Tramadol: Understanding It and the Withdrawal Process
The Drug Enforcement Administration has labeled tramadol as a Schedule IV drug. This makes it a controlled substance. One study tracked prescriptions of this substance during a four-year period and noted that prescription use increased by 22.8% between 2012 and 2015.
Tramadol is an incredibly effective opioid painkiller. While this is good for those needing to manage pain, it also means that there’s a risk of developing a substance use disorder with this Schedule IV controlled substance. However, developing a disorder is rare with tramadol. It doesn’t happen as often as stronger substances. Still, some people become dependent on this medicine, which may increase as its use increases.
One thing we know at First City Recovery Center is that dependence is hard to overcome. Of course, with the help of our team, folks have been able to overcome it but not without genuine sacrifice and hard work. It’s important to understand what it means to overcome tramadol substance use disorder. You can’t overcome this on your own. Going through withdrawals can put your life at risk if this process is not monitored carefully. Withdrawals can lead to things like dehydration and hypernatremia.
People must be properly hydrated during this process. Hypernatremia is a condition where sodium levels in the blood rise a little too much, which could put you at risk of heart failure.
Both issues could occur if you vomit too much or deal with chronic diarrhea and no one monitors your health. Our team is aware of all of this. Experience helps us address this while we help you overcome your tramadol substance use disorder.
How Does the Disorder Take Hold of You?
The reality is quite complex. For one, some people are more susceptible to substance use disorders. These folks react more strongly to stimulants, which makes it easier for them to become dependent on a particular substance.
It goes beyond that, though. Psychological factors need to be considered. Some folks are dealing with various psychological issues that make them susceptible to this type of disorder. Sometimes, these psychological issues encourage people to cling to the substance they’re having problems with.
With tramadol, things become more complex. As mentioned earlier, this drug is an effective painkiller. Some people who take it are suffering and must take it. The drug helps suppress pain by causing a reaction within the opioid receptors in the body of the user.
The drug also produces a calm and relaxed feeling. Sometimes, these types of feelings are alluring; it keeps people coming back. In addition to that, most people would prefer not to feel pain, so a substance use disorder can develop out of necessity.
We know how tragic that sounds. It’s a double-edged sword. After enough time, a person taking tramadol becomes tolerant of the substance’s effect and starts to take more. The more someone takes, the more likely an overdose becomes.
Diving Into the Withdrawal Process
There are two types of withdrawal processes for this substance. The first is probably the one you’d expect, which is the traditional opioid withdrawal process. The second one is the atypical opioid withdrawal process.
Part of the reason the withdrawal process could go either way is because of the way tramadol reacts in the body. Of course, it interacts with opioid receptors, but it also does one other thing that common opioids don’t do. It blocks neurotransmitters that your body produces, like norepinephrine and serotonin, from getting absorbed like they’re supposed to.
We’ll talk to you and figure out what route to take as you begin your journey to overcoming tramadol substance use disorder. No matter which process you go through, there are two phases of opioid withdrawal. We want you to understand these phases so that you know what to expect and are mentally prepared.
Early Withdrawal Phase
During the early withdrawal phase, you can experience various symptoms. These include:
• A runny noise
• Mild to excessive sweating
• Inexplicable tearing up
• Yawning often
• Mild to severe muscle and body aches
• Issues falling and staying asleep
• Feeling agitated
• Heart rate increase
• Fast breathing
These symptoms are the most common, but they can vary. You may experience some of these or all of them. They could come at you in waves, or they might hit you all at once. No matter how this phase manifests, you can be sure that our team will be with you every step of the way.
Late Withdrawal Phase
The late withdrawal phase also comes with its own set of symptoms. You may experience:
• Mild to severe chills or goosebumps
• Mild to severe stomach pain, some even experience cramping
• Loss of appetite
• Pupil dilation
• Hard to think or concentrate
• Irritability, usually unprovoked
• Extreme drug craving
Again, these symptoms depend on the person. No one goes through the same withdrawal process, but our team is ready to deal with whatever you go through.
Most people who start the withdrawal process feel these feelings early on. Within 12 hours of the last dosage, people start to feel mild withdrawal symptoms. Some people may take a little longer, but 12 hours is fairly standard.
Since we’re talking about symptoms you might go through when you stop using tramadol, we think it’s important to mention there are a few rare symptoms you should be aware of. These include confusion, paranoia, panic attacks, numbness of the body, and hallucinations. Hopefully, you don’t deal with too much of this, but you should know what’s possible.
Looking at the Withdrawal Timeline Closely
Surely, you’re starting to get a picture of what it might be like to go through tramadol withdrawal and detox. It can be quite uncomfortable, but some symptoms aren’t too different from the regular flu.
You know that these symptoms are going creep up quickly after your last dosage. As just mentioned, this usually happens within 12 hours. Things will likely get worse a few days after that. Those initial symptoms are the early withdrawal symptoms that will turn into more severe ones in a few days. After the peak, those feelings taper off.
The symptoms you’ll continue to feel are the psychological ones. Those tend to stick around for some time. We know the physical symptoms are scary, and they can be dangerous if they aren’t monitored properly, but they don’t last too long. Once you get over that hurdle, the real work begins.
The reality is your brain has become dependent on tramadol, and once the brain gets used to something, it takes a while for it to revert to the way it used to be. The brain’s dependence on tramadol depends on the time of use, the amounts taken, and personal factors that differ from person to person.
You should also know that the strength of a person’s dependence is also influenced by the way tramadol was taken. If the substance was used as the doctor prescribed and abused here and there, then the dependence on the substance might not be as strong compared to other tramadol use methods.
Some people inject it while others snort it or smoke it. If tramadol is mixed with other drugs or alcohol, then a person’s dependence could be even greater. If a person’s dependence on tramadol is great, it’ll take even longer to overcome it. Part of the reason our team does its best to get to know you and establish trust is that we want you to feel comfortable talking to us about these details.
This information helps us create a detoxification plan that will work for your specific situation. We know that going through some of these details isn’t going to feel great. We also know that going through this information takes time, which may feel like the process is longer than it needs to be. The more personalized our detoxification plan is, the more effective it’s going to be.
Our plan is going to include a full evaluation of underlying mental health conditions that could be making it harder to let go of tramadol. Understanding these is key to overcoming what you’re going through.
We will also talk to you about your family history. Sometimes, this could be a bit of a sore subject for some, but it’s important to understand if there’s a history of substance use disorder in your family. It could help us to understand what you’re going through now. Sometimes, one reason you’re having a hard time letting go of this disorder could be tucked away in your family history. Allowing that issue or those issues to come forth will help you confront them and let go of them. Doing this may help you cope more effectively with life and help prevent you from developing this disorder again.
It’s also possible that the disorder hit you harder because you’ve suffered other issues, such as trauma or severe neglect. Sometimes, chronic stress could make it easy for a person to develop a substance use disorder. It’s no secret that many Americans feel chronically stressed for various reasons. Being in this state for a long time could make you feel trapped. This makes you susceptible to this type of disorder. After all, tramadol increases feelings of calmness and relaxation. That could feel like the warm sun in the middle of winter.
Our team will work with you to uncover some of these issues. The longer they go unaddressed, the longer it might be before you recover from your tramadol substance use disorder. As we mentioned earlier, going through the physical withdrawal symptoms may be challenging, but it’s only the first step.
There’s a lot to go over, and you should get answers to all your questions before you move forward. We want you to feel confident that our team at First City Recovery Center can take care of your needs while you go through this transitional phase in your life. Please, give us a call, talk to us, and tell us what you’re worried about. We’ll help clarify anything you have questions about.