Call us today

(972) 848-0221
Menu close
Get Help Now

Our Centers

  • Take the First Step in Las Vegas

    Desert Hope is a beautiful oasis with modern charm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. We provide all levels of care from detox, in-patient, outpatient and sober living.

    Visit Desert Hope Treatment Center Visit Desert Hope Treatment Center
  • A New Life Awaits

    Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.

    Visit Greenhouse Treatment Center Visit Greenhouse Treatment Center
  • The Best Place to Recover in Orange County

    Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County, CA. The first Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital in the OC, we offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.

    Visit Laguna Treatment Hospital Visit Laguna Treatment Hospital
  • Start Recovery at Our Southern Resort

    Take a step back from your life and get the help you need at our premier drug and alcohol addiction center. Nestled in the countryside 1.5 hours from Memphis, Oxford gives you the support you need in a calm and beautiful setting.

    Visit Oxford Treatment Center Visit Oxford Treatment Center
  • Recovery Forecast includes Tropical Weather

    Your recovery can start at either of two premier drug and alcohol treatment facilities in the Greater Miami area - Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, FL. Our specialties include treatment for veterans and first responders.

    Visit Recovery First Treatment Center Visit Recovery First Treatment Center
  • Sunny Florida Welcomes You

    Retreat to the sunny climate of Tampa, Florida for a stay at the gold standard of treatment facilities. We offer customized care plans to help you on your recovery journey.

    Visit River Oaks Treatment Center Visit River Oaks Treatment Center
  • Helping New Englanders Find Recovery for Over 30 years

    Escape to the countryside to recovery in New Jersey’s premier drug rehab & treatment center. Located only an hour from New York City.

    Visit Sunrise House Treatment Center Visit Sunrise House Treatment Center

Tramadol Addiction and Abuse

Tramadol, also known by the brand names Ultram or Ryzolt, is an opioid pain medication for moderate to moderately severe pain. The shorter-acting version may be used after an acute illness or surgery, while there is a longer-acting form that may be used to treat chronic pain. Tramadol is most commonly seen as a tablet, although it is available in a liquid suspension.

Tramadol is only available with a prescription. Since the United States Drug Enforcement Agency listed tramadol as a Schedule IV medication in 2014, it is considered to have a low potential for abuse and a low risk for addiction, but both are still possible. In fact, reported abuse of tramadol is why the medication is now a controlled substance, limited to five refills per prescription; when introduced in 1995, tramadol was not even listed as a controlled substance.

How Tramadol Is Used

When prescribed by a physician, tramadol should be taken exactly as directed. Taking more of the medication than prescribed, taking it more often than prescribed, and taking it for a longer period of time than prescribed are considered forms of misuse. Using tramadol for purposes other than as prescribed is considered abuse. Selling the medication or a prescription is not only abuse, but also illegal.

If tramadol is combined with other depressants, such as alcohol or other narcotics, its effects may be intensified. This can be dangerous, as it can cause an individual’s breathing to slow or even stop, resulting in coma or death.

Effects on the Body

Tramadol works by targeting the central nervous system to relieve pain, and at times, it may produce mood-elevating effects.

Tramadol can produce multiple side effects, most of which are similar to those of other opioid pain medications. Some of these side effects are:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Itching

Tramadol can also produce more serious side effects. These effects are less common and may include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Seizures
  • Skin reactions that may be fatal
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Angioedema (swelling under the skin)
  • Orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure upon standing)
  • Serotonin syndrome (a condition that occurs when individuals are taking two medications that affect serotonin, causing a buildup of serotonin in the brain)

As previously stated, tramadol can cause suicidal thoughts or actions, especially in individuals with a history of mental health diagnoses. If individuals experience this effect, it is crucial that they seek the advice of a medical professional. In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administrationurges physicians not to prescribe tramadol for individuals who may be suicidal.

Individuals who have experienced seizures should avoid tramadol, although it can also cause seizures in those without a seizure disorder as well.

In a study published in Clinical Toxicology, it was reported that in a group of 57 individuals with a history of tramadol abuse, seizures occurred in 31 individuals – 54.4 percent of the group.

Adverse Effects and Overdose

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, there were approximately 54,397 emergency room visits in 2011 that were related to tramadol – half were due to an adverse reaction. The DEA states that the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 13,067 tramadol exposures in 2012; nine deaths resulted from such exposure.

Adverse effects may occur if individuals use tramadol with other medications. Medline Plus recommends discussing other medications with a physician before using tramadol.

The FDA warns that individuals should not take more tramadol than prescribed by a physician. Since tramadol can cause individuals to develop both a tolerance and dependence, the risk for accidental overdose can be quite high. Individuals may increase their dose of the medication in order to achieve the effect they desire, not realizing that they are taking a dangerous dose. If an overdose has occurred, individuals may show the following symptoms:

  • Difficult and irregular breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Pale or blue-tinged lips, fingernails, and skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Unresponsiveness

In the event of an overdose, emergency services should be contacted immediately.

Dependence on Tramadol

The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes the difference between dependence and addiction. Physical dependence, unlike addiction, develops when the body is exposed to tramadol for a prolonged period of time. Addiction, while it can include physical dependence, occurs when individuals have developed certain behaviors, such as drug-seeking behaviors and the use of tramadol even if they have experienced negative consequences from its use. Dependence is often coupled with tolerance, meaning that individuals will need to increase the amount of tramadol they take in order to achieve the initial effect.

Since tramadol is an opioid, it does have the potential to cause addiction as well as physical and psychological dependence. For individuals with a history of drug or alcohol dependence or addiction, this risk may be increased; however, an article published by Prescrire International warns that dependence can occur in those who have no history of drug abuse. An article from the United States National Library of Medicine found that tramadol dependence can occur in individuals taking doses within the recommended dosage range.

Some individuals may engage in illegal behavior to obtain tramadol, including doctor shopping. Doctor shopping occurs when individuals attempt to obtain prescriptions by visiting multiple doctors, and it is both illegal and dangerous. Others may even forge prescriptions if their physician will no longer prescribe tramadol, which is also highly illegal. Individuals may also ask for refills earlier, claim their tramadol was lost or stolen when it was not, or ask loved ones to obtain a tramadol prescription for use. If individuals become addicted, they may find themselves in financial trouble as well, as they may devote large amounts of money to purchase the medication illegally.

If individuals become addicted to or dependent on tramadol, they may exhibit the following signs:

  • Taking tramadol in larger amounts or for longer than prescribed
  • Inability to stop using tramadol, even if they express a desire to do so
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms (These can occur even if tramadol is being used at a prescribed dose.)
  • Development of a tolerance
  • Spending large amounts of time to obtaining, taking, and recovering from tramadol use
  • Failure to manage responsibilities at home, work, and school
  • Strain on personal relationships due to tramadol use
  • No longer participating in work or social events due to tramadol use
  • Continuing tramadol use, even if it has exacerbated a physical or mental illness
  • Feeling as if tramadol is necessary to function normally
  • Increased absences at work and school
  • Experimenting with other medications or drugs due to lack of tramadol

Getting Help

Those wishing to recover from a tramadol addiction and/or dependence should first remember that they should never stop taking tramadol abruptly, as advised by Prescrire International.

You Can Start a New Life

Contact us today to talk with a Admission Navigator who will give you the information you need to make the right decision for you and your loved ones.