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Tramadol Addiction and Rehab

Pain killer capsules called "Tramadol HCL" with drug powder on white

Published: August 16, 2023

Tramadol addiction can have an immense impact on many areas of your life. Much like other substance addictions, it affects countless people across the country.

Occurring when a person becomes reliant on tramadol, drug addiction can be challenging to overcome, but it is possible to treat.

There are many evidence-based treatment options for people with a tramadol addiction.

Read on to learn more about tramadol addiction and rehabilitation services.

Why Does Tramadol Lead to Addiction?

Tramadol is a painkiller that is classified as an opioid. Opioids are highly addictive drugs, and tramadol is no exception to this.

Under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tramadol is a Schedule IV controlled substance. It comes under brand names including Ultram and Conzip.

Like other opioids and opiates, tramadol works by acting on the central nervous system, specifically the opioid receptors in the brain, to reduce moderate to severe pain.

Over time, people find that they are reliant on the drug or need higher doses of it to feel the same analgesic effects.

Both of these situations can be paths to tramadol addiction. That being said, tramadol is considered to have a lower risk of addiction compared to other narcotics like oxycodone.

Tramadol Abuse vs. Tramadol Addiction

Because tramadol is a prescribed drug, not all tramadol use is considered abuse. It’s important to understand what is considered abuse. However, there is a difference between tramadol abuse and tramadol addiction.

Tramadol misuse can occur when the medication is used in higher doses than prescribed, used more frequently than prescribed, or unprescribed. It’s essential to note that abuse can often lead to addiction.

Addiction, on the other hand, is different from abuse as it occurs when an individual starts to mentally rely on tramadol to function. In other words, people with tramadol addictions feel a compulsory need to use the drug.

Does Tramadol Cause Dependence?

Yes, tramadol can cause dependence. As mentioned previously, tramadol is an opioid, and opioids can cause physical dependence.

But what is physical dependence? Physical dependence occurs when your body starts to rely on a substance to function properly. When you deprive your body of that substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms in response.

Tramadol dependence happens with repeated and prolonged drug use and is particularly common with opioids.

Signs of a Tramadol Addiction

It can be difficult to detect substance use disorder in a loved one or even in yourself. That being said, there are some warning signs and symptoms of tramadol addiction you can keep an eye out for.

Signs of tramadol addiction can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Pupil constriction
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Itchiness
  • Inability to stop thinking about tramadol
  • Taking higher doses of tramadol for the same effects
  • Taking tramadol frequently
  • Withdrawal from relationships or responsibilities
  • Mood swings

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol can cause physical dependence, which can in turn cause withdrawal symptoms. Understanding opioid withdrawal symptoms can be very useful in identifying suspected abuse or addiction.

Symptoms of tramadol withdrawal may include:

  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Cravings for tramadol
  • Shaking
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach cramping
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils

Trying to detox from tramadol, or any addictive substance, on your own can be very dangerous. If you’re noticing withdrawal symptoms after stopping use of a drug, seeking professional medical care is essential.

Side Effects of Tramadol Abuse

Abusing any drug can have dangerous side effects – both short-term and long-term. These can affect both your physical and mental health.

Short-term effects are those that occur immediately after you abuse tramadol, whereas long-term effects occur after prolonged use. Both types of side effects can cause lasting damage.

Short-term effects can include:

  • Seizure
  • Slowed breathing
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Purple lips or fingernails
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin
  • Limp body
  • Tramadol overdose
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Death

Long-term effects can include:

  • Memory problems
  • Impaired cognition
  • Mental health disorders
  • Intestinal damage from chronic constipation
  • Damage to the heart, lungs, or kidneys

Risk Factors for Tramadol Addiction

While it’s possible for anyone to develop a tramadol addiction, there are several risk factors that make individuals more likely to become addicted.

General addiction risk factors can include family history of addiction, mental illness, exposure to drugs at a young age, peer pressure, and lack of family involvement.

For tramadol addiction in particular, risk factors include the above as well as:

  • Being prescribed tramadol for a surgery or pain
  • Being prescribed a high dose of tramadol
  • Being prescribed tramadol for a prolonged period
  • Being prescribe extended-release or long-acting tramadol
  • Chronic pain
  • Aged 65 or older
  • Young adults aged 18-25
  • Asthma, sleep apnea, or COPD

Diagnosing Tramadol Addiction

A true diagnosis for tramadol addiction can only be given by a medical professional following a medical evaluation. If you notice signs of tramadol addiction in yourself or someone else, it’s best to recommend they see a doctor.

It can be difficult for people to accept that they might have a substance abuse problem, so some people choose to approach the topic through an intervention with friends and family.

When you see a healthcare provider for an addiction diagnosis, they will use a medical evaluation to analyze different areas of your life as well as behavioral patterns.

Once you receive a diagnosis, your doctor will likely recommend addiction treatment and may even have suggestions as to what type of treatment you should seek out.

Tramadol Addiction Treatment Options

There are many substance abuse treatment options you may choose to pursue for treating tramadol addiction. Depending on your needs, you may seek one type of treatment or multiple.

