Tramadol, also known by the name Ultram or Ultracet, is an opioid taken orally to alleviate pain. It is prescribed to treat mild levels of pain resulting from things such as osteoporosis or dental issues. While Tramadol is considered to be safer than other pain relievers, like most drugs it can become habit forming for those who abuse it. In terms of potency, it is roughly 1/10 the strength of morphine.
How Tramadol Differs From Other Opiates
Tramadol is distinct in that it has dual acting characteristics. Although it behaves like other opiates in the manner it handles pain perception, it also provides greater availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin handles a plethora of functions such as mood and sleep, while norepinephrine has positive effects on concentration.
Tramadol is also completely synthetic. This means that it is fully designed by humans and cannot be found in nature. Other opioids such as codeine or morphine are derivatives of opium. Tramadol is also different from drugs such as oxycodone or hydromorphone which are partially synthetic while also containing natural properties.
Origins of Tramadol
Tramadol was first developed during the early 1960s in Germany. It was reviewed and analyzed for 15 years before it finally received approval and was introduced to international markets. At its inception it was called Tramal and the drug was a major breakthrough for the firm that developed it. The drug didn’t arrive in the United States until the mid-1990s, and since that time it has increased in popularity.
Initially it was believed that Tramadol would be fairly safe from abuse. However, addiction to this substance has been steadily increasing throughout the U.S. as well as other nations. When abused, Tramadol has effects which are akin to other opioids. Addicts will develop a sense of euphoria followed by numbness and a feeling of being removed from their body. Users also report feelings of heaviness and lethargy. At the same time, when abused Tramadol will also give the users feelings of relaxation.
Research shows that many of the people who abuse this substance have abused other substances in the past. Various governments and jurisdictions have responded to this problem in different ways. Although Tramadol is perfectly legal when prescribed by a doctor, changes have been made to the status of this substance. For instance, the state of Arkansas in 2007 declared Tramadol to be a Schedule IV classification. Kentucky did the same the following year. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has begun to carefully review and assess tramadol as well.
When a substance is given a schedule IV classification this means that although it serves a specific function, it does have a risk of abuse, though lower than schedule 3 drugs. Prescriptions and or refills should be carefully evaluated and restricted as needed. This classification also increases the punishments which are placed on those who illegal sell, use or possess this substance. This includes 5 year sentences in some jurisdictions for those who are caught with Tramadol without a prescription.