Tramadol is a mild opioid that’s used to treat moderate pain. In some cases, it can be used to treat more severe pain, but it’s a relatively weak opioid, and there may be better options. The drug is used to treat pain that’s caused by injuries, post-surgery, and chronic sources. It’s also being investigated as a treatment for fibromyalgia. Though it’s a weaker opioid option, it can still cause constipation, itchiness, nausea, and other uncomfortable side effects.
It can also lead to serious issues like dependence and addiction when it’s abused. Like other opioids, it can cause sedation and euphoria in a high enough dose. However, Tramadol is about one-tenth the strength of morphine, and it’s categorized as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That means that the government considers it to have a low potential for abuse and dependence. Still, abuse and long-term use of the drug can lead to a substance use disorder.
What Are the Signs of Tramadol Addiction?
Addiction is identified by compulsive drug use, even after the drug has caused significant consequences. It’s diagnosed as a severe substance use disorder, and it often follows a period of abuse. Tramadol abuse is any use beyond what’s prescribed, especially with the intention to achieve a euphoric high.
Tramadol addiction can cause some signs of frequent acute effects like intoxication, sedation, fatigue, confusion, itchiness, and flu-like withdrawal symptoms. It can also cause some behavioral signs, including:
- Doctor shopping
- Strange sleep schedules
- Needing larger doses to feel high
- Hiding drugs
- Lying about drug use
- Escalating to more potent opioids
- Financial issues
- Legal issues
- Mixing tramadol with other drugs
- Trying and failing to cut back
How Does Treatment for Tramadol Work?
Addiction treatment involves a multidisciplinary process that’s designed to address multiple aspects of your life that may be affected by a substance use disorder. Addiction is a complex disease that can come with a variety of underlying issues. Biomedical, psychological, and social issues are addressed.
Medical detox is often the first step in addiction treatment. It involves 24-hour medical managed treatment that’s typically reserved for people that may experience life-threatening withdrawal. However, opioids like tramadol don’t typically cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms, though they can be unpleasant. In some cases, withdrawal can complicate other health conditions, making NCBI necessary.
Addiction treatment may also involve other levels of care, including inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. Through these levels of care, you will regularly meet with a therapist, first to formulate your personalized treatment plan, and then to reassess and discuss your progress. You may also go through group and family therapy sessions and a variety of other therapy options.
How Dangerous Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a weak opioid, so it’s not as dangerous as other prescription or illicit opioids. However, in high enough doses, it can cause potentially deadly effects. Opioids slow down the nervous system, which is what causes its sedating effects. However, in high doses, it can start to suppress important functions of the nervous system like your heart rate and breathing. Fatal overdoses of tramadol can cause respiratory depression, which can lead to oxygen deprivation, coma, and death.