Signs and Treatment for Tramadol Addiction
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that can be used when other painkillers no longer work. It is available in both pill and liquid form. While tramadol is quite powerful, it is not as strong as other opioids such as codeine or methadone. Nevertheless, users can develop dependency on this drug.
Tramadol is classified as an opiate analgesic that modifies the pain response of the brain. It is believed to mimic the body’s natural pain relief protocols as it is thought to be a norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Because Tramadol is available not just as a quick-release tablet or liquid but also in an extended-release form, it’s ideal for those who need a continuous dosage of pain relief.
Due to its effect on the brain, it is addictive. However, there are steps that a person can take to alleviate dependency. For example, a plan can be formed in conjunction with medical care providers to allow tapering of the medication over time. This prevents a hard crash as the person’s body is allowed to adjust to a lowering of the dosage. As physicians and other professionals have become more aware of the dangers of addiction to pain medications, more attention is being paid to help prevent long-term dependency.
For clients who have become dependent, there is hope. There are treatment options available that can help bring about healing and recovery.
Does Tramadol Have Side Effects?
Like all opioids, Tramadol has side effects, some pleasant and some not. The positive side effects include enhancing the user’s sense of well-being, giving a sense of euphoria, and helping him or her to feel more relaxed. While these effects seem positive, they can foster a sense of dependency over time. Users can crave these feelings and therefore become dependent on the drug.
As far as physical effects, the most important is that Tramadol provides pain relief. Unfortunately, it can also cause constipation, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and headaches as well as affecting breathing rate. There have been reported cases of vomiting and erectile dysfunction as well. Psychologically, some users have felt a sense of confusion.
It is important to note that some of these side effects will decrease over time, and there are steps that can be taken to help counteract some of them. For example, getting enough dietary fiber in conjunction with exercise and staying hydrated will help alleviate potential constipation, but in some cases, a laxative may be required. Another suggested strategy to cope with any potential dizziness that is caused by the medication is to take a few deep breaths before standing up and to do so slowly and carefully.
For most people, the benefits of Tramadol outweigh the side effects. In many cases, there are no significant side effects. However, if someone experiences more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, severe abdominal pain, or mental conditions such as agitation or hallucinations, it is very important that they consult their doctor immediately. Side effects that require an immediate medical response include irregular heartbeat, seizures, or fainting. While these conditions are rare, they can occur.
It is very important when taking Tramadol that the prescribing pharmacist is aware of all other drugs that are being used as a serious condition called serotonin syndrome can occur. While allergic reactions are rare, they can occur. Typically, a rash, itching, and difficulty breathing indicate that an allergy may exist.
Because Tramadol is a powerful drug, it is important that a doctor be consulted if these side effects occur. While Tramadol can be beneficial if used properly, it can also be dangerous in some situations.
The Differences Between Tolerance, Dependence and Addiction
While people often use the terms addiction, dependence and tolerance interchangeably, these mean very different things.
When a person is tolerant of a particular drug, that means he or she is no longer as responsive to that drug as he or she originally was. With a medication such as Tramadol, a long-term user may need a higher dosage in order to receive the same level of pain relief. This is a sign that the person has developed a tolerance for this drug.
When a person is dependent on a drug, they will go through withdrawal when they stop taking it. One reason doctors often taper someone off a particular medication is to minimize these physical and mental symptoms. While some symptoms of withdrawal may be mild, such as having a minor headache due to caffeine withdrawal, the effects can sometimes be life-threatening. However, a person who is dependent on a drug is not necessarily addicted to it.
Addiction is classified as a disease because someone with an addiction is compelled to continue using a drug and can’t stop regardless of the negative consequences of using it. It is notable that while a person who is addicted to a drug is commonly dependent on that drug, a person dealing with a drug dependence may not be addicted.
What Causes Addiction?
It is very important not to judge or condemn someone who is addicted to a substance such as Tramadol. There are many factors at play that can cause addiction.
First of all, Tramadol is typically prescribed by a doctor to help a client deal with pain. In a sense, the user is blameless in this scenario since he or she was simply following the advice of a physician. Yet, not everyone who is prescribed pain killers will become addicted. This is where environmental and genetic factors have an influence. Often, these factors lie outside the control of the client.
