Home » Blog » Painkiller Problem: Is Tramadol Addictive?

Painkiller Problem: Is Tramadol Addictive?

Apr 16, 2020

Looking for a “safer” version of a drug to provide the same benefits the user seeks is what leads to experimenting with substances that are only perceived to be safe. Without real medical information to support that belief, an individual may misuse a drug, such as tramadol, without knowing the actual information about its addictive properties.

Today let’s look at this prescription painkiller with clarity for anyone using it now or planning to in the future.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-270-1753.

Although considered a low threat for dependence, the prescription painkiller tramadol still possesses addictive properties as an opioid and can lead to harmful side effects from stupor to seizures and even death.

The misuse of a so-called safer drug can happen for many reasons. Due to its low potency, tramadol may be taken more frequently to achieve the desired effect or in higher doses than prescribed. For some professionals, it may be an unauthorized pain management strategy to endure a long workday at the office.

Is Tramadol Addictive?

Despite its classification as a drug with a low threat of abuse and dependence, tramadol can be addictive.

Withdrawal from tramadol, whether ending its use altogether or lowering the dose, can create a variety of symptoms. The withdrawal could sometimes lead to hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks.

Because certain medical professionals have recommended tramadol as not highly addictive, it has been prescribed more often than other opiate-based painkillers. At the same time, many clients are unaware of tramadol’s status, its addictive potential, or the risks involved with abuse.

Any opiate painkillers can be extremely addictive and result in addiction when taken only for their euphoric effects rather than medicinal purposes. Those with a propensity for opioid addiction can quickly become dependent on tramadol and exhibit the same addiction symptoms as with stronger opioid medications.

Tramadol Tolerance and Dependence

Tramadol is technically classified as a Schedule IV drug, meaning there is a smaller potential for abuse than drugs such as Heroin (a Schedule I drug), or OxyContin or Hydrocodone (Schedule II drugs). However, it was added to the FDA’s list of controlled substances in 2014 after increasing reports of tramadol misuse.

With continued use, the brain can get used to the effects of tramadol and tolerance develops. This tolerance means the brain will require higher and higher doses to experience the same effect. Thus, as with all opioid analgesics, the potential for addiction and abuse exists.

This tolerance and physical dependence do not necessarily mean a person is addicted to the drug. At the same time, this may result in compulsive behavior patterns common to opioid addictions typified by compulsive or uncontrolled use. Ultimately this can lead to harmful and long-lasting changes to the brain.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a painkiller prescribed for moderate to severe pain following surgery or associated with chronic back pain and fibromyalgia.

How Strong Is Tramadol?

It’s on par with codeine for strength, so it’s considered one of the weaker prescription opioids. For example, morphine, with a high risk for addiction or dependence, is ten times stronger.

What Are Tramadol’s Side Effects?

The side effects of misusing tramadol may include seizures, stupor, trouble breathing, coma, and death.

Tramadol’s Possible Side Effects

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Itching
  • Low energy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach

What Are the Warnings Signs of a Tramadol Overdose?

Breathing issues are among the top warning signs of a tramadol overdose, and the most severe withdrawal symptoms can include hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks. A safe withdrawal at a treatment facility offering on-site medical detoxification services is recommended for anyone who has developed a dependence on the drug.

Breathing issues tend to be a common warning sign of overdose as the opioid, especially in older users and people with existing respiratory problems.

Tramadol Overdose Warning Signs

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid or slow heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Stupor or coma
  • Tiny pupils
  • Weak or floppy muscles 

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Body aches
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Goosebumps
  • Large pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Look to Headwaters for Professional Tramadol Addiction Treatment

If you feel you have become dependent on tramadol, is available. When researching facilities with programs aligned with your particular needs staffed by a multidisciplinary team experienced in treating tramadol addiction, look for to help safely minimize the symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.

A beneficial program will also offer a combination of treatments, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It can identify any co-occurring mental health issues that may exacerbate a substance abuse disorder.

HeadWaters Headwaters is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

You May Also Like…

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

How Alcohol Affects Your Heart

Amidst the whirlwind of high-profile commitments, daily indulgences might seem like fleeting moments of relaxation....

What Is Alcoholic Myopathy?

What Is Alcoholic Myopathy?

As a long-term drinker, you might be familiar with experiencing a form of muscle weakness without knowing it's called...