Tramadol, a strong prescriptive painkiller often prescribed to those with severe or long term pain, is making headlines following a number of deaths linked to its addictive nature. What is Tramadol and why is it so addictive?
Tramadol is a strong painkiller that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is prescribed to treat chronic pain when weaker painkillers are no longer effective, and also for intense temporary pain after an operation or following an accident. Tramadol works by blocking pain signals from travelling along the nerves to the brain.
Tramadol comes in tablet form, in capsules and in liquid drops, more rarely it can be administered via intravenous injection. Tramadol is also prescribed under the brand names Invodol, Larapam, Mabron, Maneo, Marol, Maxitram, Oldaram, Tilodol, Tradorec, Tramquel, Tramulief, Zamadol, Zeridame and Zydol.
Like any other drug, tramadol has a number of side effects which include:
Long term usage of tramadol may also affect fertility in both men and women, although it is unknown if these effects are permanent or temporary. Any side effects are far more likely to be serious in the elderly, as well as those who are over or underweight.
Tramadol increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, which when mixed with other medications that increase your serotonin levels, including antidepressants, can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of this include agitation, fever, nausea, muscle stiffness as well as loss of consciousness.
The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms will very much depend on the level of dependency you have – if you have been taking tramadol at large doses for a long time you may need more time in which to bounce back the following detox.
If you use Tramadol in a way other than how it has been prescribed to you, you are putting yourself at risk of overdose. If you crush, chew or suck slow-release tablets for example, the slow-release system won’t work correctly and the dose may get into your system at once. This could cause a potentially fatal overdose.
Tramadol works a little differently than most opioids, as it not only activates the opioid receptors, it also stops neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine from being reabsorbed back into the system.
If you are struggling with addiction you should always seek professional help. Trying to detox alone can be very uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous. There are various treatment options available for addiction in the form of rehab, medication, and therapy.
Going to rehab will give you the opportunity to recover away from the stresses of ‘normal’ life. You will have the opportunity to get clean and sober with the support of trained and dedicated professionals. You will be able to start the healing process in a therapeutic setting, with 24 hour support and a community of peers who are going through the same things as you.
If you choose to go to rehab the first step will usually be an initial assessment and evaluation. This assessment occurs prior to your entering the programme. A therapist will evaluate your mental health status and any physical issues you may have.
If detox is required you will be seen promptly by a doctor and will be prescribed a medical detox, through which you will be supported. Following detox you will move on to the therapeutic programme. Often rehabs will have an integrative approach blending the one-to-one counselling and group therapy with the 12 Steps and/or other holistic approaches.
Since tramadol is an opioid analgesic using the following medications can help during detox:
Since you may experience atypical Tramadol withdraw symptoms from too little serotonin, you can reduce the severity of atypical withdrawal symptoms with medications that increase serotonin or serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. However, taking any serotonin-increasing medication at the same time as serotonin-increasing tramadol puts you at risk of serotonin syndrome.
Therapy is an incredible part of recovery. Uncovering the underlying trauma or reasons that behind your addiction can be an integral part of recovery. Therapy provides a safe space in which you can explore, process, and resolve experiences and processes which are affecting you negatively. There are various different types of therapy available for addiction recovery, these include: