Long Term Effects of Tramadol

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Learn about the long term effects of tramadol and dangers of dependence.

According to the Mayo Clinic, tramadol is a drug that belongs to a group of medicines called opioid analgesics. It is used to relieve moderate to severe pain, and is often prescribed post surgery. It is a controlled substance that has moderate addiction potential when abused.  Those who are prescribed tramadol should be closely monitored by their prescribing physician while taking the drug, as there is a risk of misuse and possible overdose. Typically, someone taking tramadol progresses to abusing it once a tolerance has developed. The user will begin taking larger amounts of the drug in order to get the same pain relieving effects. Many experts in the medical community have underestimated the long term effects of tramadol and its potential for abuse because although it is classified with other opiates, it is chemically different than drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone, even though it produces similar effects.  While it does not carry the same high risk for addiction as other opiates, it is still addictive. Someone taking tramadol will experience these short term effects that include:

  • Reduced pain. Tramadol effectively kills pain by modifying the transmission of pain signals to the brain so that you feel pain less intensely while taking the drug.
  • Tramadol can increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain, improving mood temporarily, producing feelings of euphoria and well being.
  • Reduced anxiety. Tramadol can produce feelings of relaxation as a result of how it alters brain chemistry.

These short term effects of tramadol are what often contribute to the abuse of tramadol and can lead to addiction, especially if the patient who is taking the drug is suffering from anxiety or depression. There are undesirable long term effects of tramadol that are associated with abuse as well, resulting in these tramadol addiction symptoms:

  • If users notice that they are developing a tolerance to tramadol and need to take more of it to achieve the same effects, they should recognize this as a red flag. This is the one of the first and most common tramadol addiction symptoms and it happens once the body has adapted to the presence of tramadol.
  • Physical dependence is one of the long term effects of tramadol, and the primary reason why tramadol should not be prescribed for long periods. Once the body becomes accustomed to the presence of tramadol, it may soon require it in order to maintain normal function. If the user stops taking it abruptly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Anyone who wishes to stop using tramadol should speak with his or her prescribing physician about weaning off of the drug slowly as an option before dependency turns into addiction.
  • Cognitive impairment. Most opioid drugs are associated with cognitive impairment and slowed reaction times. This issue becomes more apparent with long term use and is one of the long term effects of tramadol that can be dangerous in situations where the user may overestimate his or her ability to drive a car or handle complex tasks.

Tramadol addiction treatment is available for those who have inadvertently found themselves dependent on the drug. If you or a loved one is exhibiting tramadol addiction symptoms, or recognize some of the long term effects of tramadol resulting from your own use of the drug, it may be time to speak to your doctor about getting treatment to safely stop using it. Other long term effects of tramadol include:

  • Constipation
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Overdose
  • Respiratory depression – problems breathing
  • Infertility
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Suicidal thoughts

For more information about approaches to tramadol addiction treatment, visit: National Institute on Drug Abuse .  Here you will find information about drug addiction that is specifically related to dependency on opioids, how treatment includes safe methods for withdrawal, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention. Early recognition of an addiction results to effective treatment and reduced risk of relapse.

 

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tramadol-oral-route/precautions/drg-20068050

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0012486/?report=details

http://www.healthline.com/drugs/tramadol/oral-tablet#Dosage4

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction