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Tramadol is not evil.

Tramadol does not have any malicious intent to get you 'hooked' or 'addicted'.

Tramadol provides a reliable source of relief to many pain sufferers and patients with other medical problems. The VARIABLE in all this ... is the individual patient, everyone's body makeup is different and so will react and produce different side effects with every drug they take. The only way to find out how your body will react is to give the prescribed drug a try, preferably for a couple weeks if this will be a long-term drug and if it doesn't suit you talk to your doctor. They most likely can find an alternative that will suit you. That's one of the reasons why there are so many drugs that do the same thing. wink

As for not knowing the possibilities of what might happen - there's only two people you can blame, one - your doctor for not giving you some important facts and two - yourself for not researching your prescription online.

Personally I think doctors even on the NHS should take more time to spell out the common effects and if it can be addictive but I do understand that they don't usually have the time. This isn't going to change anytime soon though, so...

There is a plethora of information online, on any prescription drug and it will tell you everything you need to know before you take it. Some websites, like drugs.com, even have an Interactions Checker which you can input all your medications into and check if they will react badly. It's very cool and I even was able to bring a bad mix up to my doctor who was able to clarify that the short amount of time I was taking the new drug would be ok with my regular prescription.

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Tramadol is a synthetic (man made) opiate. It does not mix well with natural opiates such as cocodamol as one person was complaining about in this forum. Always check with your doctor if you feel uncomfortable and always take prescriptions as advised. If you start mixing things up and not understanding the chemistry behind it then what do you expect?

COMMON SIDE EFFECTS: Constipation; diarrhea; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; headache; increased sweating; indigestion; mild itching; nausea; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weakness. Constipation seems to be the most common and would advise a gentle laxative.

If you have any SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS (see following) then go to A&E or see the doctor the next day depending on how bad it is, stop taking the Tramadol until you can get medical advice: Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); burning, numbness, or tingling; chest pain; confusion; difficult or painful urination; disorientation; excessive sweating; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever; hallucinations; loss of coordination; mood or mental changes (eg, depression, agitation); red, blistered, swollen, or peeling skin; seizures; severe dizziness or light-headedness; severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; severe or persistent headache; slow or shallow breathing; suicidal thoughts or behaviors; tremor; vision problems; wheezing.

I DON'T WANT TO BECOME ADDICTED: Well most people don't. If your condition will be temporary then consider asking for Codeine (a natural opiate) which doesn't work as well but will help relieve some of the pain. Always take paracetamol at the same time you take any opiate, my NHS doctors have always told me this, saying that they both work better together than just the opiate alone and in my experience this is true. Also when you feel the pain is minimal to moderate, try taking just paracetamol and skipping a dose of your opiate when possible. Once you do this more often than not you can either realize that you can live with minimal pain or only take the opiate sporadically as needed.

If you have a long term condition like me, then I'll tell you what my doctor in the US told me when I told her I didn't want to become addicted. First, she said, you're only an addict if you're taking the drug to get a high, otherwise you're just dependent. Then she told me I can either take the drug to alleviate the pain and get some normal things done on a daily basis or don't take it and live with a pain that will most likely prevent me from leaving my bed and become agitated and irritated with everything and everyone because of my relentless pain. She said there is no shame in become dependent and that when the time came to stop there would be a safe period of weaning the drug and a plan for the withdrawal. I added that most NHS doctors are ambivalent towards things like this and she said, then demand it. I did and I was helped, no NHS doctor ever judged me for being dependent and it does seem like they deal with this often. They are not as organised as in the U.S. where you can get a 'kick pack' which contains valium, supplements and many useful tips but my NHS doctor did prescribe me valium for 4 days which was enough to get over the 'hump' and I researched and procured the other supplements and tips I needed online.

WHY YOU BECOME DEPENDENT: In plain speak, Tramadol does the job of making your body feel good and does it so well that it relieves the overabundant amount of pain your going through because of your medical condition. Once your body realizes it doesn't have to do this job anymore, it will stop, that's when your body has become 'dependent'. When you stop taking the Tramadol and your body hasn't yet taken it's 'job' back, you feel withdrawal symptoms because there is nothing making you feel good. The withdrawal will end once your body takes back it's normal job of releasing the chemicals which make you feel good.

HOW TO OVERCOME THE WITHDRAWAL PERIOD: If you have become dependent Tramadol and you most likely have if you've been taking it for a long time, it's almost always best to consult with your doctor about a withdrawal plan. They can help give you a plan to wean the drug and also be there for when you need muscle relaxers if you need them once you stop the drug. If they are not helpful, see another doctor, rinse and repeat (especially if you're on NHS!).

