In the 1990s, a noticeable shift began in modern medicine as doctors began to treat pain as a major symptom. This meant that they were more aggressive in how they dealt with pain, often turning to heavier drugs than before in order to help patients find the relief that they sought. This, combined with efforts by prescription drug companies to make more effective pain killers, unleashed a flood of prescription-strength opioids onto the market.
While these drugs are often able to help patients manage their pain, they do so with a terrible price, and a major spike in opioid addiction was born. That morphed into an increased demand for heroin and other opioids. Overdoses on these drugs killed more than 40,000 people last year.
Many opioid drugs are to blame for this spike in overdose-related deaths. One of those is Tramadol.
What Is Tramadol and How Does It Work?
If taken normally and under the guidance of a medical professional, Tramadol is not dangerous. Tramadol is one of the many painkillers that are available by prescription. It is taken on an as-needed basis for pain relief, usually every four to six hours. It is considered to be a “moderate” pain reliever and is not as strong as some other drugs that are currently available.
Tramadol works by altering the way that your body reacts to pain. It does so by changing the way the pain receptors throughout your body work, helping to block painful sensations and make you feel less pain. These aren’t the only things that Tramadol does to your body, but it is the primary method by which the drug works. Unfortunately, it is possible to develop a tolerance to Tramadol, meaning that you will have to take more in order to achieve the same effect. This can be dangerous over time and can lead to withdrawal or addiction.
Tramadol is an opioid. This means it is part of a class of drugs that are typically used for pain relief. Unfortunately, since it is an opioid, Tramadol is also highly addictive. This means that doctors have become much more cautious in how they prescribe opioids. It is also a controlled substance, which means that misuse or misdirection of the drug can come with a prison sentence and other serious consequences.
Side Effects of Tramadol on a Person
Tramadol is produced by Amneal Pharmaceuticals. As noted above, Tramadol is primarily used for pain relief. However, those are not the only effects that Tramadol typically has on a person. Other effects include:
- Constipation, which is a relatively common symptom of opioid use
- Nausea, vomiting, and general stomach upset
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
More serious side effects such as trouble breathing, fainting, or seizures are possible. Thankfully, they are not common.
Some of the side effects can feel extremely pleasant to drug users. Users report that taking Tramadol can potentially bring on a variety of calming sensations, making users feel warm, happy, relaxed, and at peace. It is not considered to be quite as strong as heroin, but it is unquestionably addictive. It is also worth noting that Tramadol works slightly differently than many other opioids: It can also increase levels of serotonin. This means that it can not only create a euphoric, relaxed state but also increase someone’s mood.
How Is Tramadol Addictive?
The vast majority of people who use Tramadol will not become addicted to it. Unfortunately, some will because the drug contains all of the hallmarks of addiction.
Tramadol can induce some very pleasant sensations. Taking the drug illicitly, such as by snorting it, can result in a more powerful sense of intoxication and euphoria. Depending on a variety of factors, including the psychology of the individual taking the drug, their genetic predisposition to addiction, and their own physiology, someone can become addicted to these sensations.
Like with most opioids, it is possible to develop a tolerance to Tramadol. This means that people will need to take higher levels of the drug or resort to snorting it or injecting it in order to get the same feelings. Tolerance is standard with most opioids. Unfortunately, the concept of tolerance can result in major addiction challenges. As someone takes more and more of a drug, they become more dependent on it. An individual may also switch from using Tramadol, which is already risky when abused, to illegal drugs such as heroin. This is extremely dangerous and can result in overdose, death, or further addiction.
It is also possible for someone to suffer withdrawal symptoms related to Tramadol use. Someone who abruptly stops using Tramadol, particularly without supervision or under the care of a medical or addiction professional, may face some very serious side effects. These include sweating, pain, and vomiting. The withdrawal symptoms are made worse because your body will stop receiving the serotonin boost that it was used to getting when it took Tramadol. This could lead to a variety of negative psychological states, including hallucinations, panic attacks, or significant paranoia.
The overall prevalence of Tramadol has made the pill relatively easy to obtain. It is supposed to be consumed orally and taken with food or drink. This ensures that the drug is absorbed slowly and that its pain-relieving impacts are more spread out. However, users who are interested in getting high will often opt to snort the drug. Snorting a drug as opposed to taking it orally means that users are more likely to feel its euphoric benefits and feel them faster than they would otherwise.
