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Effects Of Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

June 5, 2019

Tramadol is a narcotic painkiller that can lead to abuse, addiction, and withdrawal. When a person abuses their prescription, they may experience tramadol side effects including dependence, tolerance, and overdose.

Tramadol is a potent pain reliever often prescribed after medical procedures. This medication is considered an opioid analgesic and is less addictive than many other drugs in its class. However, tramadol can cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria, which can lead people to abuse the medication. Tramadol abuse can lead to serious side effects, including overdose.

Tramadol can be abused in several ways. Some people may take too much of the medication or take it more often than directed. Others may change the method of use, such as crushing and snorting the tablet. Tramadol can also be crushed and dissolved in water, for injection purposes. Each of these forms of tramadol abuse increases a person’s risk of addiction.

People who abuse tramadol may become dependent on the medication. When a person’s body is dependent on tramadol, they crave the drug and require it to function. Over time, they may require larger doses of the drug to get the same effects. This is called having a tolerance.

If a person stops taking tramadol suddenly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms like nausea, chills, or diarrhea. It is also possible to take too much tramadol, which can result in overdose. People who ingest a toxic amount of tramadol may experience severe drowsiness, irregular heartbeat, and slowed or stopped breathing.

Signs Of Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

There are certain signs to be aware of, when it comes to identifying potential opioid abuse. If someone you love is displaying any of these behaviors, it may be time to talk to them about getting the help they deserve.

People who struggle with tramadol abuse may display signs that include:

  • change in appearance (including weight loss or gain)
  • financial problems
  • lack of interest in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy
  • becoming distant from friends or family
  • difficulty sleeping
  • shifts in mood or personality
  • extreme fatigue
  • problems with relationships or showing up to work
  • missing money or valuables
  • multiple empty prescription bottles
  • runny nose
  • powdery substance on home surfaces
  • doctor shopping (visiting more than one provider to get multiple prescriptions)

It can be overwhelming to realize that a loved one is suffering from prescription drug addiction. Try to remember that addiction is a medical disease, which means it is highly treatable. Effective addiction treatment programs can be found in several types of rehab centers.

Long-Term Effects of Tramadol On The Body

Tramadol is an opioid, which means it interacts with the brain and nervous system. Tramadol may be prescribed under the brand names Conzip, Rybix, or Ultram. This drug reduces the amount of pain a person feels and can also lead to a sense of well-being. People who want to amplify the pleasurable effects of tramadol may abuse the drug by taking large or frequent doses.

Long-term use of tramadol can also have a major impact on the systems of the body. Like other opioids, tramadol can slow down the body’s everyday functions. Even when taken as directed, tramadol use can result in a host of side effects. If the medication is abused (taken other than how it’s prescribed), these effects may be intensified.

Tramadol’s effects on the body also include:

  • dizziness
  • vivid dreams
  • headache
  • sleepiness
  • dry mouth
  • insomnia
  • heartburn and indigestion
  • aching muscles
  • body tremors

People may experience these effects, even after they stop taking the drug. If you are ready to stop taking tramadol, talk with your doctor about how to safely get off the substance. They will be able to guide you in the process and help to minimize tramadol’s side effects.

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Long-Term Effects Of Tramadol On The Brain

Tramadol abuse can also have a severe effect on the mind. When people become addicted to the substance, they may do things they wouldn’t normally do. Some individuals may experience a change in personality or mood. Others may struggle with mental health impacts, including depression.

Additional effects of tramadol on the brain include:

  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • preoccupation with the drug
  • dependence
  • tolerance
  • addiction

Like other opioids, tramadol abuse can affect people differently. The severity of tramadol side effects will depend on factors including the amount of tramadol a person is on, and whether they use the medication with any other drugs. If a person takes tramadol long-term, they may experience ongoing impacts on their mental health.

Dangers Of Tramadol Abuse

While some of the effects of tramadol abuse are mild, abusing this drug long-term can lead to dangerous health risks. One of the main problems associated with opioid abuse is physical dependence and tolerance.

If a person who is dependent on tramadol stops taking the drug suddenly, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, but the symptoms can be mentally and physically agonizing.

Many people continue to take opioids simply to avoid the difficult withdrawal period. Fortunately, there are medical detox programs that can ease the symptoms of acute withdrawal.

People who are used to taking large doses of the drug may also increase their tramadol intake to a toxic level. This can lead to a tramadol overdose. Opioid overdoses are increasing in many states and can be fatal if not properly treated.

Getting Treatment For Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

If you are concerned that someone you love may be struggling with tramadol abuse and addiction, you are not alone. In recent years, opioid abuse and addiction has skyrocketed across the U.S. To combat this, detox programs and rehab centers throughout the country offer specialized recovery programs for those who are dependent on opioids.

Effective treatment of opioid use disorders may include individual therapy, group counseling, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). If your loved one’s doctor prescribes MAT, they may take a daily medication that relieves withdrawal symptoms and helps to prevent relapse.

Recovery from tramadol abuse is possible. To learn more about the effects of tramadol abuse and addiction, or to find a treatment center near you, reach out to one of our specialists today.

MayoClinic - Tramadol (Oral Route)

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus - Tramadol

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