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Tramadol Abuse And Addiction Signs And Symptoms

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

Medically reviewed by

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

June 4, 2019

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid, usually prescribed for pain relief. When this prescription drug isn’t taken as directed, it can lead to dependence, abuse, and addiction. People who struggle with tramadol abuse may experience symptoms that include drowsiness, confusion, and seizure.

Tramadol is an opiate analgesic that is used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. This drug interacts with the nervous system, and changes the way the body responds to stimuli. Although tramadol is less addictive than other opioids, this narcotic still has a high potential for abuse.

People who take tramadol for an extended amount of time may become dependent on the drug. When this happens, the body and brain need a certain dose in order to function properly. Being dependent on an opioid may cause people to abuse their prescription, by taking higher or more frequent doses than directed.

Abusing tramadol can also lead to addiction. Tramadol addiction signs include having a preoccupation with the drug, or visiting several doctors to get multiple prescriptions. Tramadol abuse symptoms include decreased pupil size, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.

Can You Get Addicted To Tramadol?

Yes. This powerful narcotic interacts with the brain and can lead to feelings of euphoria and well-being. To intensify these pleasurable effects, people may take more than they are supposed to. Some people may take the drug more often than prescribed, which could cause a person to run out of their prescription early.

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Abusing this synthetic opioid can quickly lead a person down the path of addiction. When a person takes tramadol for an extended period of time, they will likely become used to having a certain amount of the drug.

Over time, they may require higher doses in order to get the same effect (called a tolerance). Having a tolerance to tramadol could lead people to ingest dangerous amounts of the drug.

Other people who are dependent on tramadol may change the method of use, by crushing and snorting the pill. Tramadol is meant to be taken as an oral tablet, but people who are struggling with addiction may snort or inject the tablets for a faster high.

Symptoms Of Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

Even when taken as directed, this pain reliever can cause certain side effects within the body. These symptoms can include headache, nervousness, or heartburn. If a person becomes addicted to the medication, the potential side effects of tramadol may be worsened.

Tramadol addiction symptoms may include:

  • extreme fatigue
  • changes in mood
  • muscle tightness
  • anxiety
  • nausea
  • decreased heart rate
  • dry mouth
  • body tremors
  • trouble sleeping
  • breathing problems
  • changes in sex drive
  • seizure

If a person takes other medications with tramadol, the risk of these symptoms may be heightened.

More than 30 percent of people who abuse opioids also take benzodiazepines like Xanax. Combining tramadol with other drugs can result in life-threatening symptoms, including coma.

Make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking. If a person uses tramadol without a prescription, they are at an increased risk for overdose.

Signs Of Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

If you are worried that someone close to you is struggling with tramadol abuse, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the signs of opioid addiction. Certain red-flag behaviors may serve as an indication that your loved one is abusing tramadol.

Tramadol abuse signs may include:

  • compulsive use of the drug
  • mood swings
  • taking tramadol without a prescription
  • buying tramadol off the street
  • ingesting another person’s tramadol prescription
  • crushing or snorting tablets
  • missing cash or valuables
  • lack of interest in hobbies or friends
  • spending large amounts of money on tramadol
  • withdrawal symptoms (panic, sweating, runny nose, chills)
  • doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain more prescriptions)

There are also personal factors that can increase a person’s risk for opioid addiction. People who have a history of substance abuse or mental health concerns may have a higher chance of struggling with prescription pills.

Realizing that you or someone you love is showing signs of opioid abuse can be overwhelming. However, there are several treatment options to support you and your loved one that is struggling with tramadol abuse and addiction.

Talking With Your Loved One About Their Tramadol Addiction

It can be difficult to realize you need to talk to someone about their substance use. It’s normal to feel nervous or unsure of what to say. The most important thing is to let your loved one know that you care about them.

By being open and honest about your concerns, you are demonstrating an interest in their health and happiness. Give specific examples of the things that concern you. You could say something along the lines of, “I’ve noticed you have canceled a lot of plans recently, and I’m worried about your well-being.”

Nearly 3 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorders (OUDs). Let your loved one know that because opioid addiction is so common, there are many different ways to get help.

Treatment Options For Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

Addiction and opioid use disorders are treatable medical conditions, and just because a person has become dependent on a drug does not mean there is something wrong with them.

People from all walks of life have overcome tramadol dependence with the help of an addiction treatment center. The first step in treating tramadol addiction is detoxification.
People who stop tramadol use suddenly may experience painful withdrawal symptoms, including muscle pain, diarrhea, and hallucinations. Medical detox centers exist in order to help people through the withdrawal stage, so they can begin a lasting recovery.

Once a person has successfully detoxed, they are ready to begin formal addiction treatment. Inpatient rehab centers often provide treatment services that include counseling, relapse prevention education, sober living skills, and 12-step support.

People who suffer from opioid addiction may also benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This includes medications like Zubsolv or Suboxone. Different types of MAT can soothe withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and help people avoid relapse.

Recovery from opioid addiction is possible. For more information on the signs and symptoms of tramadol abuse, contact one of our treatment specialists today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Benzodiazepines and Opioids, Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction, Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus - Tramadol

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