Substance abuse disorders can involve more than just street drugs. Many people become addicted to prescription medications. Statistics show that an estimated 18 million people ages 12 and over misused prescription drugs in 2017.1 While everyone is at risk, youth, and older adults may be at greater risk than other age groups. People can become addicted to all prescription drugs, but especially opioids like tramadol. We’re going to take a look at the dangers of tramadol abuse and the available help to treat this type of substance abuse disorder.
What is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a prescription pain killer. It is in a class of medicines known as opiate analgesics and is also sold under the names Ultram, Ultram ER, Ultracet, and ConZip. 2 Tramadol comes in the forms of tablets, solutions, and extended-release tablets. Because it is intended for moderate to severe pain, it alters the way the brain and body respond to pain.
Tramadol can become habit-forming, especially in people who take it for a long time. People who have been taking it for a while should talk to their doctors because withdrawal symptoms are common and can become severe.
What are the Dangers of Snorting Tramadol?
While tramadol is intended to be taken orally, people also snort it to get high. When tramadol is snorted rather than taken by mouth, it reaches the bloodstream faster. The mucous membrane in the nasal passage absorbs the drug more quickly. This is what helps to get it to the blood and brain quicker than swallowing a pill.
Since this is not the intended use of the drug, there are severe risks to snorting tramadol, including:
Snorting tramadol allows more of the drug to get into your body. This may increase a person’s tolerance and make them crave more of the drug to get the same effect, which is how addiction can form.
While anyone taking tramadol can experience side effects, they may be worse when the drug is snorted. These side effects include, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Mood swings
- Loss of consciousness
- Bloody nose
- Respiratory infections
When a person snorts tramadol, they could be damaging their nasal passages. The tissue that lines the inside of the nose is delicate, so repeated snorted can harm it. This can lead to trouble breathing as well as loss of taste and smell.
It’s also not uncommon for people to develop a deviated septum or notice a change in their breathing, including a whistling sound.
Tramadol abuse may also lead to serotonin syndrome. 3 This is a reaction that alters the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that helps to stabilize mood and feelings of well-being.
Serotonin syndrome can lead to severe problems such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
Any of these conditions may require medical attention.
Getting Help for Tramadol Abuse at Ocean Hills Recovery
If you or a loved one is battling tramadol abuse, help is available at Ocean Hills Recovery. Our California drug treatment center offers customized plans to help each patient with their substance abuse disorder.
We understand that each person’s addiction is different, so their path to sobriety also needs to be different. At Ocean Hills Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment plans that include group and private therapy sessions and inpatient and outpatient care. Once you contact us, we can help you determine which treatment plan that best suits your needs.
We also provide detox services to help patients eliminate the drug from their bodies. We have medical supervisors who oversee detoxification to help patients deal with the difficult symptoms of withdrawal. Many people who undergo supervised detox have a greater chance of getting sober and maintaining sobriety.
For more information on the drug treatment services at Ocean Hills Recovery, reach out to us online. Let our experienced staff help you live a fulfilled life without drugs and alcohol.
 What is the scope of prescription drug misuse? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
 Tramadol: MedlinePlus Drug Information, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695011.html
 Tramadol Pill Alone May Cause Serotonin Syndrome (nih.gov), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819313/
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.