Even better - What you can do is research all this on the internet but I will include this one link because I felt it was the one who helped me the most when I went through it. Not just the info but the people who commented and gave support. There are many forums that will do the same thing, find one which has active supportive members (and a plan you feel comfortable with) and I promise you will feel better about being able to get feedback from people who have felt what you are going through. Actually I'm going to link the process I used for withdrawal, it's from the same site and you can explore that further if you want or just Google 'opiate withdrawal forum' for support and plans.

http://www.vicodinwithdrawal.org/alternative-medicine/thomas-recipe-opiate-detox

Oh and I should also warn that you will come across a lot of people who don't know what they are talking about, but you should be able to spot them pretty quick,. Just ignore them, find good info and support, that's the best thing to do. smile

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I hope this is more helpful than not. I'm not sure why people come here to complain about a drug. The drug has been well tested and it's not dangerous. However being ill-informed about a drug, how you take it and the possibilities ...well that certainly can be.

Best of wishes to everyone struggling with their conditions, keep looking towards the future! Ronni <3

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  • Mollymops

    Thanks Ronni! Have been taking Tramadol on and off for the past five years and have found it really useful. When first prescribed my GP told me about it and I carefully read the leaflet that came with it. Yes I was a little concerned about the addiction side of things but can honestly in all the time I've been taking it that has never been a problem, even when I've had to a take a lot for a period of time.

    It's nice to have some commen sense written! Obviously I am aware that there are plenty of people about who don't get on with it and haven't been as l lucky as I have, however as pointed out above, if you don't get on with it, go back and try something else.

    Good luck everyone who needs painkillers - of whatever variety, to survive x

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to Mollymops

  • evergreen

    No, tramadol is not evil, because a drug cannot be evil. But I try to warn everyone I can about it. The most I ever took was 150 mg. I thought it was a wonder drug because I have a physically demanding job and it gave me boundless energy as well as taking away most of my back pain. Or to be more accurate, it did not really take away the pain, just made me able to cope with the pain. I only becaome aware that I was addicted the day I was due to go to the specialist about my back and I decided not to take any so that I was more able to describe and pinpoint the pain. On the way to the hospital I began to feel panicky, and my body felt weak and ached all over. I wanted to scream and cry. I felt like I was cracking up. The specialist was so concerned about me that he wrote to my GP suggesting all kinds of tests be carried out. It was only a few days later that I began to put two and two together and realise that it was tramadol withdrawal that made me feel this way.

    It became so bad that one day when I had misplaced my pills I virtually tore the house apart looking for them. I became paranoid that my husband was hiding them from me. When I found them, I downed one straight away and felt 100% better an hour later. It was then that I decided that I didn't care how much they did for my pain, I was going to quit. I managed to get down to two a day (100 mg) quite easily. But stepping down to 50 mg was much harder. But the worst was coming off the last 50mg. They do not make any smaller doses and so I had to open th capsules and empty out half of the powder and then reseal it. I managed to come off the last 25 mg by taking it alternate days and then every 3 days until finally getting 'clean'.

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to evergreen

  • Kitty16

    The above is a horror story you're posting all over the forum - and whilst your story is valid for you, mine is valid for me & if i'd read the above before ever taking tramadol, i'd probably still be incapable of full time work at 23 years old for several months of a year due to my pain levels ... it would have scared me into thinking this happens to everyone & it doesn't!

    I think everyone has to decide completely for themselves about meds.

    Every person is different, physically & mentally - there are no one size fits all rules with this.

    Tramadol has never had any ill effects for me. It does cause constipation which you have to adapt your lifestyle to function with, it can cause dry mouth, decreased appetite and some slight euphoria/anxiety - but for me its about the benefits outweighing the negative side effects.

    I prefer coping with those effects than being in too much pain to work at 23 years old...

    I work in the medical field so am hyper-aware of all the negatives/addictive potential etc and when I queried it with my own GP they told me 'nobody gets addicted to painkillers unless they are using them when they do not need to' - basically if you're taking them when you could be taking simple paracetamol to manage the pain - yes you'll probably become addicted.

    Or if you have a history of addiction then - yes its risky... but a GP should be supervising you & discussing all this with you. Tramadol is not an OTC med therefore noone should take it without being 'risk assessed'.

