Tramadol is an opioid available only by prescription and commonly under the brand name Ultram, among others. It is indicated for the treatment of acute moderate to severe pain. Tramadol can be detected in the body using the following tests:
- Urine, which can detect tramadol within two hours of use and for up to 40 hours
- Hair follicles, which can identify use for up to 90 days, possibly longer
- Saliva and blood, both of which can identify use for about 24 hours.
The process of tramadol clearance begins in the liver, and it has a half-life of approximately 5-6 hours. One metabolite produced during this process has a longer half-life of 8 hours. A drug’s half-life is defined as the amount of time it takes for an individual’s system to purge half of the consumed substance.
Personal factors can affect how long tramadol and its metabolites stay in the system, including the following:
- Metabolism rate
- Hydration levels
- Amount used
- Duration of use
How Is Tramadol Used?
Like other opioids, tramadol acts in the brain by binding to and stimulating opioid receptors. When tramadol attaches to certain receptors, a person’s perception of pain is reduced, and, as a result, he or she will experience pain relief.
Tramadol is also an MAOI (monoamine reuptake inhibitor) that increases the bioavailability of certain vital chemicals in the body. These include serotonin, which is essential for feelings of reward and well-being. This effect is believed to contribute to its reliable effectiveness as a pain reliever.
The effects of immediate-release tramadol will last for about 4–6 hours. Extended-release tramadol can induce effects that last for about 12-24 hours.
How Is Tramadol Misused?
When used as directed by a doctor, tramadol is a relatively safe and effective medication that can help people who suffer from pain. Abuse of this drug, however, can increase the risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
The recreational use or abuse of tramadol is dangerous and can lead to an overdose. Abuse includes using tramadol more frequently, in higher amounts, or for longer than prescribed. It also includes tampering with tramadol, such as crushing pills and snorting the remaining residue.
Tramadol is also a popular product of drug diversion. Moreover, an individual may receive the drug from friends or relatives and abuse it without a prescription. It may also be bought and sold on the black market.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes a warning label on the packaging for tramadol products. It states that it has a potential for abuse and that this medication can cause physical and psychological dependence. There is a higher risk of this occurring among persons with a history of substance abuse.
One of the most dangerous risks of tramadol abuse is an overdose, which can be fatal. Symptoms of a tramadol overdose may include the following:
- Constricted pupils
- Uncontrolled vomiting
- Slow heart rate
- Cardiac arrest
- Perilously depressed breathing
- Cold and clammy skin
- Bluish tinted skin
- Severe drowsiness
A lethal overdose is increased if tramadol is used in conjunction with other depressant substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids. An overdose is considered to be a medical emergency. If you witness signs of an overdose, you are urged to call 911 immediately.
Withdrawal symptoms related to tramadol will onset after about 12 hours after the last dose. These will peak in intensity within 24-72 days after the last dose then abate after approximately one week.
Withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Pupil dilation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain
Professionally monitored detox can be extremely helpful for those with a tramadol dependence. In a supervised clinical environment, the person undergoing withdrawal is monitored for potential health issues and can receive emotional support. Medication-assisted treatment to reduce the number and intensity withdrawal symptoms may be provided as well.
Getting Help for Tramadol Addiction
Fortunately, there are many qualified treatment programs available to help those in need to navigate the addiction recovery process. Just Believe Recovery is a specialized rehab facility that offers treatment in both partial-hospitalization and residential formats.
Treatment is characterized by psychotherapy, counseling, and group support, and it may also include medication-assisted treatment. We also offer substance abuse education, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning, among other essential services.
Co-occurring disorders, such as mental health conditions or chronic pain, can also be addressed in a rehab program. This integrated treatment is vital to reduce the likelihood of relapse and improves the overall physical and mental well-being of persons in recovery.
Our team of caring addiction specialists is dedicated to ensuring that each person we treat receives all of the tools they need to recover from addiction. We believe that every individual deserves a chance to reclaim healthy and fulfilling lives.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to tramadol, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today!