Am I Addicted to Tramadol?
You may be addicted to tramadol if you find you’re using it more often than prescribed, using it in ways other than directed (for example, crushing and snorting it), or using it despite knowing it’s harming you. If you need help to stop, there are many forms of treatment you can access to leave tramadol addiction behind.
No one intentionally sets out to become a drug addict. Unfortunately, the seductive qualities of many prescription medications prove too tempting for some. According to a study conducted by the federal government, close to 46 million Americans have admitted to abusing a particular prescribed drug even if this was a one-time occurrence. This represents around 20 percent of the population who is stepping out of the bounds of their doctors’ recommendations. One such drug that has a great potential for abuse is tramadol.
The Food and Drug Administration is charged with keeping our food supply safe and ensuring that our approved medications don’t cause harm. In terms of actual tramadol abuse, there were just over 700 cases reported to the FDA between 1995 to 2004. Although that might seem like a relatively low number, these were just the actual reported cases. The real numbers could be much higher.
A pharmacist will tell you that tramadol falls into the category of drugs that are classified as opiate agonists. This is a medical term that means that tramadol acts like morphine in many ways. When taken in proper doses, tramadol targets those areas of the brain which signal the body to feel pain. Suppress those receptors and the pain is relieved. Because we all want to feel good all the time, some tramadol users get into the habit of taking the drug daily. This in turn can build up a tolerance for the drug and require that larger doses are taken. When that occurs, a tramadol addiction has taken firm hold.
Types of Tramadol
There are two versions of tramadol that a doctor might prescribe. These are in an immediate-release or extended-release form. The immediate-release tramadol typically will come as a 50 mg pill while the extended-release is available in 100, 200, or 300 mg strength.
For patients who are trying to manage chronic pain, extended-release is often prescribed. It is never recommended that a tramadol tablet be cut into pieces, crushed for inhaling, or even chewed. As with any type of prescription, a doctor familiar with your condition should prescribe the proper use.
Side effects are always a possibility when taking prescription drugs and Tramadol is not the exception. The warning labels on a tramadol prescription come with the following list of possible side effects:
A person taking tramadol for the first time could also experience occasional rashes, vertigo, and dry mouth.
There have also been reported incidents of seizures being brought on by an allergic reaction to tramadol.
A patient who has taken excessive amounts of tramadol might find themselves suddenly empty-handed when it comes to feeding their habit. Often they try “doctor shopping” in the hope of finding a new source for the prescription. When all attempts to acquire the drug fails, they will be subjected to painful withdrawal symptoms. Among these withdrawal side effects are:
- Muscle cramps
- Increased anxiety
- Body aches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- High anxiety
As these side effects of withdrawal increase, the patient will often go to any means to get more tramadol and repeat the harmful cycle of addiction all over again.
Drug Interaction Side-Effects
As with other prescription drugs, tramadol has certain interactions when used in combination with other medications. For instance, a person who is taking carbamazepine to treat their depression will find that the effect of tramadol is greatly reduced. On the other hand, patients who are taking quinidine for their heart rate will actually find that the effects of tramadol are increased, sometimes as much as twice the strength.
Additionally, if you take tramadol with an SSRI you can induce seizures. If someone were to take tramadol with alcohol or other types of narcotic drugs, they could put their breathing at risk. Also, there have not been any substantial studies conducted on the effects of taking tramadol while pregnant or nursing. That is why it is advised that pregnant or new mothers avoid taking the drug altogether.
Warning Signs of Addiction
If you suspect someone you care about is having a tramadol abuse issue, there are some additional warning signs to be on the lookout for beyond the physical side effects. Obviously, if you are close to someone who was given a prescription for tramadol, you would be aware of this. The mere fact that someone was prescribed tramadol by their doctor to alleviate the pain doesn’t mean they’ve become an addict. However, consider these questions with regard to their use:
Is Someone Addicted?
- Are they using tramadol beyond the prescribed use, such as multiple times a day?
- Are they claiming their medication has been accidentally lost in order to get a new prescription?
- Are they asking for refills earlier?
- Are they visiting several doctors for the same issue in the hopes of getting more tramadol prescriptions?
- Are they asking you or other friends to fill a tramadol prescription for them?
- Are they constantly thinking about where to get more of the drug?
It is extremely difficult to watch someone you care about getting caught up in the throes of painful drug addiction. The basis of any intervention is to offer love and support for someone who has essentially bottomed out. Instead of going through this process alone, you can reach out to professionals who are skilled in this area. Many intervention guides can be found in association with a particular rehab center. Recovery is a group effort, and your feelings of care and concern are a great way to start the process.
Rehab Treatment for Tramadol Addiction
The recovery path for a tramadol addiction is twofold. First is total detoxification of the body to rid it of any traces of tramadol. The second is to engage in psychotherapy to understand the underlying issues which led to the addiction in the first place.
In the detox phase of recovery, it is recommended that a patient goes through this strenuous period under closely supervised medical attention. This can be accomplished at a certified tramadol addiction treatment facility. The withdrawal process might last anywhere between several days to a week.
During that time, the need might arise to help ease the patient’s withdrawal symptoms by providing other forms of medications. These medications can help with insomnia, upset stomach, and the anxiety that occurs during detox. The goal is to get the patient clean in a safe environment. Addicts won’t have the ability to reach out to enablers or drug dealers for a fix.
After the detox is complete, the work of therapy can begin in tramadol addiction treatment. Although the initial reason for taking tramadol might have been to provide comfort for pain, there are deeper reasons why the addiction took hold. At some point, the pain issue is supplanted for the addiction. During therapy, a patient will explore these issues in the hope of unlocking the causes and finding effective ways of modifying their behavior.