Tramadol, a synthetically manufactured opioid, ranks as one of the least potent painkillers. This statement stands true in comparison to other opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. But if used long enough and repetitively, the drug will take hold and change the brain’s chemical structure.
In other words, this drug can sneak up on an unsuspecting user, allowing them to keep their guard down. Before they know it, they need more and more of the drug to function normally. Its potential for abuse earned it the label of a Schedule IV controlled substance.
The doctor can prescribe this specific painkiller in two forms:
- Extended-release form: This form is often prescribed to those battling chronic pain. The tablet and pill, once in the body, its effect on the body will appear slowly.
- Immediate-release form: Once this type is in the body, the effects will appear faster.
They often come in bottles in pill or tablet form. Those who crush them or take them in any way that the doctor is not advised are looking for immediate effects. However, choosing to adhere to given instructions will help safeguard you from developing an addiction.
How Tramadol Interacts with The Brain
Tramadol, once consumed, binds itself to three areas:
- Monoamine reuptake systems
- Opioid receptors
- The central nervous system
Once the Opioid binds with the areas mentioned above, it works to suppress any pain. The painkiller goes a step further by pulling the user into a relaxed and euphoric state. Of course, its ability to block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine enhances its effects.
Its ability to block the two mentioned neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine, presents a problem on the flip side. If the user develops an addiction to the drug, he/she will experience two types of withdrawals. They include:
- Traditional opioid withdrawal includes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and body aches to name a few
- Atypical opioid withdrawal syndrome includes symptoms such as confusion, paranoia, and panic attacks, to name a few.
Such symptoms can make it extremely difficult for an individual to stop using the drug, even if they want to. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to this drug, then it’s best to be sure first. That is, learn the signs and symptoms and check to see if they coincide with your observations.
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Avoiding social interactions
- Strained relationships
- Neglecting career or academics
- Constantly anxious
- Abrupt mood changes
- Financial trouble and always asking others for money
- Engaging in criminal behavior such as theft of money or the drug
- Consuming more of the recommended amount of the drug
- Always asking for refills before its time
- Having more than one doctor or pharmacy to refill the prescription
- Asking others to give them some of their Tramadol
Exhibiting the above symptoms could mean that you or a loved one is addicted.
First comes dependency. This manifests itself with the need to use more and more of the drug than before experiencing the effects. Trying to stop will have you experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which will push you back to using the drug. Then comes addiction, which you’ve already identified.
Your primary concern now is how Tramadol addiction is treated.
Treatment of Tramadol Addiction
Choosing to ignore the problem can only make things worse. A person struggling with addiction to Tramadol can open a doorway to other drug addictions. Even behaviors such as gambling and alcohol substance abuse are likely to develop.
The first step to treating a person with a drug abuse problem with Tramadol addiction is detoxification.
The Detoxification Process
This is a process that involves eliminating the drug from your body. Doing it under medical supervision will help keep you safe and limit the pain associated with the withdrawal symptoms. Keep in mind that the severity of the detox will depend on the duration of use. Hence, the process may last for a week or longer.
The doctor is required to give the patient medication to help ease the pain and discomfort of withdrawal. With the process made more manageable, the patient must stick through it before moving to the next stage.
Inpatient Versus Outpatient Treatment
As painful as it can be, the detoxification process has given the person battling with addiction a chance to succeed at recovery. Skipping it is, therefore, not recommended.
Inpatient treatment centers present a more controlled environment as opposed to the outpatient one. The patient once checked in, will be living in the treatment center for a stipulated length of time. During this time, they are given medical attention and therapy around the clock, without fail.
Outpatient offers the patient more flexibility. They will continue living at home but are expected to attend therapy and treatment sessions. This type is best suited for those struggling with a mild addiction.
The person with drug abuse problems will have to go through individual therapy sessions. They include:
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Experiential therapy
- Holistic therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
After treatment is over, patients are advised to join support groups. Doing this helps keep them accountable and on track with their recovery. They include:
- 12-step programs
- SMART Recovery
- Addiction Counselors
In conclusion, Tramadol is an addictive painkiller. However, addiction to the drug is treatable. With options such as outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation, individuals are advised to choose one that will work for them. Inpatient rehabs are more effective due to their controlled environment effectively limiting triggers that could cause a relapse.
After treatment, the best thing to do is join a support group. Such groups are made up of people that are on the same journey as you. This means that you are less likely to be judged and more likely to be supported.