Tramadol addiction is not a small problem. According to the United States Department of Justice, in 2018, 1.5 million people aged 12 and up had abused Tramadol.
How Can You Tell If Someone Is Addicted to Tramadol?
Tramadol addiction, like many other signs of addiction to opioids or other forms of medication, can be difficult to discover, particularly if the individual in question is adept at hiding their addiction. However, there are ways that you can determine if someone is addicted to Tramadol.
First, there are obvious signs. Someone may use the drug on a regular basis even after they are no longer in pain. They may also be using an increasing amount of the drug or taking the drug by snorting it or injecting it. No one should be using Tramadol unless it has been prescribed by a doctor; if someone you love is using the drug without a prescription, you should intervene.
An individual who is addicted to Tramadol is likely to suffer a series of social or professional challenges. They may miss school or work and allow their performance in these areas to slip. From a social perspective, they are likely to see a change in social groups, either by moving away from older friends or moving to new ones. If this is the case, it is possible that these new friends are individuals who may be enabling or encouraging this new addiction.
From a physical perspective, there are a variety of signs of substance use disorder. Someone may appear to be less sharp and in a stupor. If they are snorting the drug, they may develop nasal problems, like trouble breathing, sniffling, or nose bleeds. They may also have difficulty swallowing. A person who is addicted to Tramadol may also be constipated on a regular basis. They may also appear to be in a better mood as the drug keeps their serotonin elevated. They may also have red eyes or unexplained weight changes.
In addition, emotional changes are likely. Someone may simply seem different, engage in more secrecy, and experience mood swings or spikes in anxiety.
Tramadol Addiction Treatment Options
Despite the fact that a Tramadol addiction can be devastating to someone who is addicted, ample evidence shows that someone who is addicted to Tramadol can recover and lead a good and healthy life.
Addiction treatment for Tramadol varies depending on the severity of the addiction and if a person suffering has additional challenges. Unfortunately, substance use disorders often go hand-in-hand with other mental health challenges like depression or anxiety. In such cases, a specialized dual diagnosis program may be needed. These programs treat substance use disorder and mental illness. They are highly specialized and explore different treatment methods for both diseases, treating the two as part of a holistic, comprehensive treatment plan.
Different treatment plans may also involve a residential component. Many types of treatment plans do not require that the individual who is receiving the treatment actually stay at a rehab facility 24/7. These treatment plans, known as outpatient treatment, simply require that a person engage in therapy on a regular basis and stick with a prescribed treatment plan. For more severe cases, there is intensive outpatient treatment, which provides more support and therapy.
Unfortunately, in many cases, a person may be so addicted that they need more supervision and treatment than an outpatient facility can manage. In this case, someone may require inpatient treatment. In this program, a patient will stay at a residential facility for a set period of time. They will undergo a variety of types of therapy and be under supervision 24 hours a day. This ensures that the individual in question cannot relapse and receives medical monitoring for any withdrawal symptoms.
Therapy for Tramadol addiction can take many forms. In most cases, a person will first need to purge all forms of the substance from their body. This treatment, known as “detox,” is often medically supervised and may be done with the supervision of medical experts. Once detox has been completed, a person can begin engaging in any number of therapeutic modalities. These include:
- Talk therapy, in which the person suffering from the addiction engages in structured, evidence-based therapy with a trained counselor. There are many forms of talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or motivation therapy. It is worth noting that this type of therapy can only be conducted under the supervision of a trained and licensed counselor.
- Medication-assisted treatment, which involves taking regular medications in order to cut down on addiction and reduce the euphoric sensations that someone experiences when they take a drug. This must be done under the supervision of a doctor as some of the drugs given can be abused in and of themselves. However, the evidence does show that medication, when used in conjunction with counseling, can be extremely beneficial for someone who suffers from substance use disorder.
- Lifestyle therapy, which involves helping someone examine reexamine their lifestyle, including occupation, forms of recreation, and relationships with family and friends. This can also involve the teaching of productive life skills and helping someone learn more positive ways to process their anger or other negative feelings.
Being addicted to Tramadol can be difficult, if not impossible, to beat on your own. Thankfully, there are a variety of high-quality treatment options available to you or your loved one if they are addicted to Tramadol. This includes Granite Recovery Centers. Our facility offers numerous modalities of treatment for a variety of addictions that may be related to Tramadol, including prescription opioid addiction or dual diagnosis.
Don’t wait to give your loved ones the help they need. Call today to learn more.