Tramadol, which may be better known by its brand name Ultram, is an oral medicine that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. It falls under the class of drugs called opioid analgesics. It is typically prescribed by a medical doctor to help manage pain after surgery, or after the onset of arthritis. However, there’s an emerging problem of tramadol abuse in the United States. This often occurs when patients who have been prescribed the drug before begin to take it in excess of the recommended medical dosage. There’s a risk of these said patients developing tolerance to tramadol and crossing the line into full-blown substance use disorder.
This article details the 9 most distressing affects that tramadol abuse has on one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It should serve as a precaution so that you don’t abuse tramadol or let any of your loved ones fall prey to a tramadol addiction.
How Does Tramadol Abuse Happen?
Before knowing the long-term consequences of tramadol abuse, it will help for you to understand how addiction to tramadol happens.
Although tramadol carries a lower risk for addiction than other opiates do, it still has moderate addictive potential when it is abused. There are three qualities the drug has that make it prone to abuse:
- Tramadol kills pain effectively. The drug modifies the transmission of pain signals to the human brain. For someone experiencing intense or chronic pain, tramadol offers a strong enough relief.
- Tramadol affects moods. In addition to its pain-relieving qualities, tramadol can increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the human brain. These are the chemical messengers that are responsible for inciting feelings of happiness and high energy, respectively. Thus, people who misuse tramadol may become addicted because this drug constantly incites these feelings for them.
- Tramadol can reduce anxiety. Aside from feelings of euphoria or productivity, tramadol can also induce relaxed sensations. As such, another common cause of misuse for tramadol is for stress and anxiety relief.
For these reasons, tramadol usage should always be closely monitored by the prescribing physician. Paired with vigilance and support from the patient’s household, this is the best way to prevent either misuse or overdose of tramadol.
The 9 Alarming Effects of Long-Term Tramadol Abuse on the Human Mind, Body, and Psyche
At worst, misuse of tramadol may result in a person’s addiction to the substance. That, in turn, may result in the following dangerous long-term side effects.
Development of a Drug Tolerance
Over time, the person using tramadol may develop a tolerance to it. This means that their body requires a higher dosage of the drug than before to achieve the same pain-relieving quality. Tolerance to tramadol is a warning sign for addiction. If it happens, the patient should embark on a plan with their prescribing physician to safely wean them off the drug.
Physical Dependence on Tramadol
Misuse of tramadol may also result in a person’s physical dependence on the drug. It may come to the point where their day is “incomplete” without it, and its absence disrupts their everyday life. This is another red flag for potential addiction and should be addressed immediately.
Withdrawal symptoms are a serious side effect of tramadol abuse that manifest after an extended period of consuming the drug. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal from tramadol include sleep disturbances, fatigue, irritability, hallucinations, racing heart rate, tingling in the extremities, and chills. If you see any of these symptoms manifesting, you should seek medically supervised detoxification right away.
Tramadol abuse may also cause seizures. Although it is a more common side effect for those with epilepsy, even non-epileptics who misuse tramadol are susceptible. Research done by Gardner et al. on tramadol-associated seizures suggests that risk is high among those who’ve had more than four tramadol prescriptions.
Lasting Respiratory Problems
It’s also known that tramadol misuse can cause respiratory problems, such as slow or shallow breathing. These, in turn, can increase the occurrences of dizziness, confusion, and fainting.
Problems from Adrenal Insufficiency
Prolonged abuse of tramadol affects the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing the hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and aldosterone. Repeated misuse of the drug may result in adrenal insufficiency, or the human body’s incapacity to produce these hormones the way it should. Because of this, the person may experience a lack of appetite, constant fatigue, and muscle weakness.
Kidney and Liver Damage
Tramadol abuse is also linked to permanent damage in the liver and the kidneys. A common consequence of tramadol overdose is acute liver failure.
In the long term, tramadol misuse may also cause a decline in mental sharpness. This can be dangerous in situations where the user overestimates their aptitude for complex tasks, such as driving a car. Not only does it put the user in greater peril, it also endangers others around them.
Problems in One’s Personal Life and Relationships
Lastly, tramadol abuse can take a substantial toll on the user’s relationships and personal development. Their increasing dependence on the drug may cause a decline in their work or school performance, or their contributions to their household. Their unhealthy behaviors with tramadol may also sow distrust, frustration, and anger among loved ones. And just like one’s physical condition after abusing tramadol for a long time, these will take a long time to heal.
If You’re Dealing With Substance Use Disorder Because of Tramadol, Get Help Today
You won’t be a day too late if you seek help for someone at risk of tramadol addiction today. Prevent these long-term consequences of tramadol abuse from happening, and get help for yourself or a loved one now.
This post has been sponsored by Glen Dimaandal Inc.
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