    I do not find myself addicted, my pain comes & goes ... I have good days & bad, good months & bad even - when the pain is minimal I take nothing, when it get worse i add paracetamol/ibuprofen, then if that doesn't help at all I go onto tramadol too...

    This stuff is not as simple as people make out in these forums, everything we are taking which is a prescription medication should be discussed thoroughly with a qualified medical professional and monitored - we should not take anyone elses word for it about how a drug may affect us - we are all completely different and what works for one, won't for another...

    I find it quite worrying seeing people encouraging or discouraging use of medications online - only your doctor or consultant should be telling you what to try and what to avoud - fair enough share our experiences but nothing should be taken as statement of fact in that respect, just personal experiences!

    If you are in enough pain to warrant a drug such as tramadol, and are very careful with your usage of it then the risk of addiction should be minimal, if you take it when the pain is not that bad then the risk becomes higher... speak to a pharmacist or a GP if you have concerns though as they don't prescribe things to us for no good reason and stopping taking a drug due to horror stories online may in fact make someone's quality of life worse!

    _ 1 vote F Report Share < reply to Kitty16

  • evergreen

    I hear what you are saying, but I am not the only person I know in real life (not just on a forum) who has had a terrible experience with this drug. One person I know has been trying to come off it (unsuccessfully) for four years.

    If anyone is in doubt as to the addictive nature of this drug they only need to google tramadol addiction. Sadly it is rife, and very few UK GPs are aware of just how addictive it is. I spoke to 3 GPs at my practice. Two were surprised, but the third, and the one that I held most respect for because she seemed to be much more clued up in all areas said that it was a terrible drug that she would never prescribe except in very severe cases and only for periods of five days or less.

    Indeed, when my son was prescibed it for his chest operation, he was warned only to take it when absolutely necessary.

    It does sound as though that is how you yourself are using it, and when someone varies, the dose and does not take it every day, then addiction does not occur. When someone takes it every day, at set times and at set doses for mor than a short period of time, this is when addiction occurs. I am warning people about this because I wish someone had warned me.

    _ 1 vote F Report Share < reply to evergreen

  • Kitty16

    I totally see your point, i really do but there are always two sides yuo know?

    I did take maximum prescribable dose daily for about 4 months after a bad car accident 4 1/2 yrs ago, along with max cocodamol & 150mg diclofenac - but of course, my pain was so intense i couldn't move without it, and i would never have attended physio down the line had i not had something to enable mobilisation...

    nowadays i take it less frequently but at times i take quite high doses for months at a time - im very careful to try and take the lowest possible dose, and i always try doing a day with no painkillers at all every few weeks to ensure i am aware of my 'natural' pain levels and don't continue taking it when i don't need to...

    I'm sure a lot of people do have bad experiences with many drugs but we've got to remember we are weird and wonderful creatures - a drug that could kill someone through anaphylactic shock may save another person's life... obviously i don't specifically mean the tramadol here, but the principal i wanted to point out was that really, it's all trial and error to find out what makes life easier for anyone with any medical problems smile

    i hope you're managing to cope with your bad experience better now? x

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to Kitty16

  • evergreen

    Oh it was a long long time ago and I got over it very quickly once I knew what I was dealing with. But it is something that I wouldn't want to repeat. I think you are extremely fortunate to be able to take or leave it TBH. I do think it has its uses. As I say, I thought it was wonderful until that day when I tried not taking it. I work with horses and have to be extremely active and so it helped me get over some severe pain, but I really wish I had read about it on some forums before taking it as I would have done things differently and only taken it in short bursts when the pain was at its worst. My experience is nothing compared to many (just search Tramadol addiction on google, the drugs.com forum has thread after thread about it). I think it is far more dangerous when 'strangers on a forum' paint a rosy picture of a drug that can cause serious addiction to many, than people posting their genuine negative experiences. Unless of course you work for a drug company...

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  • evergreen

    Just a question Kitty16. Do you think people should not be allowed to post anything negative about drugs on these forums? You say that my experience is not valid for you, but yours is not valid for me or some others who have posted 'horror stories' as you like to put it. So what makes your story valid, and another person's not valid?

