Is Tramadol addictive?

YES. Tramadol is addictive, even when Tramadol is prescribed by a doctor. We review what Tramadol is made of, and how you get addicted to Tramadol here.

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YES. Tramadol is addictive.

What exactly makes Tramadol addictive? How can you tell if you’re addicted to tramadol? We’ll review these questions here. Plus, we invite your questions about the addictive potential of Tramadol at the end.

What is Tramadol used for?

Tramadol hydrochloride is indicated for the management of moderate to severe pain. Tramadol comes in tablet form and is an opioid agonist medication. When taken as prescribed by a doctor, Tramadol offers pain relief as needed. However, when people snort Tramadol or take Tramadol to try to achieve a euphoric high, or used long-term to control pain, Tramadol can become addictive.

What is Tramadol made of?

Tramadol is an opium-derived synthetic substance. It’s not a true opiate, which occur in nature. Instead, Tramadol is created in a lab setting and is called an “opioid” because it has the same mechanism of action as opiates on the brain and central nervous system.  How long Tramadol in system for metabolism is a half life of about 6 hours and Tramadol clears the body in roughly 1-2 days after use.

How addictive is Tramadol?

Tramadol is fairly addictive when compared with other prescription medications, but becomes more addictive when you take Tramadol to get high. In fact, Tramadol has a similar abuse liability to other opiate and opioid pain medications – which is ironic, because it is sometimes used to treat the withdrawal symptoms of other, harsher opiate pain medications. Tramadol is not, however, a controlled substance. This is because it’s not perceived as being “as addictive” as many similar medications. It simply doesn’t work as well to create a high as other opioid medications. But how does Tramadol addiction occur?

Tramadol affects the central nervous system and can create feelings of euphoria, or “getting high.” But Tramadol isn’t just addictive because of its chemical properties. There are social factors at work as in the environment of a potential Tramadol addict, as well. Although Tramadol doesn’t seem to cause addiction as easily as other analgesic opiates, Tramadol can be more addictive for people who have a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Tramadol dependence vs. addiction

There is a difference between Tramadol dependence and Tramadol addiction. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one. You can become physically dependent on Tramadol when using it for medical purposes, whether or not you abuse it. A physical dependence on Tramadol is a tolerance to the medication, requiring increased doses to achieve the same level of pain relief over time. Physical dependence also means that Tramadol withdrawal symptoms manifest when attempting to lower the dosage or quit taking Tramadol.

Likewise, drug addiction can involve tolerance and withdrawal effects. The difference is that a Tramadol addict will experience strong cravings for the drug, and compulsively use the drug despite negative consequences. In addition to the physical symptoms of dependence, a Tramadol addict experiences mental/psychological characteristics of drug need.

How do you get addicted to Tramadol?

If you take Tramadol for pain with a doctor’s prescription how do you know you’re not becoming addicted? If you’re taking Tramadol as directed by your doctor, drug addiction to Tramadol is unlikely. In general, you can get addicted to Tramadol if you take it in a manner other than normally prescribed. While normal medical use can cause addiction to Tramadol, it’s less likely.

But if you’ve started trying to achieve a high off your medication by taking larger doses than directed, you’re much more likely to become addicted to Tramadol. And you’re at a higher risk of Tramadol addiction if you’ve been addicted to other drugs or alcohol in the past. If you choose to abuse Tramadol, it’s possible you’ll become addicted. Some ways that people misuse and abuse Tramadol are:

  • crushing Tramadol into a powder and snorting Tramadol
  • crushing Tramadol to dissolve in water and inject intravenously
  • taking Tramadol in higher doses than prescribed
  • taking Tramadol more frequently than prescribed

Signs of Tramadol addiction

Signs of Tramadol addiction include physical dependence on Tramadol, coupled with a psychological craving for the drug. Furthermore, you may be addicted to Tramadol if you need Tramadol to deal with stress or cope with the world around you. Other signs of Tramadol addiction include:

  1. Continued Tramadol abuse despite negative consequences
  2. Craving Tramadol and using it compulsively
  3. Seeking Tramadol in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain

Tramadol addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about Tramadol addiction potential? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions about Tramadol or other opiate and opioid medications personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference sources: DailyMed: Tramadol hydrochloride and acetaminophen
PubMed: A comparison of the abuse liability of tramadol, NSAIDs, and hydrocodone in patients with chronic pain
PubMed: Drug dependence and abuse potential of tramadol
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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