Along with many other drugs, Tramadol is garnering a lot of attention in the addiction recovery field for its potential in treating opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Why do doctors use Tramadol for opiate withdrawal?
Unlike other drugs which treat opioid dependence—methadone and suboxone, to name a few—Tramadol has a low potential for abuse. Like methadone and suboxone, however, it is a chemical substance which can be abused and cause an addiction. It’s also more efficient than other medications, with less of the side effects.
A superior aid
In the past few decades, many, many drugs have been tested for opioid dependence: clonidine, LAAM, levomethadyl, naloxone, naltrexone—and several more. Each of these drugs has its own clinical strengths and limitations. Tramadol simply tests slightly better than the rest. Doctors and researchers have found it to be the most efficient in treating depression, irritability, anxiety, and cravings.
Tramadol has less severe side effects than other medications
In general, people who take Tramadol experience some minor respiratory depression and toxicity, but much less sweating and drowsiness than with the other medications. Tramadol also has little effect on coordination, pattern recognition, reaction speed, and other psychomotor tasks, which cannot be said for many other medications used to treat alcohol withdrawal, like Xanax. Even when used properly, certain barbiturates can cause irreparable brain changes and early onset of consequential brain disorders.
Who can benefit from Tramadol during withdrawal?
Like all pharmaceutical treatments for addiction, Tramadol is most useful in cases of minor opioid abuse. Once a patient is deep in the addiction cycle, and they’ve become accustomed the bad habits, it’s unlikely that medication alone will solve the problem: you need behavioral intervention.
Some people assume that prescription medication will essentially “cure” them of their illness. Not only is this mindset incorrect–there are no such magic potions–it’s likely to cause problems, because it fuels overconfidence, which causes relapse. These meds work in conjunction with an overall healthy lifestyle: the right kind of food, of sleep, of activity. Sometimes, they don’t work at all, which means it’s time to A) consider another, or B) continue forward without any, and see how you do.
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