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COVID-19 and Rehab: Facts about drug and alcohol addiction treatments during pandemic.


April 12, 2021

Narcotic drugs work by acting on pain receptors in the central nervous system to change how you perceive pain. Tramadol is a narcotic analgesic that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It comes in tablet form and is commonly known by its brand names Ultram and ConZip, or it is referred to simply as tramadol.

Though tramadol can only be legally acquired from a doctor’s prescription, it can also be bought online or through other illicit means, which makes it easily accessible for many addicts. When used in higher doses or taken for longer than directed, tramadol’s addiction potential increases and it is likely that a dependence will form.

Keep reading to get a better understanding of how tramadol abuse begins and to learn about the treatment options that will help you stop this harmful addiction.

Tramadol tablets being poured out of a pill bottle.

What is tramadol and why is it addictive?

When used for medical purposes, tramadol acts as a prescription pain reliever that helps patients manage postoperative pain, arthritic pain, injury-related pain, fibromyalgia, and more.

When tramadol acts on the pain receptors in the brain, it inhibits the reuptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. This process is what limits the perception of pain, but it also often causes feelings of euphoria. This effect is desirable to many that take the drug, and may lead to dependence as time passes and tolerance develops.

In general, tramadol is considered to be weaker than other opioids (both prescription and illegal drugs), but the addiction risk is still present. Since tramadol is “weaker” than other narcotic medications, users may think that there is no risk of developing a dependence, but this false sense of security can lead to excessive or improper use.

A tolerance can form as the brain gets used to the presence of tramadol. This means that a user needs to take higher doses to feel the same pleasurable and pain relieving effects. Once a tolerance has developed, the chances of forming a dependence to the drug become much higher. This dependence can lead to abuse, and abuse can lead to addiction.

How does tramadol abuse start?

Patients who are prescribed tramadol in order to treat pain can develop an addiction over time if the drug is taken improperly. This includes taking the drug in a higher dose than is recommended, or taking it for longer periods of time. The patient may not realize that they are developing a dependence on tramadol. This is why it is important to speak to your healthcare provider about all of the medication you take, as well as the quantities and the duration of use.

Tramadol abuse may also begin if an addict is trying to find a substitute for a different opioid or narcotic drug. This path to addiction can happen with many opioid and narcotic prescription medications, as they are frequently easier to find than strictly illicit substances such as heroin.

Signs and symptoms of tramadol addiction

Tramadol addiction symptoms

A tramadol addict may experience several uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Clumsiness or issues with coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increase or decrease in appetite

Behavioral signs of tramadol addiction

Tramadol addict experiencing exhaustion and social isolation.

Those who suffer from a drug addiction of any kind will likely display unusual or uncharacteristic behavior. Prolonged tramadol abuse can have several physical and psychological effects which may be exhibited outwardly. If you or a loved one shows any of the following signs, it is possible you are suffering from a tramadol addiction. This includes:

  1. Socially isolating themselves and neglecting important relationships.
  2. Going through new doctors quickly in order to get tramadol prescriptions.
  3. Neglecting everyday responsibilities at home or in the workplace.
  4. Having sudden mood swings and unexplained behavioral changes.
  5. Being unusually tired or exhausted.
  6. Attempting to procure tramadol illegally.
  7. Continuing to use tramadol despite the negative effects on their quality of life.
  8. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon trying to quit, or attempting to quit and failing.
  9. Having financial trouble due to spending excessive amounts of money on tramadol.

Get a free online consultation to learn how to manage these symptoms for you or your loved one >>>

Short and long term health risks of tramadol abuse

Short term side effects of tramadol can occur immediately after the first use and last for as long as the drug is in your system.Tramadol comes in both immediate-release and extended-release tablets. The effects from immediate-release tablets can be felt for about 4-6 hours, whereas the effects from extended-release tablets last anywhere from 12-24 hours

People that abuse tramadol for long periods of time can experience much more serious and dangerous effects that put their overall health at risk.

