Tramadol is a narcotic painkiller that is designed to be less addictive than other, similar medications, like OxyContin or Vicodin. This medication is listed as Schedule IV, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, because of its low potential for abuse or psychological dependence compared to other narcotic pain relievers. Doctors can prescribe tramadol to treat moderate, severe, or even chronic pain, as the medication comes in both an immediate-release pill and an extended-release option for all-day pain management.
Tramadol does still carry risks for abuse or addiction. The medication is an opiate, so people who have struggled with addiction to intoxicating substances, including opioid drugs, are still at risk of becoming addicted to tramadol. Additionally, some individuals attempt to experience a tramadol “high” by bypassing the medication’s safety features. One of these methods involves crushing and snorting the pills in order to bypass the slower release through the digestive system and force the drug directly into the bloodstream.
Overdose, Addiction, Dependence, and Tolerance
People who abuse tramadol or become addicted to this substance can suffer several side effects, even if they ingest the drug orally. In large doses, tramadol can cause seizures and serotonin syndrome, a condition that can lead to agitation, confusion, rapid heart rate, fever, heart attack, and even death.
When tramadol pills are crushed and snorted, these effects are compounded. The intoxicating substance can pass through the thin mucous membranes in the nose without being filtered through the digestive system. This means more tramadol ends up in the bloodstream, and it begins to affect the brain much faster. Fast-hitting effects mean that a person experiences the tramadol high much more quickly, and they are at a much greater risk of taking too much tramadol. Overdose can happen much more quickly.
Snorting tramadol can also increase the potential for addiction, dependence, and tolerance to develop. Because the brain experiences tramadol’s dopamine-releasing effects more suddenly, the reward system that normally controls dopamine can demand more tramadol in order to experience that feeling of happiness and contentment. Over time, the brain may not be able to manufacture or control dopamine without the help of tramadol, which is called dependence.
Tolerance to oral tramadol can lead some people to begin crushing and snorting the pills in order to bypass the slow release through the stomach and intestines. A person develops tolerance to a medication when they need a larger dose to feel the original euphoria or other effects.