If you have been experiencing certain types of pain, you may receive a prescription for tramadol. If you use the drug as directed, you can experience considerable relief with minimal risk. But what happens to people who abuse tramadol, either to self-medicate or for recreational purposes? Is tramadol dangerous? Is tramadol addictive?
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is an opioid that is typically prescribed to treat adults who have been experiencing moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is the generic name of this drug. It is marketed in the United States under the brand names Ultram, Ultram ER, and Conzip. A medication that includes both tramadol and acetaminophen is also available under the brand name Ultracet.
Tramadol may be administered via tablet, capsule, or solution. The medication was originally sold in Germany in the 1970s. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval for tramadol to be marketed in the United States in 1995.
In April 2017, the FDA announced that tramadol should not be used to treat any types of pain in children younger than age 12. The FDA also stated that tramadol should not be used to treat postoperative pain (following surgery for tonsil or adenoid removal) in patients younger than age 18.
The FDA’s April 2017 announcement also advised against tramadol use by anyone who is pregnant, due to concerns that the medication could be harmful to the unborn child.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
Tramadol is an opioid. All opioids are addictive. This means that the answer to the question, “Is tramadol addictive?” is yes.
Compared to more powerful opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl and heroin, tramadol is generally considered to have a lower likelihood of addiction. For example, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance, along with drugs such as Xanax, Ativan, and Valium. The DEA has classified heroin as a Schedule I drug, while oxycodone and fentanyl are Schedule II substances.
Schedule I and II drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse and dependence. Schedule IV drugs such as tramadol are considered to have a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.
However, there is a significant different between “low risk” and “no risk.” Anyone who abuses tramadol can become addicted.
Tramadol Abuse Side Effects
Is tramadol addictive? Yes. Is addiction the only possible side effect of tramadol abuse? No.
In addition to the risk of becoming addicted to tramadol, people who abuse this drug also expose themselves to side effects such as the following:
- Powerful headaches
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat and runny nose
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain
If a person takes more tramadol than their body can safely process, this can cause an overdose. Signs of tramadol overdose include the following:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Faint heartbeat
- Extreme confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Lack of responsiveness
Anyone who exhibits these symptoms after using tramadol needs immediate medical attention.
Types of Tramadol Addiction Treatment
We’ve answered the question, Is tramadol addictive? And we’ve discussed some of the many side effects that can result from tramadol abuse. Now, it’s time to talk about treatment.
Treatment for tramadol addiction can take many forms, depending on what best meets each person’s unique needs. Depending on a variety of individual factors, a person’s tramadol addiction treatment may include elements such as the following:
- Detoxification: This short-term program, which is commonly referred to as detox, can be an essential step for people who have become addicted to tramadol. During detox, experienced professionals can keep people safe and as comfortable as possible as they complete withdrawal.
- Residential treatment: Residential care for tramadol addiction features an array of therapies and services, along with round-the-clock supervision and support. While a person is in residential treatment, they will live at the facility where they are receiving care.
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP): After completing residential treatment, many people step down to an IOP for continued support as they prepare to transition out of treatment. IOPs offer a dynamic combination of structured clinical care and ample opportunities for independent living.
In the context of the programs listed above, an adult’s treatment for tramadol addiction may include therapies and support services such as the following:
- Individual psychotherapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Physical fitness instruction
The types of services a person receives as part of their tramadol addiction treatment plan will depend on several factors, such as their age, how long they have been addicted to tramadol, if they are receiving residential or outpatient care, and if they have any co-occurring mental health concerns.
Begin Addiction Treatment for Tramadol Abuse in Los Angeles, CA
If you have been abusing tramadol, or if you have become addicted to this prescription opioid, please know that help is available. Renewal Health Group is a trusted source of quality clinical care for adults in the Los Angeles area who have been struggling with tramadol addiction. Every person who chooses Renewal Health Group can expect to receive superior services provided by a team of skilled and compassionate professionals. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.