Tramadol Hydrochloride, or Ultram to use its brand name, is a synthetic opioid used for chronic pain relief and has a very similar chemical composition to narcotic opioids. Tramadol binds itself to opioid receptors, which in turn scrambles the nervous system communication between pain points and the brain.
In most countries, Tramadol is available in pill format as either a slow-release tablet (usually 50 or 100mg) or a fast-acting, green and yellow 50mg capsule. A lesser available solution is a low-dose 25mg tablet and paracetamol combination.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
The short answer is yes, very much so. Tramadol is extremely helpful for millions worldwide suffering from chronic pain. However, there is absolutely no denying that this is a highly addictive drug, despite what your doctor might tell you.
The problem stems from the length of time you take the drug, together with the daily dosage. One or two fast-acting daily pills would be enough for most people to combat medium pain. For those suffering from more chronic pain issues, three or four daily pills should, in most cases, be enough to help.
The safest, most responsible way to use this drug is to take it as a short-term solution at a relatively low dose for no more than two or three weeks. Tramadol addiction, however, becomes a real threat when the duration of treatment is months rather than weeks.
As a habit develops, the brain requires more of the drug to work, and therein lies the issue: an awful cycle begins where you might exceed the recommended maximum dose of 400mg per day and develop a nasty habit over the long term.
People with a history of substance abuse are far more likely to suffer Tramadol dependence than others, and those with previous opioid addiction issues are strongly advised to seek alternative options.
What Are The Effects of Tramadol?
As mentioned, the single purpose of Tramadol is to act as a painkiller. However, there is a particular side effect of a warm, relaxed, quite mellow mood that has, in turn, led to high cases of substance abuse problems.
The feeling you will likely experience after taking Tramadol is similar to any other opioid narcotic common in substance abuse. Usually, around 45 minutes after ingesting, you will notice a very pronounced feeling of well-being and, in some cases, even slight euphoria. This is due to the anti-depressive effects of Tramadol and is a leading cause of physical dependence abuse and subsequent Tramadol addiction.
For long-term abusers deep in the grips of Tramadol addiction, those early ‘high’ feelings are hard to attain as the chemical balance adjusts within the brain, and those euphoric feelings are replaced with a more subdued, sleepy, sometimes even quite listless persona.
For many, this more 'doped-up' effect of Tramadol addiction is sometimes quite an unpleasant feeling, forming part of the abusive cycle. To chase those initial euphoric feelings, users will sometimes take more pills to find that sweet spot ‘high’ they once enjoyed.
But My Doctor Said It Isn't Addictive?
The answer to this is simple. Imagine a small, inexpensive painkiller that rivals potent narcotics such as Oxycontin but without the same addictive qualities. A pain remedy that is long-lasting, highly effective, and free of the notorious side effects usually associated with substance abuse. That would probably seem too good to be true, wouldn't it? Well, it is.
For many years, since it was first released onto the market in 1995, Tramadol was considered by most doctors throughout the world as a less habit-forming and more ‘safe’ medicine to treat pain. As a result, it became widely prescribed as an alternative to more harmful, addictive painkillers.
Only recently have many doctors begun to understand the potential harm associated with this drug, owing to an alarming and widespread rise in Tramadol addiction leading to millions of addicts and thousands of deaths each year.
This false (but recently changing) opinion amongst many doctors stems from the early clinical trials that reported very low instances of addiction. This is misleading because the trial was conducted using intravenous Tramadol, injected at low doses. In pill form, Tramadol is far more potent and way more addictive.
Tramadol Addiction Symptoms
At low doses, symptoms are tricky to spot in a user unless you know what to look for. The most obvious indicators of Tramadol addiction are dilated pupils, occasional nausea, drowsiness, and a lower appetite.
In higher doses, the symptoms are the same but more exaggerated. Drowsiness will intensify, creating slurred speech. Occasional nausea has been replaced by actual vomiting. Coordination may be skewed, as the nervous system is off balance and not functioning correctly.
You might notice the user has become way more conversational - maybe even overly chatty - than they usually are. Frequent drinking might be evident owing to a dry mouth. In addition, the user's appearance might change with weight loss and a generally more tired, dishevelled appearance.
At dangerously high doses, quite alarming symptoms might become apparent with the addiction, along with everything mentioned above. Tramadol impairs the respiratory system at high doses, which can cause shallow, intermittent breathing during sleep. Dark patches under the user's eyes, along with a gaunt, tired-looking face, might appear.
As the brain's chemical balance changes quite radically, occasional or sometimes frequent jerking and twitching become a regular event; these are, in fact, very mild seizures, which will get worse in time and could be fatal if the abuse persists.
Again, Tramadol is relatively safe at low doses, with minimal potential for serious health risks. The problem with Tramadol addiction is that low doses are rarely taken, with many addicts exceeding the recommended daily dose.
One of the most glaring dangers of Tramadol abuse is a phenomenon known as serotonin syndrome. This is when the brain's serotonin receptors become flooded with too much serotonin and become overwhelmed. Serotonin syndrome is a dangerous, potentially fatal event involving a rapid heart rate, shaking, sweating, and highly slurred speech that can lead to losing consciousness and eventual coma.
An equally severe but far more common danger with Tramadol abuse, especially at high doses, is the threat of seizures. There is a possibility of seizures at low doses, although the chances are slim. At high doses, however, there is an extreme possibility of suffering frequent minor seizures daily and more severe seizures less frequently. Episodes are more common in people with epilepsy or those taking an SSRI anti-depressant.
As mentioned previously, Tramadol suppresses the respiratory system, which, aside from being an unpleasant and highly unnatural sensation, can be quite deadly, with a very real possibility of the respiratory system failing. The potential for breathing problems is compounded if taking alcohol or any other form of narcotic (both legal and illegal).
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
PAWS, or Post Acute Withdrawal symptoms, are particularly brutal during Tramadol withdrawal and, if not appropriately managed, can pose a risk to life. At low doses, addicts will experience withdrawal symptoms such as runny nose, fever, coughing, general aches and pains, headaches, and nausea. Hot and cold flushes are pretty common, as are diarrhoea and a frequent need to urinate.
Combined with this are other unpleasant psychological features. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly challenging to overcome at this stage without adequate support. As the user's brain chemistry recalibrates, intense depression and general sadness will occur within 24-48 hours of the last dose.
Further symptoms include a strange and unexplained phenomenon known as 'brain zaps,' an uncomfortable sensation of the user's brain jolting, almost like an electric shock.
More severe symptoms of tramadol withdrawal might include near-suicidal depression with feelings of abject fear and desperation.
Your Personalized Recovery Process
If you or a loved one are suffering from physical dependence of tramadol, our drug rehab program for tramadol has the highest success rate in Asia. With more than 85% of long term clients now in full recovery from addiction, there is help available in a beautiful Thai tropical paradise, surrounded by experts in the field of drug abuse.
Battling tramadol addiction alone and without support can be risky and often lead to frequent relapses with further abuse and addiction. Our treatment centre is fully set up for people in the grip of opioid withdrawal, with luxurious residential care, professional support, and a thorough aftercare program that will not only help reduce withdrawal symptoms but provide you with the best possible chance of overcoming tramadol misuse in the long term.
If you need help, feel free to get in touch with us anytime day or night. Overcoming this terrible addiction with you will be our absolute priority, and together, we will help make your drug abuse a thing of the past.
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