Causes of Tramadol Addiction

What Causes Addiction to Tramadol?

According to a report published by McDiarmid[1] in The Journal of Family Practice, a tremendous increase has been observed in the number of tramadol addiction cases in recent years. According to reports of The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the incidence rate has increased 165% compared to statistics before 1995.

There may be a lot of literature out there suggesting what to do after getting addicted to tramadol and how to manage the addiction. However, little is known about its causes and development..

Causes of Tramadol Recreational Abuse Addiction

Tramadol addiction in recreational drug users is not always a result of bad social influence and peer pressure. Reports published by National Center for PTSD suggest that natural catastrophes and stressful events can increase the anxiety and vulnerability to develop addiction and substance abuse issues.

The American Psychological Association suggests that prompt management of stressful events by a non-pharmacological mechanism helps in preventing substance abuse issues, especially of tramadol. Stressful events produce anxiety, agitation, and physical symptoms like headaches and body aches requiring persistent tramadol ingestion. If these stressful events become routine, most people don’t realize they are growing an addiction to tramadol.

Genetic factors

Tramadol influences the production or concentration of biochemical mediators in brain. However, most effects are mediated by the breakdown products of tramadol, which are more potent than the original drug. It has long been a mystery how some people develop addiction or dependence to tramadol despite diligently following the physician’s prescription. Latest research indicates that family history and genetic factors play a very important role in the pathogenesis of addiction. The best way to ascertain the risk of genetic tendency is to analyze the history of addiction in the extended family.

Dependence on tramadol for pain relief, anxiety, sleeping problems and euphoric effect

Most people start off on tramadol as a temporary pain relief until the wound heals or the injury is treated. However, the added benefits like euphoria, deep sleep, less anxiety, and other pleasurable feelings induce a sense of psychological dependence. It influences individuals to consume a higher dosage to achieve more of the positive effects. Tramadol also decreases the signs of depression by masking the chronic pain that interferes with normal day-to-day activities.

Harmful effects of tramadol addiction

The main problem with tramadol addiction is that it gets worse with every passing day. All of the positive effects for which people normally use tramadol in high doses for are transformed into constant pain and agony that only gets worse.

Most notable negative effects of tramadol addiction include:

  • The risk of potentially lethal toxic or high dose that may prove life-threatening, considering almost 12,000 cases of emergency hospital admissions during 1994 to 2002 are due to tramadol toxicity[2].
  • Tramadol is a prescription drug and is quite expensive. Individuals who develop an addiction to tramadol are usually financially unstable due to decreasing productivity and increasing expenses.
  • The risk of seizure is moderately high even with normal or sub-optimal dosage. Moreover, a person who develops addiction to tramadol is likely to fall victim to other forms of drug abuse, ultimately resulting to an even higher risk of seizure activity due to possible drug interaction.
  • Deteriorating health due to progressive organ dysfunction and multi-system damage as a result of progressive toxin buildup.
  • Life-threatening withdrawal symptoms due to the non-availability of tramadol for any reason.

How to recover from tramadol addiction

In most cases, tramadol addiction can be managed with a schematic approach encompassing all the aspects of the person’s life:

  • It is important to taper off drug instead of sudden withdrawal.
  • Seek medical help for proper evaluation of all other medical issues to prevent relapse (this includes both pain-related health issues and health issues resulting from chronic tramadol consumption).
  • Behavioral therapy and support for problem-solving and stress management.
  • Post- therapy support and group meetings.


  1. McDiarmid, T., Mackler, L., & Schneider, D. M. (2005). What is the addiction risk associated with tramadol. J Fam Pract, 54, 72-3.
  2. Brinker A, Bonnel RA, Beitz J. Abuse, dependence, or withdrawal associated with tramadol. Am J Psychiatry 2002; 159:881–882.

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