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  • evergreen

    Exactly. I have no gripes with people posting positive experiences of the drug, and would never dream of critisising anyone for doing it. Therefore I don't expect to be critisised for recounting my negative experience. People should be able to read the posts, good and bad, and make up their own minds whether tramadol is for them. smile

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  • evergreen

    In my experience, it didn't really take away the pain. It just made me feel differently about it and gave me more energy to deal with it. I was first prescribed it when I had a severe tooth abscess and it was the bank holiday and no emergency dentists. It didn't help. Then I was precribed it for my back pain. Again it didn't remove the pain but made me more able to cope with it. Now I prefer to take cocodamol 500/30. Though I am very careful only to take them occasionally, as they can be almost as addictive as tramadol. If I have taken them for a few days in a row and then stop, then I suffer from severe fatigue for the next few days which makes it difficult to do my job.

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  • steve 1

    I must say that I've been a bit worried about becoming addicted so yesterday I thought I'd go without and you are right evergreen, it doen't seem to stop the pain, only the way we percieve it. Had a bit of a stop/ go night but no, I don't think I'm addicted.

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  • morphix

    I agree, Tramadol has been stigmatised to some extent by the media more recently and because of misconceptions which have developed surrounding the drug, GP's are very reluctant to prescribe it, even for its original analgesic use, let alone for any off-label uses.

    It's a pity because it is a very useful drug with a reasonable side effect profile compared to other pain-relief drugs and anti-depressants. I mention anti-depressants because Tramadol is a very effective anti-depressant in my experience, it does act on serotonin and noradrenaline. I believe it also very effective for CFS, ADD and possibly a whole host of other conditions.

    However, there are possible risks and complications from prescribing Tramadol for longer term use (anything more than a few months). For one thing, in my experience it can cause appetite suppression leading to severe weight loss. It can also cause chronic insomnia, even at a fairly low dose of 50mg-100mg once daily.

    If you're taking Tramadol you should take it early in the morning to avoid insomnia due to its long half-life. Getting plenty of exercise helps too. Watch your diet and weight carefully, particularly if you're underweight already or not eating regular meals. Meal support (Complan etc) may be necessary if appetite suppression starts to affect weight in people sick.

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  • steve 1

    Insomnia?, would be a fine thing. At night I take 10 mg. of Amitriptyline and 50 mg. of Tramadol. Logs don't sleep as deeply as me.If I do wake during the night I know that I will go straight back to sleep, no sweat.

    But, and there is always a but, at the beginning of this week I decided to knock the Tramadol off for a while. An action that soon resulted in extreme pain and not such peaceful nights. Whether the disturbed sleep was caused by the pain or lack of Tramadol I don't know and to be honest, I don't feel up to finding out yet. My conclusion is that (so far) that Tramadol is wonderful for pain management but it may well cause some form of dependency. No appetite loss, in fact I've gained weight Could be water retention, I don't seem to urinate as frequently as I used to..

    Discomfort of dependence? A choice that I will have to think long about.

    When I type in Amitriptyline it is underlined as a spelling error and the alternative spelling given is pantyliner. Makes one wonder about the minds of programmers.

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to steve 1

  • Amimarsh

    I have been taking Tramadol for severe back pain for several years. I was given it because I got an ulcer afterr taking anti inflammatories. For about 8 years, it has been fine, except that lately I couldn't sleep through the night, as the effects wore off about 3 a..m. Now I am taking slow release Tramadol which works fine. After some facet joint injections about 4 months ago, I had no pain for a few weeks so I stopped all painkillers and had NO withdrawal trouble. However, then the effectof the injections expired, as I had been warned it would.

    So I started the Tramadol again and this time, after about six weeks, I am experiencing some nausea. I find that it goes away after a while, but it is unpleasant. So I suppose I must accept this:it is far less a problem than the severe pain.

    I seem to be able to stop Tramadol as I wish, so I find it hard to believe it can be addictive.

    I am seeing my neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks, so I shall ask his advice. I am a believer in going to

    Thw professinals to get answers, really.

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to Amimarsh

  • megzie

    I have been on tramadol 400mg a day on of for five years now and I came of it for a year and I never experienced any withdrawal symptoms. I came of it slowly when my back was better for a while and I didn't decided to start coming of it until I felt I was 100% ready to lower start lowering the dose and stop taking it. Coming of tramadol doesn't give you any physical withdrawal symptoms it's only stronger drugs like morphine that do. People can however experience "mental withdrawals" where they are so used to the feeling it gives especialy if they have been on them long term . If you are sweating and in pain and having sleepless nights from decideding to come of tramadol then parhaps you still have" pain problems" that where masked by taking the tramadol and are not quite ready to stop taking it,or you are sufering from mental withdrawals due to depression which everyone knows causes pain . I despise horror stories about a drug which is very helpful and not physicaly adictive. If it was it would say in the instruction leaflet and Doctors would warn patients of the withdrawals.

