you feel.
  • It’s difficult accomplishing your daily tasks.
  • You experience a loss of concentration.
  • You find yourself doing things that you are not happy with.
  • Your friends or family request you to seek medical help.
  • You start doing things that endanger you.

Tramadol Addiction Intervention for a Loved One

Most people addicted to drugs, including Tramadol, are not aware of their condition, while others are in self-denial. Loved ones should offer drug addiction intervention with love and patience. Addiction is a disease, so intervention should be carefully planned and executed for successful results.

If you have a loved one addicted to Tramadol, consider seeking professional help from an interventionist. He or she will prepare and guide you on what to say when to say it as well as how to handle possible reactions such as denial and aggressiveness.

Create a safe and comfortable space and thoughtfully plan your words before expressing your feelings to the individual suffering from addiction. Please encourage them to seek medical help. It is important to note that the recovery process is personal, so you cannot force your loved one to get better. Focus on making them feel comfortable discussing their struggles with you.

Rehab for Tramadol Addiction

Individuals struggling with Tramadol addiction can seek help from a rehab facility to receive personalized care and treatment. Granite Recovery Centers helps clients overcome drug addiction through compassionate care and services. Our facility has over 10 years of experience helping patients in New England and beyond take back control of their lives by providing a continuum of services such as medical detox and evidence-based psychotherapies.

Levels of Care and Treatment Options for Tramadol Addiction

Tramadol addiction can be treated in different ways. For the process to be effective, the patient has to be cooperative and willing to stick to the program even when the recovery process gets tough. Some of the treatment methods and options used during the recovery process include the following:

Detox

The first step toward Tramadol addiction recovery is medical detoxification. This is the process of eliminating harmful substances from the body in a safe environment. It is recommended to detox as part of an inpatient setup. Clinicians will closely monitor the withdrawal symptoms and offer assistance in case of an emergency. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol include sweating, insomnia, shivering, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps. In extreme cases, the patient may experience hallucinations, panic attacks, numbness, paranoia, and extreme anxiety.

Before the detox process begins, medical practitioners conduct a comprehensive evaluation such as blood tests to address underlying issues and develop a plan that meets the client’s specific needs. They may utilize drugs such as anti-anxiety and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage the withdrawal symptoms.

The detox process can take days or weeks, depending on the client’s recovery speed and stabilization levels. Once the detox process is complete, the patient is enrolled in other treatment programs.

Therapy

An important treatment component of addressing Tramadol addiction is therapy. Therapy sessions are promising avenues to discuss and learn the cause of the addiction, coping mechanisms, triggers and how to avoid them, and how to cope with cravings for long-term sobriety. Sessions are usually led by a counselor or psychiatrist and can be done individually, in groups, or with family. Granite Recovery Centers counselors utilize evidence-based treatment methods and therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy during the recovery process. Therapies can be uncomfortable and extensive during the first weeks but tend to be less stressful as time elapses.

Some of the common types of therapies used in Tramadol treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Family and social therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Peer support group participation
  • Holistic therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy

Medication

Tramadol dependence can also be treated using multiple medications as part of a medication-assisted treatment program. One of the most used drugs is methadone, which is widely prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms without causing the patient to get high. Naltrexone and buprenorphine-naloxone medication are also used to treat Tramadol. Prescription is not necessary, especially if the chemical dependence is mild.

Outpatient Treatment

This level of care allows patients struggling with Tramadol addiction to get treatment while still meeting their daily obligations. It is suitable for individuals with moderate Tramadol addiction as they do not require much supervision. To get the best results, this program blends various treatment methods such as therapies and counseling. Depending on the level of addiction and the goals of the patient, a person can enroll in partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs. They both allow patients to go back home at the end of the day.

Inpatient Rehab

An inpatient treatment program is effective for patients with co-occurring disorders and severe Tramadol addictions. This level of care allows patients to recover without outside distractions, and it offers a high level of supervision and personalized care. These programs normally last between 28 to 90 days, depending on the recovery progress and the client’s needs. Granite Recovery Centers may extend the program if the patient goals are not met within 90 days. A successful program requires patients to strictly follow the rules and stick to the schedule.

How to Reduce the Risk of Relapse

During the recovery process, patients may find themselves falling back to using Tramadol. Relapse is part of the recovery process. Some practical tips to prevent Tramadol abuse relapse include eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and building a positive support network. It is also important to identify your triggers and avoid the people and places that remind you of Tramadol use.

After Care Programs

An after-care program plays an essential role in the success of any addiction recovery process. It refers to the care provided and measures taken after the treatment process to enhance long-term sobriety. Some of the after-care programs offered by Granite Recovery Centers include:

The 12-step program – This is a self-help group whereby individuals struggling with addiction meet regularly to discuss the physical, mental and spiritual struggles they face during their recovery process. Members share their experiences and get encouraged to stay sober by hearing the success stories of the others. Going to these meetings helps you create a social network of individuals who share the same goals as you, helping you stay focused and committed to the recovery process.

Sober Living – This is a long-term residential program that helps recovered individuals develop positive attitudes and learn helpful life skills to cope with life after the treatment programs. The program offers a structured support system and helps patients develop pro-social skills. Some of the services provided include career coaching and life skills training, such as cooking and nutrition. Patients must strictly follow and adhere to the set rules and regulations such as house cleaning and complete abstinence.

Alumni Program – Recovered patients are encouraged to enroll in the Granite Recovery Centers alumni program to maintain meaningful friendships and get care and support whenever they need it. The program involves peer support on recovery-related matters, educational events, annual alumni reunion, and recreational activities such as cookouts and yoga.

Reach Out Today

With the proper support, will, and understanding, you can overcome Tramadol addiction. It is important to select a rehab facility that fits your needs and matches your long-term goals. Granite Recovery Centers offer an array of personalized addiction treatment services in a safe environment. Overcome addiction by checking into our rehab facility today.