Tramadol Addiction and Abuse


Tramadol Addiction and Abuse

Tramadol is also referred to as Tramadol Hydrochloride, a centrally-acting drug that is prescribed for a wide variety of different applications. The primary use for this drug is to treat moderate and severe forms of pain, though typically for specific ailments or causes rather than as a general pain reliever. Tramadol is perceived to be a narcotic-like pain reliever that comes in several forms including an extended-release form.


The half-life for Tramadol is considered to be 5.5 to 7 hours, and it can typically be taken throughout the day as needed or on a schedule in order to prevent pain.

Tramadol is a generic name for a number of brand-name medications, including Ultram ER, Ultram, Ryzolt and Rybix ODT. This drug is classified as being an opioid analgesic or an opioid agonist, which means that it is used for treating pain.

Why is Tramadol Prescribed?

Tramadol's primary purpose is to relieve pain between moderate and severe in intensity. The most common form of Tramadol is an extended-release format which is used to continue relieving pain around the clock. Tramadol is generally designed to be used over a long period of time because the propensity for addiction or abuse is lower here than with other similar pain relievers. The way that this medication works is by changing how the body experiences pain, creating a perceived elimination of the pain.

Two of the conditions that Tramadol is prescribed to treat by physicians include restless leg syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder involving pain in the muscles, so Tramadol is a common choice for treatment. Because Fibromyalgia means that the patient will suffer from chronic and consistent pain, the around-the-clock nature of the Tramadol makes it a wise choice for this purpose. Tramadol may also be prescribed to treat pain in individuals that are more likely to develop a dependence to other analgesic medications.

Statistics Relating To Tramadol

According to the Food and Drug Administration, between 1995 and 2004 there were 766 reported cases of abuse involving the drug Tramadol, as well as 482 cases of withdrawal from Tramadol. Something to consider here is that the numbers are probably much larger, but many cases of Tramadol addiction and abuse go unreported.

Tramadol is generally perceived to have a smaller potential for abuse in comparison to other pain killing medications including Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and Morphine among others, but this does not mean that Tramadol can be taken for long periods of time without the potential of addiction occurring.

How is Tramadol Abused

Tramadol may not be classified as being a controlled substance in most of the United States, but that does not mean that it does not offer the potential for abuse. Long-term use is capable of creating a physical dependence on this drug, which is common with many pain relievers or analgesic products.

The way that Tramadol is most commonly abused is by taking it in increasing amounts or taking it in a manner not recommended by a physician or the prescription. Abuse can also occur when someone continues to take Tramadol beyond how long he or she is meant to or against the recommendations of a physician. Physical dependency on Tramadol is not uncommon, but recognizing the signs and discontinuing the use of this medication is essential when physical dependency occurs.

What Effects Does Tramadol Have on the Body?

The way that opioids work is by affecting human opiate receptors. They create a number of responses in the body, including a weak agonist action against opioid receptors that release Serotonin. This inhibits Norepinephrine reuptake, which can reduce the feeling of pain. As a synthetic analog of Codeine, Tramadol is metabolized as O-Desmethyltramadol rather than as Morphine.

Tramadol Abuse Treatment Options

The primary step in treating Tramadol addiction is to find a different analgesic medication that the patient can use in place of the Tramadol. Behavior therapy as well as changes in the social environment can also play a role in treating addiction to or abuse of Tramadol. When a patient is abusing Tramadol to the point where they are taking more pills than they are meant to, it is generally recommended that they slowly be weaned off of the medication, at least back down to the normal dosage. If a pain medication is still required, such as is the case with Fibromyalgia, then the most common treatment option is to choose a different analgesic or painkiller medication that can be used in Tramadol's place.

For many who abuse Tramadol, a professional drug addiction rehabilitation facility is needed. Here, they can detox safely and receive professional counseling and therapy sessions that work with each patient in order to secure their sobriety after leaving the program.

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