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Tramadol Addiction: Is It Possible?

5 minute read

Tramadol is an opioid medication often used for pain management. Its brand names are Ultram and Ultram ER. But prescription drug addiction also carries a high risk of abuse and physical dependance because of how drugs affect brain chemistry. Tramadol addiction can take hold quickly but there are solutions.

Prescription opioid are synthetic drugs created in labs to mirror the effects of opiates, a kind of drug that comes from the poppy plant. For thousands of years, various cultures have used opiates for their pain-reducing qualities.

Tramadol was first approved in 1995 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. About 20 years later it became a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Tramadol can be ingested in tablet form (most common) or injected intravenously.

When prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist and used in an effective dose, tramadol can treat moderate to severe pain. But misusing tramadol can have serious consequences. When people take tramadol in doses higher than prescribed, they risk dependency. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop. This is how how tramadol addiction can start. Long-term abuse of opioids like tramadol can damage organs and increase the risk of overdose or even death.

How Addictive Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a powerful synthetic opioid that carries a significant risk for addiction and abuse. It may not be as potent as other opioids like OxyContin or Vicodin, but it still acts on the brain’s opioid receptors at a chemical level. It also affects the central nervous system.

When used to treat severe pain, tramadol inhibits feelings of pain by releasing endorphins in the brain. This provides an analgesic effect and temporary relief. But once the drug wears off and its pleasurable effects are gone, cravings, drug-seeking behavior, and abuse can occur. Prolonged use of Tramadol carries an increased risk of overdose and death due to its potency.

Opioids are even more dangerous when combined with other drugs or alcohol. The reaction between opioids and medications like antidepressants or migraine treatments can lead to serotonin syndrome. That is when too much serotonin hits the brain at once. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Insomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • And more

This makes it especially important not to combine opioids like tramadol with other medications that can cause increased serotonin reuptake, such as herbal products like St John’s Wort. It is important to tell your doctors about any medicines you’re taking before taking opioids like tramadol.

The risks associated with tramadol use become even more serious when combined with alcohol, including:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Organ damage
  • Death

If you are a frequent drinker, speak to your doctor before taking tramadol. Never ignore potential side effects. Seek medical help immediately if you experience dangerous symptoms after combining drugs and alcohol. Doing so may save your life.

Signs and Symptoms of Tramadol Addiction

tramadol addiction

Seeing a loved one battle the effects of addiction to tramadol is heartbreaking. Opioid abuse can be extremely dangerous and cause serious health complications, even when taken as prescribed for pain relief. Intervention is critical in the fight against opioid abuse and dependence to prevent serious side effects. The longer someone uses an opioid like tramadol, the more difficult their addiction can be to treat. Getting help as soon as possible for tramadol addiction is essential for full recovery and long-term health and well-being.

Those who think a friend or family member is abusing tramadol should look out for the signs and symptoms of opioid abuse.

Here are common signs that someone is suffering from tramadol addiction:

  • They use tramadol more often than prescribed.
  • They use the drug when pain isn’t a problem.
  • They have aggressive mood swings.
  • They engage in dangerous or risky behavior.
  • They experience changes in sleeping or eating habits.
  • They have poor personal hygiene.
  • They always need money or financial help.
  • They spend time with different friend groups than they did before.

Tramadol Addiction Treatment Options at Footprints to Recovery

Finding help for a tramadol addiction is crucial because opioid overdose is a very real issue. It can be difficult to know where to turn for help when tramadol threatens your well-being. Footprints to Recovery operates licensed treatment centers in Colorado, Illinois, and New Jersey. The staff is accredited and professional clinical therapists. Tramadol recovery at Footprints to Recovery involves evidence-based treatment programs. These are proven effective at treating tramadol and other opioid abuse. If you use tramadol to treat chronic pain, our therapists can help find alternatives to a dependence on opioid medication. A consultation can determine what levels of care will be most effective in ending tramadol dependence.

Medical detox – One of the first steps in the recovery process is ridding the body of all substances. Under the care of medical professionals, you can safely detox from tramadol in a comfortable environment. Detox is part of an overall recovery plan curated by the treatment providers at Footprints to Recovery. With their help, you can get past tramadol withdrawal symptoms. Your plan will be tailored to your needs, helping you find your own unique path to sobriety.

Residential addiction treatment – Inpatient treatment offers a comprehensive approach to clinical care that helps you develop the skills and strategies you need to recover from opioid addiction. You can gain insight into your substance use patterns and learn to manage triggers in inpatient rehab through:

  • Attending meetings
  • Engaging in therapeutic activities
  • Receiving guidance from experienced clinicians

Partial hospitalization program (PHP) – Clients spend around six hours per day in individualized therapy programs at a treatment facility. The other hours of the day are free for you to pursue normal daily activities, such as school or work. This allows you to remain connected to your existing support systems. The focus remains on long-term healing.

Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – IOP helps you transition back into your everyday life from intensive treatment for tramadol addiction. Through this program, you can gain the vital coping skills to handle triggers when they come up. You will attend meetings or therapy sessions a few times per week to learn how to better manage your thoughts and behaviors. With these tools and resources, you can improve your mental health and get a more positive outlook on life without the threat of substance use disorders.

Outpatient rehab – Outpatient treatment allows a more gradual transition back into your own life. Clients usually attend treatment once or twice per week. The caring team of treatment counselors is available at all times. They will guide and assist anyone who wants to stop using tramadol. Outpatient care provides the necessary tools for sober living outside a rehab facility.

Tramadol is a dangerous and controlled substance. It carries a high potential for abuse and withdrawal symptoms. Prescription opioids used as pain medications have more risk of negative effects like overdose and death than other drugs. They affect the brain and the central nervous system on a chemical level. Getting help now for tramadol abuse is critical. The longer someone waits, the worse tramadol withdrawal symptoms can be. That can make getting sober even more difficult.

Footprints to Recovery provides comprehensive alcohol and drug treatment programs. The focus of the staff is on compassion and client care for those struggling with Tramadol abuse. If you or someone you know depends on tramadol, call today. Learn more about the treatment options and addiction therapy available. With the right help, you don’t have to let substance use disorders get in the way of your full potential!  


Evan Gove
Jenna Richer
Author Evan Gove
Medically Reviewed by Jenna Richer, MSW, LCSW
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