Additionally, regular drug use will cause changes in brain chemistry. The person addicted to a drug will experience pleasure in a different way. Without help, it is often very difficult to stop taking the drug. Fortunately, help is available through facilities such as Defining Wellness Centers.
What Are the Signs of Addiction?
There are several signs that indicate an addiction to Tramadol. These include the following:
• The user continues to take the drug even when they no longer need it to treat pain.
• They experience an inability to stop thinking about the drug. The person’s thoughts keep turning to when they will next take the drug, how to get more, and how they will feel while on it.
• They are not able to stop using even if it affects their ability to keep a job, engage in pleasurable hobbies, and have satisfying interactions with family and friends.
• They need to have a supply always on hand and feel panic when the drug is not available.
• They spend money on Tramadol instead of paying bills.
• They engage in risky behaviors to obtain and use the substance. Often, these behaviors are diametrically opposed to the user’s normal personality.
• They fail to stop taking the medication despite repeated efforts.
How Can You Recognize When Someone Is Suffering From Addiction?
There is a great social stigma attached to being addicted. The user may feel ashamed of their problem instead of realizing that addiction is a disease that can be helped with treatment. If you notice the following in a loved one, it may be a sign that the person is struggling with addiction:
• Personality and behavioral changes, particularly mood swings, paranoia, or aggressive behavior
• Drastic changes in appearance such as unexplained and sudden weight loss or gain, poor hygiene, or pinprick pupils
• Health issues such as being constantly run down or having insomnia
• A lack of interest in friends and family
• Absenteeism at work or school and degradation in performance
• An inability to manage money, including requests for loans
How to Help a Loved One Who May Have an Addiction
If you suspect that someone you care about has issues with addiction, it’s very important to handle the situation with delicacy and tact. Remember, no one sets out to become an addict. With a substance such as Tramadol, the user is typically someone who was originally prescribed the medication in order to treat pain. While in many cases, the person is able to taper off the substance under a doctor’s supervision, in other cases, often due to factors beyond her control, they will become addicted.
This is an insidious process that occurs over time as the medication interferes with the ability of the brain’s neurons to transmit, receive and process neural signals. Opioids have a chemical structure that mimics the natural neurotransmitters that already exist in the brain. Because of this, they can attach to the user’s neurons. Over time, they change brain chemistry. This makes it challenging to quit using them.
By understanding that a person with an addiction is often a victim, it will be easier for loved ones to approach the person with compassion and concern. While a positive outcome is not assured, you can increase the chances by withholding judgment and exhibiting empathy. A low-pressure and respectful approach will have the best consequences as it is less likely to trigger feelings of shame and anger in the user.
If your loved one is in denial and refuses to acknowledge the problem, it might be best to seek a support group yourself. It’s important to leave the door open for ongoing communication. By finding a safe space to deal with your own anger or frustration, it will be easier to support your loved one.
When You or Your Loved One Agrees to Get Help
When you or a loved one is ready to seek help, the first step is to realize that you are not alone. You can lean on your network of supportive friends and family members as well as groups that specialize in offering both encouragement and accountability.
The first step might be to make an appointment with your family physician. A physical exam can help determine any health issues. Often, a doctor can also offer guidance as to treatment options.
It is crucial that a physician be involved during the withdrawal process to help manage any symptoms that may occur as a user detoxes and tapers off the drug.
What May Occur During the Detoxification Process
While symptoms of Tramadol withdrawal are similar to those of other types of opioid withdrawal, they are typically milder. The following symptoms are typical:
• Muscle aches
• Feelings of anxiety or paranoia
• Flu-like symptoms
• Excessive yawning
More serious symptoms that some users experience may include:
• Diarrhea and abdominal cramping
• Dilated pupils
• Nausea and vomiting
• Goosebumps or shivering
• Panic attacks
How Does Detox Work?
The goal of detoxification is to help a person stop taking Tramadol safely. It is best undertaken under medical supervision, which can be provided at facilities such as Defining Wellness Centers Medications can be prescribed to help ease withdrawal symptoms, and blood tests and other methods may be administered to make sure there are no issues. The client’s safety is of paramount concern.
There is no set timeline for detoxification, but the goal is to accomplish it as quickly as it is safe to do so. While some clients may be done within days, others may take weeks.
Once the drug is completely out of the person’s system, ongoing support can continue to be provided through outpatient programs. This helps the client to maximize their chances of successful recovery by providing the support needed for success.