The Truth about Tramadol Abuse
Author: Justin Mckibben
For anyone unfamiliar with this drug, Tramadol is actually an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. Since its approval in 1995, Tramadol has become a household name, or should I say ‘names,’ with more than one popular branding to have recently flooded the medication markets with the claim of safer painkilling properties. You might be more familiar with some of these generic Tramadol aliases, such as:
- Rybix ODT
Like other opiates, Tramadol activates changes in the brain to relieve pain, while increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These chemicals regulate our mood which can actually produce a euphoric effect. This effect is what makes Tramadol tempting to people who abuse medications for non-medical purposes, or prompts people to use it in greater volumes than prescribed.
While Tramadol has not been the primary subject of a lot of concern in the growing issue with opioid painkiller abuse, contributing to the opiate epidemic in America, it is an element of the problem that in some ways has been overlooked. However looking at the numbers one could infer that it made a pretty substantial impact.
The Tramadol Timeline
In 2013 alone, over 43 million prescriptions for Tramadol were written in the U.S., and for years now Tramadol was thought of as the safe opiate option, but is it really?
In 2010, as the opiate abuse problem escalated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became a bit more cautious about the drug, advising doctors not to prescribe Tramadol to anyone suffering from depression or at risk for addiction.
The next year the writing was on the wall, as statistics showed:
- Over 20,000 ER visits were linked to Tramadol
- 379 overdoses involving Tramadol were reported in Florida alone
In 2014 after facing such dramatic effects of the once thought to be “safer” substance the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chose to re-classify Tramadol as a controlled substance, putting it under much stricter regulations.
So what is the truth about Tramadol, and why is it important to be careful with painkiller abuse?
Not Completely Controlled
First, the unfortunate truth about Tramadol is that this 2014 decision by the DEA has not completely stopped Tramadol abuse. Due to the misconceptions created by the drugs original reputation, many still hold a false view of this drug as not being a health threat if abused. Others assume any risks are minimal, making most more than willing to take their chances.
Personally, in my active addiction I knew people prescribed to Tramadol who would frequently abuse this medication in lieu of other opiates.
Not as Safe as You Think
Tramadol is a potent chemical-altering substance that poses many more risks when abused than previously suspected. When used in aggravated amounts the unhealthy levels of Tramadol throw off our intricate chemical balances and negatively affect our well-being in aspects:
However at the top of this list of terrifying risks is addiction. Over time, Tramadol abuse can cause physical and psychological dependence.
Psychological dependence often results in anxiety if the drug cannot be obtained, while more general side effects of tramadol abuse include:
- Risk of seizures
Long-term use also develops a physical tolerance to the drug, meaning more and more doses are needed to achieve the mood-altering affects.
Physical dependence on the drug increases other serious risks such as overdose, which can involve:
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of consciousness
With drug addiction comes physical dependence, and with physical dependence comes withdrawal symptoms when users try to stop taking Tramadol. These include:
- Stomach Pain
Not so safe now that you think about it. Admittedly this drug has not gained anywhere near the reputation other dangerous opiates such as OxyContin or Oxycodone have, but it is clearly a problem that should not be overlooked.
The message here: do NOT underestimate powerful opiate painkillers, no matter what their reputation, stay informed. The best way to address Tramadol abuse or addiction is to seek out a drug addiction treatment program that is right for you.
For those struggling with Tramadol abuse, there is still help out there. Tramadol addiction is not a fight anyone should have to fight alone, and with holistic healing strategies lives change every day.
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