Tramadol is a prescription pain reliever generally used for the short-term treatment of painful conditions from accidents and injuries or post-surgical pain. However, continued use of the drug can lead to misuse. Tramadol is also available illegally on the streets. As such, many people often want to know how dangerous tramadol is.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is classified as a synthetic opioid medication. Opioids include drugs like morphine, oxycodone, meth, heroin, and fentanyl. Tramadol works like other opioids and binds to opioid receptors in the brain to reduce the transmission of pain signals from pain receptors through the central nervous system.
The drug also causes an increase in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine brings about calmness and relaxation and is associated with pleasure.
How Addictive Is Tramadol?
When tramadol is taken as prescribed, most people do not develop an addiction to the drug. However, they may experience minor withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking tramadol. Yet, many people misuse the drug, which can lead to addiction.
Furthermore, long-term tramadol drug use can lead to dependence and eventual addiction. As such, due to the potency and risk of dependence and addiction, this is why it is only prescribed as a short-term medication.
How Dangerous Is Tramadol?
One of the more serious and life-threatening side effects of taking tramadol is respiratory problems. Some people can find breathing difficult or go into respiratory failure simply by taking the drug once. As such, tramadol is usually used as a last-resort option to treat pain.
When it is prescribed, most doctors will begin with a very low dose and monitor the person to ensure they are not experiencing any side effects. In addition, anytime a dosage amount is increased, the risk of breathing and respiratory problems increases.
Taking tramadol can lead to death when people have asthma, COPD, or other respiratory conditions. As you can imagine, when the drug is obtained illicitly, the person taking it may have no idea of this risk so they could easily overdose and die.
Signs of Tramadol Use Disorder
The signs of tramadol use disorder are similar to other opioid use disorders. When a person exhibits two or more of the following signs within a 12-month period, it often indicates misuse and addiction to the drug.
- Self-medicating and adjusting dosages without consulting with a doctor
- Taking higher doses of tramadol than initially prescribed
- Seeking out illicit tramadol when a doctor will not increase the dosage
- Losing interest in hobbies, activities, and things one enjoys
- Continuing to take tramadol even when someone wants to stop
- Engaging in drug-seeking behaviors to get tramadol, such as attempting to get multiple prescriptions, stealing money to buy it on the street, or offering to exchange sexual favors for the drug
- Relationship problems with family and friends
- Self-isolating or withdrawing from others to hide tramadol misuse
- Experiencing financial problems
- Inability to maintain a job
- Associating with others who misuse tramadol or other opioids
- Experimenting with other opioids or mixing them with tramadol
Does Tramadol Have Withdrawal Symptoms?
Similar to other opioids, tramadol does have withdrawal symptoms that can appear as soon as the drug wears off. The longer the drug is taken, whether prescribed or misused, the withdrawal symptoms can become more intense and severe. Some of the more common ones include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body and Muscle Aches and Pains
- Panic Attacks
- Excessive Sweating
- Mood Swings
- Stomach and Gastrointestinal Cramps and Pain
- Elevated Heart Rate/Blood Pressure
How Is Tramadol Use Disorder Treated?
Tramadol use disorder is treated similarly to other opioids. One should never attempt to quit tramadol cold turkey as there can be serious and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Effective tramadol treatment requires medical detox at a medical detox and addiction treatment center.
Medical detox is where healthcare professionals and addiction specialists supervise detox to help monitor withdrawal symptoms and adjust detox treatment as needed. Medical detox can also include the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT can be used to help alleviate the more intense and severe withdrawal symptoms by using non-addictive prescription medications that mimic the effects of opioids. Furthermore, MAT can continue to be used post-detox while undergoing addiction treatment and as part of an aftercare plan. Ongoing MAT use often helps those with tramadol addictions avoid lapses and relapses.
After medical detox is completed, the person should transition into an addiction treatment program. They should choose the most appropriate treatment program that will benefit them the most. For instance, some people find inpatient rehab beneficial because it allows them to focus entirely on their addiction without outside distractions. On the other hand, other people with family and financial commitments can benefit from outpatient rehab.
When selecting a treatment program, remember to choose the one that will help you maintain your sobriety and reduce the risk of lapses and relapse.
Tramadol Detox and Addiction Treatment in Columbus, OH
When you want help quitting tramadol, Ohio Addiction Recovery Center in Columbus, OH, is here to help you take the first steps to recovery. We offer personalized tramadol detox and addiction treatment programs in a caring, supportive, and safe environment. Contact us today to start your treatment.