Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tramadol and Addiction

Synthetic pain reliever, Tramadol, is today advertised under the brand name Ultram. The mechanism of this medication has not yet been completely discovered but scientists believe it to be very similar to narcotic opiods, such as morphine. Interacting with the central nervous system, Tramadol connects with neurotransmitters in the brain and they modify the way pain is transmitted to the body. Used on a wide scale for the treatment of pain, Tramadol presents an opportunity for substance abuse and unfortunately many people are diagnosed with overdose. Still, Tramadol seems to hold an advantage over non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, having a reduced risk for internal bleeding.

Available on prescription, Tramadol is Available in tablets but also as vials. The tablets are of two kinds: immediate release with a dose of 50 mg and extended release which can contain 100, 200 or 300 mgs. The recommendation is for long-lasting and recurrent pain, caused by various medical conditions and without other known solutions. The extended-released tablets are preferred in the situations in patients who need treatment around the clock for prolonged periods of time and it seems that they have a very high efficiency rate.

One of the most important issues related to Tramadol is the one regarding dosage. Usually, doctors prescribe a dose between 50 and 100 mg at every 4-6 hours, with a maximum dose of 400-600 mg/day. A treatment plan with Tramadol usually starts with a dose of 25 mg/day, being increased over the following couple of days until it reaches 100 mg/day. According to the condition of the patient and the intensity of pain experienced, the dose might be increased or even reduced. The extended release tablets are recommended to be taken just one/day if they are of 100 mg, with a maximum dose of 300 mg. Neither of these pills must be crushed or the content diluted with water, as a high dose of Tramadol taken at once is similar to an overdose and could lead to severe symptoms.

What are the drug interactions for Tramadol? It is a known fact that carbamazepine (powerful anti-seizure medication) decreases the effect of Tramadol, deactivating the dynamic compounds of the drug in the body. Quinidine (drug used for correcting abnormal heart rhythms) is also said to influence the general effects of Tramadol, using the same mechanism as the first drug presented. Doctors warn against using Tramadol with MAO inhibitors or SSRI (serotonin inhibitors), as they can increase the severity of potential side effects, particularly those related to seizures (go online and find out more about the serotonin syndrome, rare but deadly serious).

Tramadol should never be taken in combination with alcohol, narcotic drugs or sedatives. The effects on the central nervous system are devastating and there is an increased risk for respiratory shock or cardiopulmonary arrest. The drug is forbidden to be taken during pregnancy as the effects in such situations have not been completely elucidated and the current findings are not optimistic at all. The same thing goes for nursing, Tramadol being easily transmitted to the baby through the mother’s milk.

When taken as recommended, Tramadol does not cause side effects and scientists have discovered that patients tolerate the medicine quite well. Some of the most common side effects are nausea, vertigo, somnolence and vomiting. As the array of symptoms described is varied, patients have express complaints regarding powerful headaches, excessive sweating, skin allergies and blurred vision. Abrupt interruption of the treatment has led in most cases to what is known as drug withdrawal syndrome, a very serious condition characterized by shock, tremors, hallucinations and extreme anxiety.

Tramadol is a powerful analgesic but at the same time it is addictive. Patients might be suffering from chronic pain and need such medication; when they become obsessed with taking the medication, seeking all abuse opportunities and taking unnecessary risks, then it becomes a problem. Taken in high doses, Tramadol causes serious changes in the addict’s brain and the consequences are extremely grave. If the initial stages are commonly manifested by a euphoric mood, the patient will end up feeling hyper alert, agitated and losing all contacts with reality. The only thing that matters is increasing the dosage but this is a vicious cycle as the body continues to develop tolerance.

Being dependent on Tramadol is very difficult to stop and even harder to keep under control. Patients experiencing withdrawal might become aggressive and incoherent. It is important that such situations are not transported into actual reality and people realize the serious consequences of their actions. This is not just a special warning; it is something anyone should pay attention to. Addiction is no way of life!