With the increasing number of Americans becoming addicted to opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription medications, doctors are more watchful before prescribing these drugs to their patients. However, this does not deter people from seeking out the next best available drug to give them their desired high. Tramadol is one of the drugs that was thought of as a safer painkiller until reports that more and more people were becoming addicted.
While it does not receive the same media hype as OxyContin or Xanax, the popularity of Tramadol is increasing. It is now one of the most searched medicines online. For those who are not familiar with tramadol and are wondering what this drug is and how it affects a user, here are some quick facts to give you a backgrounder.
1. Tramadol is an opioid
Opioids have been shown to be addictive. Even if you are using opioids in a legitimate way, meaning you are suffering from chronic pain, it is possible to still get addicted to opioids even within a short period of time. This is the reason why even good people get addicted to opioids. Even if you just start taking opioids within the prescribed length of time, you can be addicted to these painkillers and constantly seek it to function.
When doctors began prescribing tramadol as a painkiller, many people had the mistaken belief that this is not an opioid. However, tramadol, which also goes under the brand name Ultram, is a synthetic opioid analgesic that is prescribed for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain.
Tramadol was originally considered as a safer alternative compared to other opioids such as methadone and hydrocodone. The drug was first approved for use in the mid-1990s and because it was deemed to have a better safety profile than other opioids by the US Food and Drug Administration, it was not initially classified as a controlled substance. In 2014, this was revised by the Drug Enforcement Administration making tramadol a federally controlled Schedule IV drug.
2. Tramadol is as habit forming as other opioids
The belief that tramadol is a safer alternative to other opioids and that it will not pose a high risk for addiction were the reasons why it was being prescribed more than other painkiller medications. However, a recent Mayo Clinic research published in May 2019 found that tramadol is just as habit forming as other opioids.
According to senior study author Molly Jeffery, Ph.D., the scientific director of research for the Mayo Clinic Division of Emergency Medicine, patients who took tramadol are just as likely as people who took oxycodone or hydrocodone to continue using the drug past the time they’re pain would have been expected to be resolved.
This finding was contrary to the general belief that tramadol is less addictive or habit forming. Another alarming discovery that the study found is that surgical patients who were prescribed with tramadol actually have a higher risk of prolonged use than people who were prescribed other common opioids.
3. Tramadol is being abused as a recreational drug
Since tramadol is still relatively unpopular compared to other opioid drugs, it is not as tightly monitored making it an easier target for those looking to use the drug recreationally. Tramadol is supposed to provide an extreme calmness and a euphoric feeling. The feeling could last from 4 to 6 hours but there is an extended-release version that provides effects for 12 to 24 hours.
Tramadol is also cheaper than other opioids and therefore more accessible and widely available. Aside from patients who use tramadol way past the time they have been prescribed to do so, this drug has also been documented to be abused by high school adolescents. It even gained a street name “ultras”.
4. Tramadol abuse is not only a US problem
Tramadol has not sparked that much attention in the United States but it does not change the fact that abuse of the drug is contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis. This problem, however, is not exclusive to America. Tramadol has been reported as the cause of opioid abuse in Egypt, Africa, India, and even war-torn Gaza.
5. Side effects of Tramadol
For people who are using tramadol for pain, it can provide the desired effects as long as the use is closely being monitored by a doctor. However, it can still have some side effects including agitation, confusion, depression, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, gastrointestinal pain, hallucinations, headache, and loss of appetite, nausea, numbness, paranoia, ringing in the ears, and vomiting.
The recommended dose of tramadol in a single day should not exceed 400 milligrams. If a user exceeds this amount, it could lead to severe consequences including seizures, convulsions, and overdose. Purchasing tramadol on social media or from unknown sources also pose the risk of acquiring contaminated drugs cut with more dangerous and potent opioids like fentanyl.
If you or a loved is suffering from substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Morningside Recovery today.