Tramadol Addiction & Treatment
Tramadol is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. The drug is also marketed under the brand names Ultram, Ultram ER, and Conzip, and is available in combination with the pain reliever acetaminophen under the brand name Ultracet.
Like other opioids or narcotics, tramadol carries a risk of misuse and addiction. Keep reading for more information about the potential effects and risks of tramadol use, and how to get help if you or a loved one has developed an addiction to tramadol.
What Is Tramadol Abuse?
Tramadol abuse is when someone uses the medication without a prescription or in ways other than how its prescribed (e.g., more often or in larger amounts). As an opioid painkiller or narcotic, tramadol is a federally controlled substance with a known potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction.1
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, tramadol is most often misused by patients with chronic pain or opioid addiction. It is also somewhat common among health professionals.2
Reported incidents of tramadol exposure have declined over the years, with an estimated 12,108 exposures in 2016, compared to 6,974 exposures in 2020.2
What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol Abuse?
The most common side effects of tramadol use and misuse include:1
Misuse of tramadol also increases the risk of potentially serious side effects like respiratory depression (i.e., slowed or stopped breathing), which can lead to coma and death.
Physical dependence develops through regular, prolonged use of a drug like tramadol, even when used as a directed by a doctor. Once dependence develops, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop or reduce their use of the drug.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:3
- Anxiety and irritability.
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Muscle aches.
- Watery eyes and runny nose.
- Dilated pupils.
- Goosebumps and chills.
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