In an attempt to create a pain medication that provided relief and lower the odds of developing an addiction, chemists fell short. Unfortunately, Tramadol was created as an alternative to more potent opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone to relieve pain and not be addictive, but the more we know about it, the more we see that’s not true.
In the current state of affairs, the United States is suffering through one of the worst epidemics in its history. The opioid epidemic has ravaged neighborhoods and stolen friends and family alike. The current estimates released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) showed that 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2019, while 50,000 of them were from opioid-related causes.
Tramadol is considered a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because of its classification as an opioid with abuse liability. In 2013, doctors dispensed an eye-popping 43.8 million prescriptions in the United States in 2013 of tramadol, an increase of 88 percent from 23.3 million in 2008.
Tramadol works on monoamine reuptake systems, opioid receptors, and the central nervous system to suppress pain and enhance feelings of relaxation and calm. Continued use of tramadol will interfere with the brain’s chemical messengers and cause physical changes to structures and pathways of the brain. Someone who uses tramadol regularly will become tolerant to its effects, meaning they’ll need higher doses to experience the same impact. This is known as “tolerance.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed a warning on the labels and on the prescribing information for a common brand name that uses tramadol as an active ingredient, Ultram ER, showing that the drug may cause tolerance and dependence in users. Psychological dependence occurs when changes in the brain become fixed, and it doesn’t function the same without tramadol.
Drug dependence might occur even when a drug is used as prescribed, although the onset is much slower than when the drug is abused. Nearly 3.2 million Americans have used tramadol for nonmedical purposes at one point in their lives, according to this report. The odds of becoming dependent on the drug are much higher for someone who abuses it or those with a history of addiction. Tramadol may also lead to dependence when used for long periods of time with a prescription.
Withdrawal is never an easy process, but with opioids, it’s nearly impossible to achieve without help. If you’re concerned about withdrawing from tramadol, you should consider medical detox to help overcome the most challenging step. Let’s take a look below at the symptoms you’ll face.