    _ 0 votes F Report Share < reply to megzie

  • peglegs

    I have been taking tramadol now for a couple of years, I find I can start and stop as needed even though I am taking a high dose (300mg slow release at night, 200mg slow release in a morning and top up of 100mg in afternoon). The only side effect I have is weight gain! Its not alot of weight but my appetite is virtually non existent but i have gained half a stone. my doctor believes the weight gain is from the amitriptelene that i take at night and so I have stopped taking them for a while but as yet have not lost any weight at all. i dont think tramadol is an evil drug it helps those who are at the wits end with pain, I do think there is alot of truth in the fact you should only take it as needed and not take it for the sake of taking it as with any strong painkillers. Everyone has different experiences with all drugs there is no one rule, trial and error are the only way.

    _ 1 vote F Report Share < reply to peglegs

  • morphix

    Interesting discussion guys and girls...quite a different range of views and experiences on this drug it seems..

    I think, as someone said, everyone can react differently and each persons situation can be unique..

    Whilst there is no doubt of the potential for "dependency issues" with prolonged and higher dosage usage, some people do not experience any problems coming off it and don't even need to taper off, while others have a very difficult time it seems, going by the forums and posts related to it. If you've been on Tramadol for a long time (i.e. many years, at a daily higher dosage) it makes sense to taper down off it, and unfortunately many GP's aren't fully aware of that and don't advise patients how to taper down gradually.

    One thing I would repeat is, Tramadol is not just a simple painkiller drug. It has 3 distinct actions on very different pathways of the brain. These, and the drugs method of actions are not fully understood even. My theory is, that Tramadol acts like an anti-depressant in more ways than it does a painkiller, and this is perhaps where the dependency issues may arise. Tramadol has weak and relative low opiate-painkilling properties. If you look on a opiate scale of drugs, Tramadol is very low down the bottom. Codeine is much higher for example, and we know that physical addiction to Codeine can be a real problem in some people.

    From my own personal experience, I have found that Tramadol alters significantly how the brain and body functions..you have more energy, you feel more alert, your brain and cognitive ability seems to speed up. Physical activity becomes easier, and if you suffer from lethargy and low energy, those problems just vanishe on Tramadol.Life just seems a lot better on Tramadol and you feel more functional, if you have poor health.

    Now that said, it's easy to see how you can come to rely on Tramadol and hence I say "dependency" can arise, i.e. not a full-blown addiction with physical withdrawals, but just a need to take Tramadol to feel function, much like people take caffeine. I've never experienced any of the classic opiate physical withdrawal symptoms of the type described with Tramadol by some people. However I've only taken 50mg once daily max, and only 100-150mg for short periods of intense pain (no more than a week).

    When I stop taking my 50mg daily dose, I feel lethargic and all the problems I had BEFORE I started Tramadol, return..low mood, low motivation, inability to concentrate etc. This is why I emphasise again, that Tramadol IMO is an effective treatment for other conditions possibly.. whether that be depression or something else.

    The only reason I stopped taking Tramadol myself was due to the worrying weight loss...I went from being 10 stone (already thin and underweight a bit at 5'11) down to about 8 stone.. that's a 20% loss of body weight...and any more could have been serious my Dr said. I ended up having to take meal replacement drinks to keep my calories/nutrition up and have put on a stone in weight now.

    On Tramadol, I just have no appetite at all hardly, I could skip meals and not feel hungry and still have boundless energy. It seems to speed up my metabolism so the body burns up calories from body fat. Maybe it could be marketed as a weight loss pill, unless this side effect is just more pronounced in people like me!

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  • megzie

    Very interesting theory morphix and you are almost certianly correct. Tramaol increases seritone levels which we all know are reduced when people have depression which is why antidepressants up seritone levels. It is low down on the opiod scale is tramadol is not technichaly a opiod as its chemical make up is designed to mimick opiods rather like oxycontin but nowhere near is powerful. But yes codine can be adictive and peo[ple who get adictied to it need to be weened of it and need to see a drug worker.I know what you mean about the weight loss to I offten do not eat lunch and just a dinner and some toast for breakfast. I also know what you mean about the energy I don't have any when I'm waiting for my tramadol to kick in and my other medication(for nerve pain and muscle spasms) starts working before the tramadol and then when the tramadol kicks in I feel alert , happier and have energy. I also think that I feel happy and hav energy because of the pain relief it gives as I'm ever so tense and unhappy from the pain when I'm due a dose.

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