Every day, Americans take prescription drugs to make their lives better. A lot of these prescriptions are for pain relief. One such drug is tramadol, which is prescribed by doctors to patients who suffer from chronic back pain or other ailments that require moderate levels of pain relief.
In recent years, tramadol has also been prescribed as an off-label drug for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Users report that taking tramadol can make them feel relaxed and elevate their moods. Because the drug is considered to have a lower addiction potential than other anxiety drugs like Xanax and other benzos, many doctors prescribe the drug to anxiety patients.
As the drug becomes increasingly popular, this brings into question whether long-term use of the drug is safe. Can taking one pill of tramadol a day lead to addiction? This blog post will talk about the dangers associated with taking small doses of tramadol long-term and how it’s possible to lead to substance abuse.
Can tramadol be physically addictive?
Compared to other popular drugs like Oxycodone or Xanax, tramadol is generally considered a safer alternative. There are even published studies that concluded how low doses of tramadol are safe for long-term use for pain patients. So, if you only took one pill per day, would it be possible to become physically dependent on this medication?
The answer is yes! Even if you’re taking small doses over an extended period of this drug, this could lead to long-term substance abuse. Tramadol is an opioid analgesic and even if it is weaker than other popular opioids, habitual use can still lead to addiction.
In a lot of cases, the general belief that tramadol is a safer drug puts people into having “false security” that taking one pill of tramadol a day will not lead to addiction. However, this is not entirely true. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic reported that prescribing patients the drug tramadol for post-surgical pain is more likely to result in prolonged use compared to other opioids. According to the study authors, this does not tie in to the belief that tramadol is less habit-forming than other opioids.
Another risk is that if you keep taking a low dose of tramadol, you could develop a tolerance for the drug. This means you will need a higher dose to feel the same pain-relieving and relaxing effects. When you increase your dose, this could also lead to substance abuse.
How long does it take to get addicted to tramadol?
If you are taking tramadol for pain or anxiety, you might be wondering whether it is still safe to continue taking the drug without risking substance abuse. Is there a safe window where you can take tramadol without worrying about addiction?
While it was previously thought that using tramadol long-term is safe, recent studies have found otherwise. The bad news is that the risks of prolonged opioid use can start in just a matter of days after taking the drug.
Martin Bradley, a senior researcher from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences said that chances of long-term opioid use start after the third day of taking the opioids and will start increasing with each additional day. This risk substantially increases after taking the drug for five days or more.
What this means is that you should not be taking tramadol more than what was prescribed by your doctor. If you were prescribed the drug for five days, you should be conscious to stop and avoid taking more of the drug.
How hard is it to get off tramadol?
Like any other opioid addiction, it can be difficult to get off tramadol. If you have developed a habit of taking the drug, even just a small dose of it, it can be tough to stop. The good news is that there are many medical options available to get off the drug safely if you find yourself having a hard time quitting yourself.
Getting help from medical professionals can make it easier to taper off this medication over time instead of abruptly stopping use which could lead to severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures or worse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with tramadol abuse, it is best to seek help from an addiction treatment specialist. Here at Morningside Recovery by Lighthouse, we offer evidence-based treatment programs personalized for our clients. We specialize in treating opioid addiction and can help you get off tramadol safely.