Does Tramadol help with opiate withdrawals?
Tramadol is getting more interest as an alternative medication for helping reduce the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms in people getting off heroin and its by-products. Why are doctors excited about this potential? And can Tramadol really help manage symptoms of withdrawal from opiates like heroin? We explore here.
Why do doctors use Tramadol for opiate withdrawal?
1. Low potential for abuse
2. More efficient than other medications
3. Less side effects than other medications
1. Tramadol is considered a low-risk pain killer
Can Tramadol get you high? Yes. But compared with other medications, Tramadol seems to have low abuse potential. In fact, Tramadol is a non-scheduled analgesic (pain killer) medication, which means that it has not been classified as a narcotic by the DEA and is viewed as a drug with minimal potential for abuse. Still, products that contain tramadol hydrochloride such as Ultracet and Ultram can be addictive.
2. Tramadol is superior for managing some withdrawal symptoms
Many medications have been used to treat opiate and opioid withdrawal symptoms in the past few decades. Aside from new methods of withdrawal such as rapid opiate detox, these medicines have been tested and are generally thought to be safe. Each has its clinical strengths and limitations. But in clinical trials, Tramadol has been shown to (slightly) better manage opioid withdrawal syndrome. Further, doctors and researchers testing Tramadol in comparison with other medications have found that Tramadol is more efficient in controlling opioid withdrawal symptoms such as depression, irritability, anxiety and drug cravings. Other medicines currently used to treat opiate withdrawal include:
- parenteral buprenorphine
- sublingual buprenorphine
3. Tramadol has less severe side effects than other medications
In addition to lower dependency potential and efficiency in controlling the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, Tramadol also comes with less side effects than other medications. People who take Tramadol experience relative lack of respiratory depression and toxicity, less sweating and drowsiness than with other medications such as methadone. Furthermore, Tramadol effects psychomotor tasks involving speed, coordination, pattern recognition, and set shifting tasks less than other drugs used to treat withdrawal.
Who can benefit from Tramadol during withdrawal?
Tramadol is especially useful in cases of low dosage of opium or heroin use. More specifically, Tramadol compares favorably to other drugs used during detox in the management of acute withdrawal from less than 10 bags per day of heroin. If you use more than this amount, Tramadol may not help you during withdrawal.
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