Tramadol Drug Addiction
Tramadol, outside of medical use can become a very serious addiction. The drug is used to treat moderate pain and is not classified as a controlled substance in most states yet if taken for a prolonged time, it can become habit-forming. Even if the drug is prescribed it can become an addiction. The United States Department of Health and Human Services produced a study that claimed 44% of the six million new prescription drug abusers were under the age of 18 years old. Marijuana and alcohol are still at the top of the list but prescription pill abuse is still a rising problem that needs to be addressed.
Is It an Addiction?
Tramadol is not listed in the Controlled Substances Act, even though it is an opioid medication with the potential for abuse. The American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV-TR states that Tramadol may be being abused if any of the following occur in a 12 month period.
- Substance use resulting in a recurrent failure to fulfill work, school or home obligations
- Substance use in physically hazardous situations such as driving or operating machinery
- Substance use resulting in legal problems such as drug-related arrests
Some of the side effects of Tramadol include shallow breathing, dizziness, constipation, and drowsiness or sedation. As more and more of the drug is taken the body builds up an immunity to the medication, therefore the dosage must be increased to create the original pleasurable response. When this occurs the risk of an overdose reaches an alarming rate. The symptoms of an overdose include drowsiness, fainting or near fainting, and weakness. Along with being physically addicted to the undesired substance, if taken long enough, the mind will also begin to think it needs the drug to feel better or to function in daily life.
Use of Tramadol should not be stopped abruptly. The body cannot handle the drastic change without the drug and will go into withdrawal. Even prescribed users of Tramadol have reported feeling anxious, nervous and the feeling of pins and needles when they miss a dose of their medication. For a person who has been abusing the drug the effects are much worse. The most common symptoms of withdrawal from Tramadol include:
- craving Tramadol
- flu-like symptoms
- muscle cramps
- serotonin syndrome
Since Tramadol affects everyone differently it’s hard to give an exact time line of when and what will exactly happen when the drug is no longer in effect. Serotonin syndrome is a dangerous possible side effect. When attempting to quit Tramadol the patient needs to be monitored. Serotonin syndrome can increase your blood pressure, cause hallucinations and confusion. If the withdrawal process gets to that point hospitalization is recommended to avoid more serious complications.
Symptoms will likely begin as soon as the effect of the drug has worn off so, within a few hours for most. The first few days will be the worst. Nervousness, anxiety, feeling of pins and needles, sweating, palpitations and unease are the beginning symptoms of Tramadol withdrawal. The first week will be unpleasant. Symptoms will even out and bee less intense but the patient is most likely going to suffer from disorientation, blurred vision and mediated pupils. The second week will be getting easier but opiate withdrawal symptoms are likely. Serotonin syndrome is still possibly affecting the patient along with depression, irrational feelings and anxiety. Cravings and depression will likely be issues that will need to be addressed for months or even years after the drug has been stopped.
What are the Treatment Options?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that over 13,000 specialized drug treatment facilities across America deliver counseling, behavioral and cognitive therapy and medication therapy to Tramadol abuse patients. Tramadol treatment centers usually use a multidisciplinary approach that is tailored to each patient and their specific case.
There are medical options for making the process of quitting bearable and lessen the symptoms of withdraw. Buprenorphine is a type of opioid that is often used to help people quit taking Tramadol. This drug has been proven safe and is an effective method for helping users get off the drug for good.
Inpatient services are offered for Tramadol addiction but outpatient therapy along with medication has proven to be an excellent method in helping addicts become ex-addicts.