Ultram (tramadol) is a centrally-acting opioid used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. This drug is available in a tablet form by prescription only. Although not classes as a controlled drug, tramadol does have abuse potential, even when prescribed at regular doses. During recent years, there have been several cases of tramadol abuse and withdrawal in the healthcare setting. A recent study regarding tramadol and other drugs, experts found that the addiction index of this drug is around 3 percent. This rate will increase, however, with prolonged drug consumption. Like opioids, tramadol acts on certain brain receptors associated with feeling pleasure. The longer someone uses this drug, the greater the chance of addiction.

Tramadol is most likely to be abused by people with chronic pain or healthcare professionals. Ultram was marketed originally because of its weak narcotic effects and low abuse potential, but problems with abuse have surfaced. Many addicts combine this drug with alcohol to achieve desired effects. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported in 2008 that 6 percent of admissions to rehabilitation (rehab) centers were due to opiate addictions, which included tramadol.

Signs and Symptoms of Tramadol Abuse and Dependence

A person exhibiting signs and symptoms of tramadol abuse will meet certain criteria according to the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) manual. The symptoms that must be present during a given 12-month time period are:

  • Substance use causing legal problems and drug-related arrests.
  • Substance use resulting in failure to fulfill work, school, or home obligations.
  • Substance use that is physically hazardous, such as driving under the influence.
  • Continued substance use despite negative interpersonal and social consequences.

Dependence is different from abuse. It is defined as a maladaptive pattern of substance use, which leads to significant distress and/or impairment as manifested by withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, drug-seeking behavior, and unsuccessful efforts to cease drug use.

Tramadol Abuse Effects

There are numerous side effects to tramadol usage. These include euphoria, dizziness, constipation, drowsiness, and sedation. A tolerance to the drug occurs when the body becomes accustomed to it. This means more and more is required to obtain the desired effect. People who have a tolerance to tramadol are at greater risk of overdose and withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, diarrhea, fatigue, irritability, seizures, restless legs, tremors, cravings, and upset stomach.

A recent survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that there are 13,000 specialized rehabilitation (rehab) facilities across the U.S. that deliver various substance abuse treatments, such as behavioral and cognitive therapy, counseling, and medications. Tramadol treatment centers deliver care in a multidisciplinary approach, so the client has a customized plan of therapy. Most facilities offer detoxification (detox), so the client does not suffer with withdrawal symptoms. If you or someone you love suffers from addiction, contact one of these services today.