Tramadol is often described as a safe pain medication that not only enables individuals to quell their long-term pain, but isn’t as addictive as other drugs. Although it is marketed as safer to take, Tramadol still contains an opioid.
Tramadol is classed as a narcotic just like codeine and oxycodone. A number of countries, especially the United States, are experiencing opioid epidemics due to the high volume of prescriptions that doctors hand out for drugs such as tramadol. These drugs are also bought on the street.
In 2014, it was revealed that doctors in the U.S. wrote 44 million prescriptions of tramadol to patients. Tramadol’s addictiveness and effects have made it a controlled substance in the U.S.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2714818/
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is approved to treat pain in adults. The pain is classed as severe pain and often, is considered long-term.2https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/6_1_Update.pdf The dosage is determined on a patient by patient basis. Doctors will prescribe the lowest effective dosages to patients for the shortest amount of time. Addiction often occurs when patients become tolerant to the pain medication and up their own dosage.3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4100774/ In addition, patients who can use a lower potency pain medication may be prescribed tramadol as they oversell their need for help.
How does Tramadol work?
The pain medication works by suppressing pain and blocking it from the central nervous system.4https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0310057X0002800403 After the pain is suppressed, individuals feel a sensation of calmness and relaxation. Individuals can often become tolerant of Tramadol’s effects. Tolerance leads to individuals taking higher doses of Tramadol or ingesting it more frequently. The more a person takes of Tramadol, the more likely it is that the brain’s chemical messengers can alter the structure and pathways of the brain. This can become permanent over long exposure to Tramadol.
Withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol
Compared to other opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, tramadol works differently. Oxycodone and hydrocodone create a high in individuals. Tramadol blocks neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters cannot be reabsorbed into the body.5https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-88-470-2278-2_45
Individuals may go through two phases of Tramadol withdrawal. Individuals may experience some or all of these symptoms in the first phases, early opioid withdrawal:
- Runny nose
- Muscle and/or body aches
- Difficulty sleeping and/or insomnia
- Increased anxiety
- Restlessness and agitation
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
The second phase of Tramadol withdrawal is known as late opioid withdrawal. Symptoms include:
- Stomach pain and/or cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Pupil dilation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drug cravings
Getting help for Tramadol withdrawal
Withdrawal from Tramadol has been described as similar to the flu. Individuals experience physical symptoms that peak within a few days. After the physical withdrawal symptoms leave, individuals must deal with the psychological issues created by drug addiction.
Individual may undergo medical detox to get off of Tramadol. Individuals who are dependent on Tramadol should gradually stop taking the drug. Like other opioids, suddenly stopping the use of the drug could have adverse effects.
Three forms of medical detox are recommended to end the addiction to Tramadol. These include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, and allow individuals to recover their lives.
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References: Tramadol Withdrawal
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