Ultram is one of the official brand names under which tramadol is marketed. It is a synthetic drug that produces opiate-like effects and is typically prescribed for pain, but can also be prescribed to treat fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome. Licensed physicians are highly likely to prescribe Ultram to patients before trying opiate-based narcotic drugs due to it being considered by the medical community to be not habit forming.
Unfortunately, those individuals who have a history of addiction and who are in need of non-narcotic pain relievers are very likely to be prescribed Ultram. Even though not an opioid, they still have the same opiate-like effects and users report the same kind of severe withdrawal symptoms seen in opiate users.
Ultram is not an opioid, but an opioid receptor agonist which induces serotonin release and inhibits reuptake of norepinephrine. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Users report experiencing being in a great mood and having extra energy while taking the drug without the lethargy and lowered functioning sometimes associated with narcotic pain-killers. This lack of narcotic effect, along with its non-narcotic label, has tricked many individuals into believing the drug is not habit-forming, but it is and users should be just as cautious with Ultram as with opiate-based narcotic medications.
Although not considered narcotic, many individuals find themselves hopelessly dependent on the drug. A quick internet search turns up thousands of posts from people who were lured into the "non-narcotic" label of this drug, only to find themselves both physically and psychologically addicted. For many years, Ultram was not regulated, making it readily available over the internet. As more people come forward with testimony about their experiences of dependence, the medical community is beginning to realize that it may need more regulation and several states have already passed legislation to classify it as a schedule IV drug, including Oklahoma, North Dakota, Mississippi, Kentucky, Wyoming, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Ohio.
There are two types of dependence in general: physiological and psychological. Physiological dependence is the body's need for the substance in order to function properly. When physiological dependence is present and the individual ceases consumption of the drug, withdrawal symptoms occur. The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms varies based on what dosage of the drug was taken and for how long. Psychological dependence occurs when an individual intensely desires a drug due to induce pleasurable effects. Typically, psychological dependence becomes apparent when the addicted person has a bad day or is under excessive stress and reaches for the drug as a way of coping.
Ultram is quickly becoming recognized in the medical community as inducing both physiological and psychological dependence. Due to the drug promoting release of serotonin, use of the drug as a coping mechanism is highly likely. Physiologically speaking, users report Ultram to produce the same withdrawal symptoms as opiate drugs. Many users claim the withdrawal symptoms from Ultram are more severe.
Ultram produces the same opiate-like withdrawal symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, excessive perspiration, abdominal cramps, body aches, joint pain, chills, irritability, increased heart rate, rhinorrhea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and depression.
In addition to these symptoms, there are also some withdrawal symptoms that Ultram users experience not seen in opiate withdrawal. This is due to Ultram affecting certain brain functions. These additional withdrawal symptoms include heart palpitations, tingling and numbness, restless leg syndrome, headache, and seizures.
Due to the risk of seizures, it is not recommended that users cease consumption of the drug without tapering off gradually. These withdrawal symptoms can be severe and the risk of seizures also means risk of death, so quitting cold turkey can be a dangerous move. Users who wish to cease use of the drug should contact their physician with their concerns so they may be placed on a slow taper.
Addiction occurs when an individual compulsively engages in an activity and refuses to cease said activity even in the face of severe negative consequences. Drug seeking behavior is a classic warning sign of addiction and may include lying about the severity of their pain to obtain more or higher doses of medication, visiting several doctors for the same problem to obtain multiple prescriptions, and hiding medication from the prying eyes of concerned loved ones.
Any individual who feels they may have an addiction to Ultram should seek help immediately. A licensed physician can taper an individual off the drug slowly to reduce the instance of withdrawal symptoms, but drug treatment counseling is also needed to combat the psychological addiction. Even if an individual does not feel they are addicted to Ultram should remember how unassuming the drug is, how elusive addiction can be in general, and should consider they may be dependent on it.