Chronic Pain and Tramadol Addiction

Chronic Pain and Tramadol Addiction


Many unsuspecting people end up having a problem with Tramadol addiction, even though they might have been misled to think that there was no such threat with the medication.  This is because Tramadol–otherwise known as Ultram–falls into a mysterious category of drug classification that is something like “not addictive but potentially habit forming.”  What?  What the heck does that mean?

Well I can tell you what it means because I work in a drug and alcohol treatment center.  It means that some people out there do actually become addicted to Tramadol.  The doctors sometimes think it is a safer medication to use as a painkiller, because it is not what we would call a “real” opiate.  Instead, it is a synthetic opiate drug (though it is synthesized from a real opiate drug).  Nevertheless, I know many people who have definitely become addicted to the pill and it is their drug of choice.  They prefer Tramadol over other drugs.  If that is not an addiction then I don’t know what is.

Furthermore, people who are addicted to Tramadol definitely experience physical craving and withdrawal symptoms. Their body will show symptoms and demand the drug if they go for too long without it.  For example, they will get flu like symptoms and get the sweats and the chills if they stop taking the medication cold turkey.  Whoever said that the drug is not addictive has obviously not gone through Tramadol withdrawal or experienced any Tramadol cravings.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Desadaptado

The ultimate treatment for this sort of addiction is the same as with other opiates: detoxing the body is a good first step. This is best done in a drug rehab or detox center, in my opinion.

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If the addict has chronic pain issues, then this should be addressed as part of the treatment plan. Alternative strategies should be developed for managing pain.  These can include non-addictive medications, pain clinics, holistic therapies, and so on.  Probably a combination of these strategies will work best for most chronic pain sufferers.

After getting through detox, the addict has to learn how to deal with life again, especially if they have been abusing Tramadol to the point where they are self medicating their feelings with the drug.  If they have been stuck in this pattern for a long time, then they will definitely need to do some heavy footwork in terms of working a program of recovery in order to stay clean from drugs.  Living in recovery means that we have to find new ways to deal and cope with stress.

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