Marketed as a relatively safe painkiller with a low potential for addiction, Ultram (its generic name is tramadol) is prescribed for the relief of moderate to severe pain. But many users have reported that this synthetic opioid drug is habit-forming, producing physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit or cut back on the medication.
According to the American Cancer Society, Ultram works by activating the opioid receptors in the brain that respond to pain. Some users become addicted after taking Ultram for the relief of chronic pain symptoms. Others get hooked on the drug after taking it for recreational use. No matter how addiction first begins, anyone who continues to use a drug in spite of its negative consequences deserves the opportunity to recover. If your Ultram use has taken over your life, a professional treatment program can help you regain control and find healthy ways to manage your pain.
Is Ultram Addictive?
If you’re living with pain from a motor vehicle accident, sports injury or chronic illness, you may have tried several pain medications before you found relief. Finding a medication that relieves chronic pain without causing dependence and addiction can be very challenging. When Ultram was introduced to the market, the drug was advertised as being less habit-forming than opiate medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone or codeine.
An extended-release form of the medication, Ultram ER, is available for people who need pain relief for longer periods of time. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning letter to the manufacturer of Ultram ER, stating that the company hadn’t provided enough information to the public about the potentially negative side effects of the medication — including addiction.
How Does Ultram Addiction Begin?
The road to addiction is different for every drug user. For people who live with chronic pain, dependence develops as a result of taking Ultram every day for a long period of time. Eventually, the body may become dependent on the drug, making the user feel sick or agitated if he or she is deprived of the medication. This state is known as withdrawal.
The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants notes that some of the side effects of tramadol are similar to the effects of opiate withdrawal. Other side effects are unique to tramadol and related to its effect on the neurotransmitters that affect your moods and emotions. If you suddenly reduce your dose of Ultram or try to quit too quickly after using the drug, you may experience:
Like opium-based drugs, Ultram can produce sensations of euphoria as well as reducing feelings of pain. Some users report that they have a higher level of physical energy after taking Ultram. For recreational users, these pleasurable effects may become so habit-forming that the occasional use turns into dependence and full-blown addiction. Recovery from Ultram addiction may require detox to clear the drug from your system, followed by a rehabilitation program that addresses the drug’s effects on your mind and body.
Warning Signs of Ultram Addiction
Ultram addiction can cause a high level of psychological denial about the problem. Denial, or the refusal to believe that you have a problem, protects you against the possibility of losing access to a drug that you need to function normally. It also protects you against society’s negative associations with drug addiction. In fact, addiction is a chronic disease that requires intensive, professional treatment. If you or someone you care about has the following signs of Ultram addiction, it’s time to seek help through a professional treatment program:
- You continue to use Ultram, even though your drug use is having a negative effect on your body, your relationships, your job or your finances.
- You need to take higher doses of Ultram to get the same effects that you felt in the beginning.
- You request refills more often than usual in order to get more of the drug.
- You forge prescriptions or steal from friends or family members to meet your need for Ultram.
- You see more than one doctor in order to get multiple prescriptions.
- You’ve tried to stop using the medication, but your withdrawal symptoms and cravings drive you back every time.
Ultram addiction can affect your mood and emotions as well as your body. If you’ve developed an addiction to Ultram, you may feel depressed, anxious, unfocused or even suicidal when you can’t take the medication. Taking Ultram with alcohol, another drug that depresses the central nervous system, can intensify your mood disturbances.
Addiction affects your relationships with others: family, friends, coworkers and employers. Ultram abuse can change the way you interact with your spouse, partner or children, making you appear to be a stranger in their eyes.
Your need for Ultram may drive you to do things that you never would have considered in the past, like stealing, lying or cheating. You may be addicted to tramadol if the drug has affected your life in the following ways:
- You get angry or defensive when someone criticizes your Ultram use.
- A significant other has threatened to end your relationship if you don’t give up the medication.
- A healthcare provider has told you that you’re misusing the drug and refuses to prescribe it for you anymore.
- A boss has threatened to terminate your employment if you don’t get help.
- You’ve had problems at school because of your prescription drug use.
The sooner you reach out for help, the greater your chances of making a full recovery from Ultram addiction. Although it’s hard to make that first phone call, admitting that you can’t quit this drug alone may save your life.
What to Expect From Ultram Rehab
If you’ve become dependent on Ultram, you’re far from alone. Addiction to prescription painkillers is a growing problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 12 million people over the age of 11 used prescription analgesics without a doctor’s approval in 2010. Even more disturbing, the CDC notes that close to 15,000 Americans died from an overdose of prescription pain medication in 2008.
A comprehensive rehabilitation program for Ultram addiction may begin with medically supervised detoxification. During the detox phase, you’ll be monitored by clinical professionals, and you may receive medications to help you cope with the side effects of withdrawal. After detox, you’ll progress through the stages of rehab, attending individual counseling sessions and support group meetings. If you have multiple chemical dependencies or a co-occurring mental health disorder, you should be treated for these conditions at the same time.
Finding healthy ways to manage chronic pain is one of the most important tasks of Ultram recovery. With the help of the addiction specialists in your treatment program, you’ll learn how methods like biofeedback therapy, hypnotherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga can help reduce stress and minimize physical pain. You’ll also address the underlying emotional triggers for drug abuse and learn how to handle the stresses of daily life without turning back to drugs or alcohol.
Ultram addiction usually doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does recovery from drug dependency. At Axis, our individualized approach to treatment helps you meet your recovery goals within a realistic time frame. We encourage you to contact us at any time for answers to your questions about Ultram addiction and rehabilitation.