Can you get addicted to tramadol? Here’s the truth about this synthetic opioid painkiller.
Tramadol is a synthetic opiate drug that’s used to treat pain. It was released in 1995 under the brand name Ultram and was praised as a powerful painkiller with a low potential for abuse and addiction. For many years, it was widely prescribed as a safer alternative to opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin. But can you get addicted to tramadol?
Turns out, the answer is yes. In the years after its release, there was some concern that people were abusing tramadol and becoming addicted to it, but the Food and Drug Administration left it as an unscheduled drug, which made it easier to obtain. But in response to a growing number of people addicted to tramadol, the Drug Enforcement Agency place tramadol on Schedule IV of the Controlled Substances Act in 2014, indicating that it has medical value and a low potential for abuse–but potential nonetheless.
So while tramadol is now more restricted than it once was, it’s still considered to be less addictive than other opioid medications, and it’s widely prescribed. Nearly 45 million prescriptions were written for tramadol in 2013–double the number prescribed just five years before that.
How Can You Get Addicted to Tramadol?
Tramadol can produce euphoria, and unlike other opioids that can make you drowsy, it can produce feelings of energy. Abusing tramadol – that is, taking it in a way other than as prescribed by a physician – can lead to addiction.
When you abuse tramadol to get high or self-medicate physical or emotional pain, your brain records a memory of the pleasure it produces. Repeated use can lead the brain to equate liking tramadol with wanting it. The result is intense cravings for the drug that drive compulsive use.
Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use despite the negative consequences it causes. Tramadol addiction signs include:
- Taking more tramadol or for longer periods than you intended.
- Experiencing cravings that make it difficult to think about anything else.
- Wanting or trying to cut down or quit but finding you can’t.
- Continuing to use tramadol despite new or worsening physical or mental illnesses.
- Continuing to use tramadol even though it’s causing problems with your relationships.
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed.
- Spending excessive amounts of time seeking, using and recovering from using tramadol.
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors while under the influence.
- Developing a tolerance so that you need more and more tramadol to get the same effects.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking tramadol.
Tolerance and withdrawal indicate dependence, which is a physical reliance on tramadol that occurs when the brain compensates for its presence by changing its chemical function.
Can You Get Addicted to Tramadol If You Take it As Prescribed?
Even for those who take tramadol to control pain, addiction is still possible. But if you take it exactly as prescribed by your doctor, the risk of addiction and dependence is far lower than if you increase your doses yourself. The problem with opioid pain medications is that opioids produce tolerance very quickly. This means that within a short amount of time, a typical dose loses effectiveness, and you need larger doses to get the desired effects. However, as you increase the dosage, the brain continues to compensate for its presence, and at some point, chemical brain function may shift so that the brain now operates more comfortably when tramadol is present than when it’s not. Then, when you stop using it, normal chemical brain function rebounds, and this causes withdrawal symptoms.
It’s possible to become dependent on tramadol – which means your brain needs it to function “normally” – without developing an addiction, which means that you crave it and use it compulsively despite the problems it causes in your life. However, most often, addiction and dependence occur together.
Tramadol Addiction Help
If you have tramadol addiction signs or believe you’ve developed a dependence on tramadol – or both – tramadol addiction help can help you end the addiction for good.
Addiction affects thought and behavior patterns, and it almost always has underlying causes. Successfully treating an addiction requires addressing all of the issues that led to the addiction as well as those that were caused by the addiction. This occurs through a holistic treatment program that uses a variety of traditional and complementary therapies to provide whole-person healing.
The Bottom Line on Tramadol Addiction
So, can you get addicted to tramadol? Yes. But can you end the addiction once and for all? Yes. With professional help through WhiteSands Treatment, you can end a tramadol addiction for the long-term while improving your life on many fronts and increasing your quality of life and wellbeing in the process. Treatment works, and it can work for you, too.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.