What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is an opiate analgesic or prescription opioid that doctors use to treat their patients’ pain. Because it is a powerful narcotic pain medication, it can have severe side effects when misused. Currently, tramadol is only legally available by prescription in the United States.
But as we have learned with other substances throughout the decades-long opioid epidemic, illicit use is not unheard of. Despite its medical purposes, the Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA considers tramadol a Schedule IV substance for its risk of dependence and addiction.
You may be more familiar with the brand name for tramadol, which is Ultram. Other names include chill pills, ultras, and trammies, all common slang for tramadol. By any name, it can become addictive and require a tramadol detox.
Common Tramadol Usage
For medical purposes, prescription tramadol offers analgesic pain relief. The most common uses of tramadol are for moderate to severe pain after a surgical operation, an accident, or an injury. It is also given to patients with osteoarthritis and other chronically painful conditions.
In addition to offering high-level pain relief, tramadol also increases norepinephrine and serotonin production in the brain, boosting our moods. The combination of pain relief and mood enhancement it provides is what leads many people to misuse it.
Because it can be addictive, tramadol is typically recommended for short-term pain relief. Cautious use is recommended, which is why doctors can only prescribe a maximum of five tramadol refills. And patients need a new prescription every six months, giving their doctor the chance to reevaluate their need for the drug at regular intervals.
After six months, the risk of addiction gets higher. This is one reason why many doctors will cap it there and begin discussing alternatives for long-term pain relief, including physical therapy and over-the-counter medications, among others.
Tramadol vs. Oxycodone and Other Prescription Opioids
On the opioid potency scale, tramadol lands on the safer end of the spectrum. That is why tramadol is listed as a Schedule IV substance, with accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse and addiction, while other opioids land in the more dangerous drug classes.
Moving down toward the most dangerous drug class, the opioid painkiller oxycontin is a Schedule II drug. This means that it has accepted medical uses but a high potential for abuse. Hydrocodone or Vicodin is another Schedule II prescription opioid.
Heroin lands in the most dangerous drug class: Schedule I. Schedule I substances have no accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse. Opioids and other drugs that land in schedules one through three are considered more addictive and dangerous than tramadol.
But that does not mean that tramadol and other Schedule IV drugs do not come with their own set of risks and potential complications.
Developing Tramadol Tolerance
Misusing tramadol can cause your body to build a tolerance and dependence on the drug. But when something comes as a prescription, it can be hard to differentiate between medical use and misuse. Misusing a prescription medication might mean:
- Switching doctors to get another prescription after your refills run out.
- Buying, swapping or stealing pills from a friend, family member, or another contact.
- Taking the medication through an unapproved method, i.e., crushing and snorting, chewing, or injecting it instead of following the medically appropriate method.
- Combining it with alcohol or other drugs (unless you have permission from a medical professional to do so.)
Drinking while you’re on tramadol can increase the risk of developing a physical tolerance, experiencing harmful side effects, and overdosing.
Symptoms of Tramadol Dependence
One of the first signs of tramadol dependence is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking it. Some of the most common tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anxiety and depression
- Hot and cold flashes
- Excessive perspiration and watering of the eyes and nose
- Muscle cramps
These common opioid withdrawal symptoms typically kick in within 48 hours of your last dose. Depending on the severity of your dependence, they may start as soon as eight hours after your last dose. Withdrawal symptoms, like addictions themselves, can range from mild to severe.
There are also some emotional signs of tramadol dependence, including:
- Experiencing compulsive drug cravings or mood swings.
- Feeling like you need tramadol to have a normal day.
- Neglecting your responsibilities or relationships to prioritize your drug use.
- Getting defensive or angry when asked about your drug habits by a friend or loved one.
The Risks of Quitting Tramadol Cold Turkey
For several reasons, at-home detoxes are generally less effective and more dangerous than monitored, professional detoxes. Opioid addictions, including tramadol, often lead to painful and difficult withdrawals. This is one reason why the risk of relapse is so high.
But when you choose a monitored, professional tramadol detox, that risk is lowered. Another concern is that cold turkey quitting can be a shock to the system. When it comes to certain drugs, most medical experts recommend slow tapering rather than immediate cessation.
Tramadol is one of them. Tapering rather than quitting all at once can minimize the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and any medical concerns that arise as a result.
The Benefits of Medically-Supervised Tramadol Detox Settings
There are many benefits of choosing a monitored tramadol detox over cold turkey quitting at home. Opioid withdrawals can be particularly uncomfortable and difficult. Many compare it to having a very bad flu.
Withdrawal symptoms like these are some of the most common relapse triggers. But our monitored tramadol detox can help minimize these withdrawal symptoms, boosting your comfort and confidence so that you can focus on your recovery.
During a monitored tramadol detox, we will also monitor your progress, ensure that you are properly hydrated and eating healthy meals, and provide any additional medical support you may need. This is a tramadol detox done right and done safely.
Tramadol Withdrawal Timeline
The detox stage is an important first step that cannot be rushed. It is also a stage that will vary from person to person. But most are relieved to know that the average tramadol withdrawal timeline is about two weeks.
Most experience the first of the withdrawal symptoms within hours after the last dose. This first wave of withdrawal symptoms is typically on the milder side. After the first few days, they may intensify. And by the end of the first week, they should hit their peak.
During the second week of withdrawals, those experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety may find them lingering. Most of the physical withdrawal symptoms will have run their course by this point. And we will help you through any emotional ones that remain.
Our dedicated medical team is here to ease your withdrawals, ensure your safety, and guide you through each step of your tramadol detox. And all of this occurs in the safety and comfort of our luxury facility.
Getting Started at The Discovery House
Kicking your addiction to the curb starts here with our comprehensive and customized tramadol detox. During your detox, you’ll have 24-hour access to our team, and they will help you overcome your drug dependence.
After your detox, they’ll guide you through the next steps, too. Whether you need full-time care in a residential program or part-time guidance in an outpatient setting, we will help you build a customized long-term care plan that meets your unique needs. Call us today at 818-452-1676 to get started.