Addiction to Ultram and Drug Abuse
Government health officials and doctors worldwide consider Ultram to have a low dependency
risk for the typical patient, as long as the drug is taken under a doctor's care. However, Ultram
can be addictive if it is taken as a street drug. Also, cases exist where patients who took dosages
of 400 milligrams per day for 90 days or longer actually became addicted to Ultram. This is why
physician's input while taking Ultram is strongly recommended.
On May 12, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent the company, Johnson
& Johnson, a letter that warned about a website advertising Ultram which actually overstated
the drug's ability to control pain. In the same letter, the FDA also stated to Johnson & Johnson
that the potential risks of using Ultram weren't pointed out well enough on the website. Finally,
the FDA said the original manufacturer of tramadol (Ultram), the German company Grünenthal
GmbH, was responsible for underrating the addictive nature of this drug.
Because of this letter, the “Physicians’ Desk Reference” for the next year published stronger
warnings concerning Ultram's possible addictive qualities, the possible side effects and a
statement that the drug should not be prescribed in place of opiate-type drugs for patients who
have experienced former drug addiction.
Although Ultram is sometimes considered a narcotic-like pain reliever, it is not a narcotic.
Narcotics are connected to the opioid drugs, like morphine and heroin. These drugs are
considered illegal drugs by the legal system. When you receive a medical professional's
prescription for Ultram, you have every right to possess this drug.
Physicians consider Ultram to be a μ-opioid receptor agonist. This means that Ultram influences
certain cells in the brain, also known as μ-opioid receptors. These receptors are in the midbrain.
The word, “agonist”, simply means that Ultram is able to trigger these particular brain cells.
When triggered, these cells release the hormone serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates
appetite, learning, digestion, memory, moods and sleep. Ultram also holds back the body’s
distribution of norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter and hormone that helps control stress.
The result is that Ultram prevents the body from realizing pain exists.
Typically, true narcotics make people drowsy, while dulling the senses. Ultram, when taken
correctly, should not cause sleepiness, nor is it as addictive as heroin or morphine. Since it is not
listed as a controlled substance, Ultram is not legally a narcotic.
Ultram is sometimes a target for people who abuse drugs, or who have a drug addiction. If a
physician or pharmacist suspects drug abuse or the mishandling of the drug in a manner that's
illegal, they should use caution when prescribing Ultram.
As far as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned, Ultram is a non-controlled
substance. However, the states of Oklahoma, New York, Mississippi, Illinois, West Virginia,
Arkansas, Wyoming, Ohio, Kentucky, North Dakota and Tennessee, and the U.S. military,
categorize Ultram as a controlled substance on the Schedule IV level. What this means is that
Ultram is at the second to the lowest potential for drug abuse. This also means that people who
take Ultram have the potential for the same level of dependency, whether psychological or
physical. Drugs listed as Schedule IV can be refilled by prescription up to five times within a six
In Sweden, Ultram receives a Schedule 8 controlled drug classification, which is in a similar
classification as drugs like dextropropoxyphene and codeine, with the exception that patients can
obtain Ultram with a normal prescription. Ultram in Australia is classified as a Schedule 4 drug,
available only in a prescription. Ultram in Mexico is found in its tramadol derivative, is mixed
with paracetamol and is available under the brand name of Tramacel, which is available without
If Ultram is used as a recreational drug, users of this drug face potential hazards. First of
all, people who take high amounts of Ultram may have convulsions. If Ultram is taken with
methadone, the user can experience insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns. Finally, Ultram can
give the recreational user dizziness, a loss of appetite and a nauseous stomach. Because of the
stronger side effects, fewer people tend to use Ultram as a recreational drug compared to taking
opiates, so there are fewer cases of recreational abuse.
Once people become addicted to Ultram, they seem not to be able to control their abusive
tendencies, even when they realize that the drug may be harming their bodies. They continue
using the drug no matter what. The drug abuser experiences a strong desire for Ultram. As a
result, the Ultram drug abuser tends to use certain tactics to gain more of the drug. These tactics might
include getting multiple prescriptions from numerous physicians; making frequent visits
to emergency rooms at medical facilities; declining to be tested for drugs; constantly misplacing
prescriptions; and entering medical facilities near the end of office hours, when medical
professionals may be most distracted.
Although an addiction to Ultram can occur, most people who take the drug do not develop a
dependency on the drug. The key to proper handling of Ultram lies in using the drug under the
careful monitoring of a medical professional. A physician will assess the patient's condition at
regular intervals to ensure that Ultram addiction isn't a problem. If addiction seems possible,
a doctor can decide when the best time and method occurs for the patient to gradually quit the