Tramadol belongs to the class of drugs of opioid narcotic and oral analgesic, the medication prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain.  Tramadol has similar properties as other opioids such as oxycodone, codeine, and fentanyl. Tramadol, however, does not produce such powerful effects as other opioids in this group and is currently classified as a Schedule IV drug. Drugs in this classification have less risk of potential for abuse. While tramadol shares similar characteristics of other opioids, of binding to opioid receptors in the brain and the CNS (central nervous system) to reduce pain sensations, it also responsible for mood enhancement and changes.

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The effects of Tramadol use

While Tramadol may have lesser potency than other opioids, it can still be pretty addictive. Repeated misuse of this drug may lead to addiction. Tramadol may produce the effects common for the CNS depressants, such as slowed breathing and heart rate, all intended to cause sedation and relaxation. Comparable to other opioids, tramadol binds to opioid receptors found in the brain’s reward system responsible for feelings of pain and pleasure. This process of binding opioid receptors release a large flow of dopamine through the body, and subsequently causing euphoric sensations and blocking the pain.  This action makes the user want to repeat taking the drug over and over.  Serious side effects associated with Tramadol abuse may include:

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  • respiratory depression
  • slowed heart rate
  • shallow breathing
  • dizziness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • blackouts
  • low blood pressure
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • coma

Other risks associated with Tramadol abuse may be overdose and death. Some people mix tramadol with other drugs or alcohol, which may result in dangerous and devastating effects, that may lead to coma, respiratory failure, and death.

Tramadol and Addiction

Addiction to tramadol, a prescription drug starts with building a tolerance to the drug. Prolong usage of this opioid, and taking the drug in higher dosages and more frequently, may lead to dependence. It means that the user needs to take higher dosages in order to get the desired effects. If the prescription tramadol is taken properly it may treat the pain, and the patient should not have any problems. However, if the medication is used for a long period of time, the patient may develop dependence. Dependence occurs when a person becomes used to taking the drug, so it becomes impossible for a person to function normally without a drug present in his system. And if the person stops taking the drug, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms. As with other opioids addictions, a tramadol addiction may produce irreparable effects on a person’s physical and mental health.

There are some common signs of addiction:

  • compulsive drug seeking and drug use
  • engaging in risky behaviors
  • inability to stop using drugs
  • inability to perform daily tasks due to drug use
  • neglecting family and friends
  • neglecting responsibilities, such as school, job, work
  • doctor shopping, going from doctor to doctor with intention to get multiple prescriptions
  • isolation due to using drugs
  • financial problems due to drug purchases

Tramadol Detox and treatment

Recovery treatment for tramadol addiction can be performed in an in-patient or outpatient settings. Your medical professional may be able to determine what type of treatment appropriate for you. The decision is made upon medical evaluation that involves physical and mental health screening. The length of the treatment time depends on how long the drugs were taken, what frequency and what amount, and if there is a presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. Each person is unique, so the addiction treatment is different for each person. A medical professional will design the treatment plan based on the personal and individual needs of the patient.

A medically supervised detoxification program may be performed as the initial phase of tramadol addiction treatment. The detox is intended to flush harmful toxins from the patient’s body and break the cycle of substance abuse. During the detox procedure, the patient may experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, as the body getting rid of tramadol elements.

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Addiction medications may be prescribed to help the patient with withdrawal symptoms, and to block opioid receptors to reverse to normal brain function. Some patients may require care around the clock to ensure a safe and effective detox program.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • cold-like symptoms
  • body aches
  • fever
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • agitation

Once the patient is stabilized, the next step is a transition to residential treatment to undergo cognitive-behavioral therapy. The behavioral therapy helps patients change their behaviors about drug use, identify the cause of drug use, learn healthy life skills, learn to cope with life’s stress without using drugs, and obtain techniques to manage triggers and prevent relapse. Medical professionals will monitor and adjust the treatment plan based on individual progress and changes.

Individual and group counseling is provided to reinforce behavioral changes about drug use, and share patients’ recovery experience with their peers.