Did you know that 90 percent of Americans who have substance use disorders are not receiving the help they require? While the United States is dealing with a crisis never faced in the history of this country, the government has taken measures to make sure its citizens have access to the treatment they need. In all cases of addiction, it really is a matter of life or death, and ensuring that people have access to treatment should be a top priority for treating this epidemic.
Opioid addiction can be traced back centuries. Opium dens were popular places to frequent by residents of San Francisco during the gold rush in 1849, which is when some regulations were placed on the drugs. Opium, which is derived from poppy plants, was one of the first known pain medications. Before their addictive characteristics were known, morphine and heroin were freely prescribed to treat pain and other ailments in the late 1800s. This was soon observed to be disastrous and more efforts were put into making sure this never became a problem.
OxyContin and Percocet are common when treating long-term chronic pain, but physicians wanted less-addictive alternatives. Tramadol was introduced in 1977 as the “save-all” medication that could provide adequate relief and possess less risk of the user becoming addicted. In the 1990s, Tramadol was introduced to the United States where it became notorious for its addiction potential. Its misuse became widespread, and the medication that was supposed to do the opposite of more powerful drugs did not deliver on its promise.
Drugs like Tramadol have contributed to this crisis we are facing, but the government has stepped in and taken control. Doctors are more selective of who they prescribe opioids to and have become well-versed in identifying people who exhibit addictive traits. In a lot of cases, high doses of opioid medications have been reduced to shut down this problem they created. This has had an adverse effect because when someone is in active addiction, they will stop at nothing to get their fix.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that is used in the treatment of pain after minor surgical procedures or chronic pain. It was first approved in the United States in 1995 sold under the name Ultram. It comes in different forms such as extended-release and long-acting tablets that provide relief for longer durations of time. Tramadol affects the brain differently from most opioids, and researchers are still not sure how it works. It is said, however, that it is similar to morphine.
Tramadol works on the central nervous system (CNS) by binding to opioid receptors. The receptors alter how the body and brain receive messages about pain. This drug was initially thought to be a safer alternative to strong opioids, but it can become habit-forming with long-term use. This can lead to a substance use disorder that results in addiction over time. If you’re prescribed Tramadol and believe you’re becoming dependent on the drug, consult with your doctor about your options immediately.
What Are The Signs of Tramadol Addiction?
Opioid abuse can lead to dependency, and this includes Tramadol. The harsh reality is that this can lead to addiction which holds the potential to ruin lives. Those who abuse Tramadol recreationally often crush the pills into a powder and snort it for a more intense high that has a quicker onset. By consuming the drug in this fashion, it bypasses the time-release feature, and that can result in an overdose. Signs of abuse could range from confusion, drowsiness, confusion, suppressed breathing, and even death. Tramadol does have outward signs to pay attention to such as:
- Using in ways inconsistent with its purpose
- Mixing with other drugs
- Strained relationships with family or friends
- Running out of Tramadol before prescription expires
- Purchasing the drug without a prescription
- Doctor shopping for multiple prescriptions
- Pinned pupils
- Slurred speech
- Appetite changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired coordination
- Inability to concentrate
When someone uses Tramadol on a regular basis and runs out or stops using it, they can experience withdrawal symptoms. This is common for those who attempt to stop drug use cold turkey. Addiction specialists across the board advise strongly against stopping on your own. If you are serious about achieving sobriety long-term, you must seek out treatment to ensure you do it safely and efficiently. Withdrawal symptoms from Tramadol can include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Body aches
- Runny nose
How Does Treatment for Tramadol Work?
Coming to grips with your addiction and realizing that you have a problem is tough to admit. This may be the hardest realization you’ll ever have, and taking the next step to enter treatment will be just as hard. The first step in the treatment process is undergoing and completing medical detoxification. This is a three- to seven-day stint where you will remove all foreign and addictive substances from your body in a controlled environment. This will take place in an intensive 24-hour supervised center where you will be monitored by medical professionals. They will be there to answer any questions or provide medications to help with your withdrawal symptoms if needed.
The format of treatment is solidified, but each experience will differ from one individual to another. It is very unpredictable when someone is detoxing from drugs. You will not experience the same dangers during Tramadol detox as you would from barbiturates or benzodiazepines, but it is still something that requires a professional’s guidance. They could provide you with drugs like Suboxone or methadone to mitigate withdrawal symptoms.
When the client is observed as stable, the staff will place them in the next level of care that best fits their needs. Upon admission to detox, they will have fully assessed the client and determined their path of care. This could mean the client will be placed in either residential treatment or an outpatient program. This will vary based on the user, and the staff will take into consideration the client’s history of drug use, drug(s) used, home environment, and history of relapse. In most cases, the client will be placed into a residential treatment facility where they will live on-site anywhere from 30-to-90 days.
The more time someone spends in treatment, the higher the likelihood they will achieve long-term sobriety. There is no exact length as it will all be predicated on a person-to-person basis. During their time in treatment, they will attend a variety or therapies geared toward treating the root of their addiction. The most common and widely accepted form of treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps the client better understand how to view, manage, and adjust their response to triggers. This will allow the recovering user to get to the root of the addiction and change their behaviors or adopt new ones.
How Dangerous Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is very dangerous when it is taken in ways not prescribed. When the drug is consumed in large doses, it can cause overdoses that result in fatalities. If you believe that someone you love has overdosed on Tramadol, there are signs to look for such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Pinned pupils
- Slowed heartbeat
- Extreme drowsiness
- Muscle weakness
- Clammy skin
Overdosing is an emergency and should be treated as such. It requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone has overdosed, you must call 911 immediately. This will help reduce the chances of death or major injuries. First-responders may administer a drug called naloxone (brand name Narcan) that will block the drug’s effects on the body. Never risk someone’s life or fear calling 911.
Tramadol Abuse Statistics
- In 2016, synthetic opioids were involved in 50% of opioid-related deaths.
- Males ages 25-44 made up the largest demographic of people affected by overdose.
- During the first years of availability in the United States, Tramadol was only abused in between one and three cases.
Are You Struggling With Tramadol Addiction?
Addiction can be a very lonely disease, but it’s important to know that you’re never alone. If you’re suffering from a Tramadol addiction, Serenity at Summit can help. We offer a unique approach to addiction treatment that will allow you to feel dignified along with never feeling like you’re on this journey alone. We can be the support team you’ve needed all along.