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Substance Abuse Spotlight: Tramadol Addiction
Tramadol, which is also known as Ultram, is a type of opioid which is used as a pain reliever. It can reduce pain which ranges from mild to severe, and is considered a much better alternative to drugs such as methadone or hydrocodone. Although it is legal and widely available, those who take this drug excessively may develop a tramadol addiction.
The History Of Tramadol
Tramadol was first approved by the FDA in 1995. It is one of the newer drugs and is seen as being safer than morphine. Although it is not classified as a controlled substance, a growing body of evidence indicates that it is being abused by certain individuals. Those that become addicted to Tramadol will experience withdrawal when attempting to quit, and as a result, the DEA has now changed Tramadol’s classification to a drug which is federally controlled, which went into effect in 2014.
Effects Of Tramadol Addiction
Tramadol is typically consumed orally in the form of a pill. Upon ingestion, the drug will be metabolized by the liver and transformed into a number of chemicals, one of which is O-desmethyltramadol, that will produce effects in the body that are highly potent. When taken in recommended dosages it will provide pain relief, but in higher doses it can lead to a high in which the user will experience a euphoria which has been likened to oxycodone, another opiate.
Consequences Of Abusing Tramadol
As with all drugs, those who choose to abuse Tramadol will experience unpleasant side effects. These effects are similar to what is seen in most opioids. Tramadol will increase the levels of both norepinephrine and serotonin within the brain, and extensive abuse or overdose can lead to side effects such as drowsiness, vomiting, nausea, constipation, headaches and a reduced appetite. In severe cases users may experience seizures or even convulsions.
Tramadol addiction creates cravings which are very similar to those experienced with other drugs, both legal and illegal. Addicts who are denied access to Tramadol may display varying levels of anxiety, and will engage in activities which allow them to access it. Some of these activities include forging prescription documents or even theft of Tramadol supplies.
Overcoming Tramadol Abuse
An individual who is addicted to Tramadol will need to enter a rehab facility so that they can get the help they need. They will first need to undergo detoxification so that all traces of the drug can be removed from their system. This will lead to a variety of unpleasant withdrawal effects.
Some of the side effects which are associated with Tramadol withdrawal include paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, confusion, diarrhea, depression, numbness and gastrointestinal problems. These withdrawal symptoms make it very difficult for addicts to overcome their addictions and increase the chances of relapse when they are not under supervised care. Once this process is completed the recovering addict can then enter a formal rehab center.
Outpatient treatment facilities allow an individual to continue living at home while receiving therapy, while inpatient treatment requires the patient to live at the facility where they will receive around the clock care for a specific period of time.