Opioid Detox

Medical detoxification is a treatment service that helps remove any remaining tramadol from the body. It can be provided in both inpatient and outpatient settings, usually at the start of treatment.

During detox, your care team will ensure that you detox safely by monitoring your vitals, administering any necessary medications or treatments, and helping you manage any withdrawal symptoms you experience.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based treatment option particularly used in opioid addictions, though it can be used in other addictions.

MAT uses FDA-approved medications to treat addiction by managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms as well as increasing the likelihood of long-lasting recovery.

Medications you may encounter in MAT include methadone, Suboxone, and buprenorphine. MAT is usually provided for extended periods of time, sometimes a year or longer. Tapering off of the medication over time is common with MAT.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehabilitation offers the highest level of care of any addiction treatment services. This is because inpatient treatment requires participants to live in the treatment facility through the duration of their program. Doing so allows for round-the-clock care.

During inpatient treatment, you’ll likely have a very structured schedule every day. Inpatient programs use a combination of treatment services to form a comprehensive treatment approach.

Inpatient rehab programs can vary in length, whether this be 30 days or a year. You’ll likely be able to determine what is best for you.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is another very effective approach to addiction recovery. Considered a step-down from inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab requires participants to travel to a treatment facility several times a week rather than residing in it.

Like inpatient treatment, outpatient rehabilitation often involves a combination of treatment methods. Some people choose to enroll in an outpatient program after completing an inpatient program while others start in outpatient care due to limitations.

There are also variations of outpatient care that are steps in between inpatient and outpatient treatment. These include intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs).

What Happens After Tramadol Rehab?

After completing a tramadol rehab program, many people choose to participate in different activities/groups to help ease their transition and foster a support system to prolong recovery.

One option you may choose to pursue is attending local support groups. Support groups are a fantastic opportunity to connect with your peers, form new relationships, and find a sense of accountability in your recovery. A common support group type people choose is 12-step meetings.

Another option following tramadol rehab is aftercare, sometimes called continuing care. This is essentially any treatment service you choose to continue after completing your rehab program.

Aftercare varies quite a bit between individuals but can include services like MAT, therapy, or counseling.

Lastly, you may find it beneficial to move into sober housing following your treatment program. Sober living options allow for a completely drug and alcohol free environment as well as support from peers.

Sober housing can make it easier to transition from a treatment program to daily life, making relapse less likely.

Who Can Benefit From Tramadol Rehab?

Anyone who is experiencing signs and symptoms of tramadol addiction may benefit from tramadol rehab. As a disclaimer, it’s recommended to get a professional diagnosis first.

Tramadol rehabilitation can have numerous benefits in nearly every area of one’s life.

Benefits of tramadol treatment may include:

  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced risk of overdose
  • Reduced risk of death
  • Improved personal and professional relationships
  • Restoring familial bonds
  • Improved professional life
  • Improved mental health disorders
  • Reduced financial consequences due to addiction
  • Overall improved well-being

How to Prevent Relapse After Tramadol Rehab

Relapse prevention is an incredibly important part of addiction recovery. Though getting through treatment can be challenging, it’s valuable to have a relapse prevention plan before returning to your normal schedule.

Going back to your day-to-day life after completing a rehab program can introduce stressors and pressures that can increase the likelihood of relapse, having relapse prevention strategies can reduce work against this.

Relapse prevention methods can include:

  • Receiving counseling or therapy
  • Learning health coping skills or mechanisms
  • Finding new positive hobbies to keep yourself busy
  • Joining new social groups
  • Building a support system among family members and friends
  • Joining support groups

Find Help for Yourself or a Loved One with Tramadol Addiction

Tramadol addiction can be life-threatening and destructive. Luckily, there are many treatment options that can help you manage your addiction.

If you have more questions regarding tramadol addiction and treatment, give the RehabNet helpline a call today.

Tramadol Addiction FAQs

Is tramadol a drug of dependence?

Yes, tramadol can be a drug of dependence. Because tramadol is an opioid, it is possible to experience physical dependence on the medication. This is more likely when tramadol is abused.

Physical dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms and lead to addiction over time.

What are the side effects of tramadol abuse?

There are many short-term and long-term side effects of tramadol abuse. Short-term side effects can occur immediately after use and for several days following use while long-term side effects tend to occur following long-term use.

Some side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, overdose, memory problems, weight gain, impaired cognition, mental health disorders, seizure, and reduced appetite.

Does long-term use of tramadol cause memory loss?

Yes, long-term use of tramadol can cause memory loss. This is because opioids affect the central nervous system (which includes the brain) and abuse or prolonged use can cause permanent damage to the brain.

This can result in issues such as memory loss or impaired cognitive functions.

Can tramadol cause psychosis?

Yes, tramadol can cause psychosis. Withdrawal symptoms, which occur due to physical dependence on the drug, can include mental health side effects like psychosis, paranoia, or irritability.

This is more likely when tramadol is being abused or used irresponsibly than when being used as prescribed.

Can you recover from tramadol addiction?

Tramadol addiction cannot be cured. It can, however, be treated and managed with the right care. Many people are able to achieve long-lasting recovery and sobriety from tramadol addiction after receiving professional addiction treatment.

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