If someone that you care about has been abusing tramadol, they are at risk for both immediate damage and long-term harm. Your understanding of how this drug effects people, and your ability to identify the signs of addiction to tramadol, can be vital tools in your effort to get your loved one the help they need.
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic. Available only by prescription, it is typically used to treat moderate to severe pain. It may be taken as a liquid, tablet, or capsule.
Tramadol is the generic name for this drug. It is also sold under the brand names Conzip and Qdolo, as well as Ultracet (which contains a combination of tramadol and acetaminophen).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that tramadol not be used by pregnant women or children under age 12. Additionally, the FDA advises that tramadol use by adolescents age 13-18 should be limited to specific circumstances.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
Yes, tramadol is an addictive substance.
Tramadol was first approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. in 1995. At the time, it was classified as an uncontrolled substance. However, through the years, evidence of its addictive properties became more apparent. In 2014, tramadol was reclassified as a Schedule IV substance.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Schedule IV indicates that a substance has “low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” Other Schedule IV drugs include Ambien, Valium, and Xanax.
Although tramadol is not as strong as heroin, morphine, and certain other opioids, this does not mean that it is safe to use or abuse this substance. The many potential risks of Tramadol abuse include addiction, overdose, and even death.
How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?
The amount of time that tramadol remains in your system can be influenced by several factors, including which type of the medication you are using and how large of a dose you have taken.
Tramadol usually provides about four to six hours of pain relief. Extended-relief versions of the medication can ease pain for up to 24 hours. However, traces of tramadol will remain in your system even after the drug’s effects have subsided.
For non-extended-relief versions of tramadol, the medication may stay in your bloodstream for about 36 hours. Evidence that you have taken tramadol may remain in your urine for several days. A drug test that involves hair samples may detect tramadol for a month or longer after you last took the medication.
Emotional Signs of Addiction to Tramadol
Potential emotional signs of addiction to tramadol include the following:
- Dramatic mood swings
- Agitation when unable to acquire or use tramadol
- Loss of interest in important events, topics, or hobbies
- Spending significant amounts of time thinking about tramadol
- Difficult focusing or concentrating
Physical Signs of Addiction to Tramadol
The following are possible physical signs of addiction to tramadol:
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Constricted pupils
- Slurring speech
- Impaired coordination
- Powerful cravings for tramadol
Two classic physical signs of tramadol addiction are tolerance and withdrawal:
- Tolerance means that, as a person’s body adapts to the presence of tramadol, the person will need to use larger amounts of the drug to experience the effects that they could previously achieve with a smaller dose.
- Withdrawal means that the person will experience physical (and psychological) distress when they are unable to use tramadol. Withdrawal symptoms can also arise when a person tries to end or significantly reduce the amount and frequency of their tramadol use.
The warning signs of tramadol addiction can also include certain behaviors.
Trying to buy, borrow, or steal tramadol that has been prescribed to someone else can be an indicator that a person has become addicted. Another common behavioral sign of tramadol addiction is visiting several physicians in an attempt to illicitly acquire multiple prescriptions for the drug.
Is Tramadol Abuse Dangerous?
Using any prescription medication in a manner other than directed by the prescribing physician is dangerous. The potential outcomes can vary depending on which drug a person has been abusing. In the case of tramadol, possible effects include addiction, overdose, and death. Even when a person follows their doctor’s guidance, they can still be at risk for negative effects.
A June 2020 study in the journal Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment reported that between 1.6 million and 1.8 million adults in the United States have engaged in tramadol abuse in the previous 12 months.
A March 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that tramadol use among osteoarthritis patients over the age of 50 was associated with a “significantly higher risk of mortality” within one year when compared to patients who were treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Contact Our Tramadol Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles
If you have become dependent on tramadol, or if someone that you care about has been exhibiting signs of addiction to tramadol, please know that effective help is available. LA Detox offers a full continuum of personalized addiction treatment services in a safe and highly supportive environment. Contact us today to learn how we can help.