Tramadol is not nearly as safe as once thought. Tramadol addiction is a real phenomenon, for which the risks should be known. Here we break them down.
Tramadol, also known as Ultram, is a synthetic opioid that was released in 1995 for pain relief. What made Tramadol unique from other opioids marketed for moderate pain, however, was that it was advertised as being a safe alternative with very low abuse potential.
The FDA initially decided to leave Tramadol as an unscheduled drug, meaning it did not have any of the stricter regulations that opioids typically have.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
Tramadol is both physically and physiologically addictive. With the Opioid Epidemic causing doctors to be nervous about prescribing traditional opioids, Tramadol prescriptions greatly increased every year. The dangers of Tramadol, however, were vastly underrated.
Here we go over what science says today about Tramadol addiction.
Tramadol binds the same exact receptors in the brain that cause pain-relief as other opioids. And just like other opioids, it produces euphoria as a side effect of binding these receptors.
This ultimately can lead to a physiological dependence to the euphoric effects of Tramadol.
Tramadol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, rigors, pain, nausea, diarrhea, and upper respiratory symptoms. Tramadol also leads to the same physical dependence that is characteristic of opioids. This includes producing the notorious opioid withdrawal syndrome that is extremely uncomfortable and difficult to get through.
Unlike other opioids, Tramadol also acts as a serotonin reuptake blocker, leading to unique and particularly difficult withdrawal symptoms when use ceases. These symptoms can include dizziness, headaches, and mood swings.
While recovering users will experience the most extreme symptoms within the initial two week period of ceasing Tramadol use, a variety of typically less severe withdrawal symptoms can persist for months. These symptoms are commonly referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS for short.
Tramadol led to nearly 55,000 trips to the emergency room in the year 2011 alone, which in and of itself greatly highlights the abuse potential of the medication. While Tramadol acts on the same receptors as other opioids, it also acts as a serotonin reuptake blocker.
Those abusing Tramadol will often have a strong desire to take ever-increasing doses of the medication in order to achieve a stronger high. This can lead to seizures and serotonin syndrome, which accounts for the high number of emergency room visits every year.
So what does this mean?
The FDA in 2014 finally acknowledged that Tramadol was much more addictive than initially thought, and placed it on the list of controlled medications with the majority of other opioids.
The previously held belief that Tramadol was a “safe opioid” is largely considered to be inaccurate. Tramadol addiction is certainly possible, and those struggling with it should seek treatment.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.