Risk of Tramadol Addiction

Risk of Tramadol Addiction (Physical and Psychological) and Withdrawal Symptoms

The risk of addiction is fairly high with most opioids which are the most commonly abused drugs. However, addiction and dependence potential with tramadol is not very high. EH. Adams (1) conducted a study on 11,352 subjects to determine the addiction index of tramadol and other painkillers. He identified that if used for just 12 months, the abuse potential of tramadol is 2.7%. This is based on the results of his study in which 2.7% developed addiction to it. He also suggested that the rate may increase with prolonged consumption.

Opioids are potent painkillers that are also used for recreational purposes because they give users a feeling of pleasure that can be habit-forming. Research and statistics suggest that since tramadol is an opioid (with partial action on brain receptors), the risk of dependence exists with long-term consumption.

What are some signs of tramadol abuse?

Tramadol is a prescription painkiller and most individuals who get addicted to it are the ones who consume it for relief of chronic pain syndromes. However, with frequent use, most people unintentionally develop addiction. EH Adams devised an addiction index to diagnose the abuse potential for chronic tramadol consumers.

You can also assess your addiction or dependence status by analyzing these signs:

  • Consumption of tramadol in doses that are higher than the recommended dosage
  • Increasing the dosage without physician's approval
  • An inability to decrease the dose or stop the consumption altogether
  • Development of withdrawal symptoms with the non-availability of drug

What are some common withdrawal symptoms reported with tramadol addiction?

The biggest limiting factor that prolongs the duration of addiction and makes an ordinary case of dependence into a complicated addiction is that the withdrawal symptoms are fairly similar to morphine and codeine withdrawal.

These include:

  • Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
  • Moderate restlessness (similar to restless leg syndrome) marked by tossing and turning in bed
  • Aggressiveness, anxiety, agitation, and depression marked by crying spells
  • Painful muscle contractions
  • Trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep, vivid dreaming
  • Sneezing, coughing, nasal stuffiness, and headaches
  • Problems with vision marked by watery eyes, double vision
  • Changes in normal cardiac rhythm and palpitations

What should you know about tramadol addiction?

  • Tramadol addiction is both physical and psychological. With proper management and treatment, physical dependence may be treated but it is very difficult to treat psychological dependence.
  • Tramadol dependence is a problem. Instead of quitting the drug altogether, seek the help of a healthcare professional.
  • For best results, use tramadol infrequently and in the recommended dosage only. Even within the recommended dosage, seizure activity may be reported in some susceptible individuals. Vesna Jovanovic-Cupic, M.D., Ph.D. conducted a study on 57 tramadol abusers who consumed tramadol within the 250 to 2500 mg/day dosage. 31 of the 57 reported seizure activity. Of that, 26 patients or 84% developed seizures within 24 hours of tramadol intake, while 5 abusers or 16% developed seizures after 24 hours of intake.

How can you minimize the risk of tramadol addiction?

Tramadol is not an ordinary painkiller. Based on its potency, efficacy, and duration of action, it can be a palliative form of therapy, one that is reserved for cases where there is no cure or treatment available like terminal cancer. Before starting on the drug, you should know the necessary information regarding dosage, duration of treatment, possible side effects, possible interaction with food, and storage instructions. It is an ideal therapy for acute painful conditions. Since it is superior to other opioids, it can also be administered under supervision for chronic use.

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