Short term effects of tramadol use

Even when taken as directed, tramadol can cause uncomfortable short term side effects. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating

Though these side effects may not seem severe, they can still be dangerous. Disorientation and confusion can lead to harmful accidents, which is why you should not drive after taking tramadol. If these side effects become intense or persist for a long period of time, you should contact a healthcare provider.

Long term tramadol health risks

Long term tramadol abuse can change the chemistry of the brain and negatively affect the body. Those who use tramadol regularly for extended periods of time may face health risks such as:

  1. Seizures: The risk of having a tramadol-induced seizure increases after prolonged and repeated use.
  2. Respiratory Issues: Most narcotics, including tramadol, have the potential to reduce respiratory function. This risk is increased when a high dose is taken or when tramadol is mixed with other opioids or substances like alcohol.
  3. Organ Damage: The liver and the kidneys may be irreparably damaged by excessive or prolonged tramadol use. Liver failure may occur if a very high dose is taken.
  4. Adrenal Issues: The adrenal gland helps produce hormones that are essential to the proper functioning of the body. With long term tramadol abuse, the adrenal system may be compromised and hormone production may be reduced, which can cause several physical and psychological issues.
  5. Psychological Effects: As a result of the drug’s effect on the brain, repeated use and addiction can lead to anxiety, depression, and lowered self esteem. This is partially caused by the decreased quality of life many addicts face due to financial issues, social isolation, and compromised health.

Treatment for tramadol dependence and addiction

Withdrawing from any narcotic is an uncomfortable experience. Depending on the extent of the addiction, the abstinence crisis may be mild, moderate, or severe. In order to get off of tramadol, detoxification must take place. Going through detox alone can be very unpleasant, and can lead to relapse or even cause dangerous health complications depending on a variety of factors.

If you attempt to detox from tramadol alone, you may spend 2-3 months experiencing moderate to extreme discomfort as you slowly reduce the dosages of tramadol until it is completely gone from your body. Though this is technically possible, the painful symptoms and drug cravings make the process incredibly difficult and greatly increase the chances of relapse.

To prevent relapse, avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms, and stay safe as you are getting off tramadol, the detoxification process should be supervised by a medical professional.

A medical professional in an addiction treatment facility

An effective, safe, and pain-free treatment option is ultra-rapid opioid detoxification (UROD). With this method, tramadol is removed from your body while you are under anesthesia, meaning you get to avoid experiencing the worst withdrawal symptoms. 

While the patient is asleep, they are given opioid blockers and the body begins cleansing itself of the drug. This process lasts for about 6 to 8 hours, and it may be repeated several times. During the entire procedure, the patient is monitored to ensure their health and safety. The treatment process as a whole usually lasts between 7 and 14 days.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has a tramadol addiction and you are ready to get help, get in contact with us to set up a treatment plan and restart your life without this harmful addiction.

Get a free and confidential online consultation to find out more about getting rid of your tramadol addiction. You will discuss treatment options and the various outcomes with an expert of the clinic >>> 

Frequently asked questions

Why is tramadol addictive?

 Tramadol acts on specific receptors in the brain to alter the way we perceive pain. It inhibits the reuptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Though this helps to reduce pain, it also causes feelings of immense pleasure and euphoria. Once the brain gets used to tramadol, a tolerance will develop and higher doses will need to be taken in order to produce the same effects. As more of the drug is taken for longer periods of time, a dependence can form, which leads to abuse and addiction.

What are the health risks of long term tramadol abuse?

Long term tramadol abuse can change the chemistry of the brain and negatively affect the body, leading to dangerous physical and psychological issues such as: seizures, organ damage, respiratory issues, adrenal impairment, anxiety, and depression.

What is the treatment for tramadol addiction?

Though it is technically possible to self-detox and slowly reduce the dosage of tramadol over a long period of time, this is a lengthy, painful, and often unsuccessful process. In order to avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms and clean the drug from your system safely, the detoxification process should occur in a medical facility specialized in addiction treatment. Ultra-rapid detoxification is a safe, quick, and painless treatment method for tramadol addiction that can help prevent relapse and help you to return to a healthy life once again.

Published on April 12, 2021

by Dr Vorobjev Clinic team

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