Commonly abused prescription drugs – 2: Dangers of tramadol abuse
Tramadol is an opioid that is administered to patients to alleviate moderate to moderately severe pain. The properties of this drug are similar to that of opioid analgesics as it works in the brain to change how the body feels and reacts to pain.
Despite being considered legal for use, tramadol, like any other drug, not only affects relationships, but also causes addiction, emotional turmoil and suicidal tendencies. Besides causing opiate-like effects, tramadol abuse can cause an array of complications. In fact, critics have come out with findings suggesting that tramadol abuse is causing crashes due to misconceptions about its potential dangers.
Unfortunately, tramadol is increasingly being abused for reasons other than relieving pain. Contrary to the popular belief, several studies have highlighted the fact that this drug has a higher potential to be abused and cause an overdose.
With the inclusion of tramadol under the Controlled Substances Act by 10 states, the policymakers have finally paid attention to the clarion call against the drug that has caused 20,000 emergency department visits in 2011, as per an analysis by the Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today.
Generally, tramadol is taken orally in its tablet form; however, those who abuse tramadol crush the drug and snort it. While this method succeeds in making the user feel high, it also increases his or her risk of developing some serious side effects, overdoses and even death. The current article, as part of the series “Commonly abused prescription drugs,” focuses on the negative consequences of tramadol abuse.
Warning signs of tramadol abuse
Some of the common signs of tramadol abuse, which when persist for long, needs to be shown to a doctor, are nausea, vomiting, constipation, sweating, sleeping problem, dry mouth, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, drowsiness and headaches.
The drug is also known to cause severe side effects, such as mood swings, hallucinations, abdominal pain, urination problems, fainting, seizures, loss of coordination, shallow breathing and difficulty waking up. Overall, the use of this medication increases the production of serotonin, with a rare risk of developing a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. This risk is amplified if the user takes other drugs that overstimulate serotonin. In case of an allergic reaction, which is another rare occurrence caused by tramadol, one can display symptoms, such as rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness and trouble breathing.
Drug interactions change how tramadol works
When tramadol interacts with other drugs, including both prescription and nonprescription drugs, it may change how the drug works or increase the risk of serious side effects. Some of the common drugs that are known to negatively interact with tramadol are as follows:
- Pain medications (e.g. pentazocine, nalbuphine, butorphanol and naltrexone)
- Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors (e.g. isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, moclobemide, phenelzine, procarbazine, rasagiline, selegiline and tranylcypromine)
- Other drugs that increase serotonin production (e.g. street drugs like MDMA and St. John’s wort, and certain antidepressants like fluoxetine, paroxetine, duloxetine and venlafaxine)
- Other products (alcohol, allergy medications, cough and cold medications, medications for sleep or anxiety (e.g. alprazolam, diazepam and zolpidem), muscle relaxants, other narcotic pain relievers (e.g. morphine) and psychiatric medicines (e.g. risperidone, amitriptyline, trazodone)
- Other medications that affect the removal of tramadol from the body along with changing the way tramadol interacts with the body, such as quinidine, azole antifungals (e.g. itraconazole), HIV drugs (e.g. rifampin), drugs that treat seizures (e.g. carbamazepine), etc. In addition, tramadol may impede certain laboratory tests dealing with amylase and lipase concentration in the body, thereby resulting in false test results.
Living an addiction-free life
By taking appropriate precautions and discussing the medical history with the doctor, one can avoid inadvertently falling prey to tramadol abuse. Moreover, people with the problem of drinking and drug abuse in the past have an increased chance of developing an addiction to tramadol.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse, contact the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment to access the best evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-5757 or chat online to get information about drug addiction treatment centers in Texas.
Read the other parts of the series “Commonly abused prescription drugs:”