Ultram, although not a narcotic, is very addictive, and the withdrawal sure felt a lot to me like any other opiate withdrawal. I would recommend anyone thinking about taking this drug to do some internet research, and get informed about the real risks associated with Ultram.
Ultram, also sold as Tramadol, and when mixed with acetaminophen, as Ultracet, is a touted "non addictive" non narcotic painkiller, that is currently unrestricted, and easily bought over the internet. Although my doctor assured me that this medication was not habit forming, I never the less managed to develop a serious addiction to the stuff, and the withdrawal from Ultram sure felt just as real as withdrawal from Vicodin.
Ultram is not technically a narcotic, but it is a Mu opioid antagonist, and does elicit much of the same pleasurable high as a traditional opiate; and as a result is very addictive when taken at more than the recommended dosage. Although the medical community still does not recognize this medication as addictive, a quick internet search reveals huge communities of people exchanging messages of hope, and stories of severe addictions to this theoretically non addictive substance, with many people saying that this drug seems to be even more addictive than many of the traditional opiate type drugs, and the withdrawal pains are just as bad if not worse, and the withdrawal longer.
Unfortunately, the medical community seems to be reluctant to acknowledge the abuse potential of this medication, and as such this drug can still be easily purchased through any online pharmacy without the need for a prescription, and most doctors will prescribe the medication without nearly the thought they would give to a prescription for any of the scheduled drugs. I didn’t even realize how hopelessly addicted I was to this medication until I tried to stop. I had been taking the pills in response to a work injury that left me with severe but not unmanageable back pain, and I was taking 8-50 mg Ultram daily, which is still within the daily range of acceptable dosages.
The Seduction of Tramadol Abuse
Unfortunately, I was not taking the drug only for pain control, and truth be told I never found that it worked all that well for that, but I loved the feeling of wellbeing this drug gave me. Not high exactly, but they just put me in a really great mood, improved my concentration, and perversely, even gave me tons of energy. I really loved the way these pills made me feel, and as a result, took more than I strictly needed, just to enjoy the great feelings the pills gave me; 2 in the morning, one a few hours later, and then a whack of five in the early evening, to really enjoy myself at the end of the day.
I was planning a long trip abroad, and I was worried about the sheer numbers of pills I would need to be taking through international customs, and so I decided I should probably try to stop. I came down with a bad cold, and I had run out of pills, and as such I figured it was as good a time as any to get off of the drug. A few hours later I was shaking, I had incredibly intense leg jumpiness (which is a lot more unpleasant than it sounds), I hurt everywhere, I felt nauseous, and I had sweats and cold flashes. In short, I was in agony. Realizing just how addicted I was, I jumped in the car, and started looking for overnight pharmacies…alas I had left it too late, and was forced to wait until 8 in the morning before finally finding some early rising pharmacist cracking the door, and I was inside in seconds getting a refill on my prescription.
I had the pills in my mouth before getting back to my car, and by the time I got home, I was already feeling much better. I know how desperate I must have looked, and I just didn’t care…I needed those pills very badly. So this was a bit of a wake up call to me. I figured I had become dependent, but the scale of my addiction and the intensity of the withdrawal shocked and scared me. I later learned that what I had tried to do was in fact dangerous, and to try to go cold turkey off of Ultram greatly increases the risks of seizures.
I spoke with my doctor about my experience, and although he conceded that the drug could be "habit forming" he seemed very skeptical about my experienced reaction. He recommended tapering down by a pill a week, and that’s what I did, although after reading a lot on the internet, I actually reduced my dosage even slower than that. It ended up taking me a number of months to really get clean, and get off of these pills. The thing about Ultram that makes them so seductive, at least to me, is that I always felt completely functional while taking the pills; I just felt great, and I could go all day, and enjoy whatever mundane tasks I was assigned. Hanging the laundry was as enjoyable as watching a movie and I had the energy to keep going and keep bopping around all day long. I woke up each morning feeling pretty lethargic, but a couple of pills and a coffee, and a half an hour later I was ready to face the world.
Of course I seemed to pay a price for this when I ultimately tried to get clean off of the pills, and the depression and anxiety I felt during this period was significant, and certainly made me regret my period of artificial happiness. My advice to anyone considering the drug is to think very carefully about the risks involved, and don’t listen solely to assurances within the medical community of the safety and low abuse potential. Do a bit of internet research, and take a look at the thousands of personal shared experiences that tell a very different story. If you do take it, make sure you don’t exceed the recommended dosage, and make sure you take the occasional day off from the meds; probably at least one complete drug free day a week.
These pills are a lot of fun, but getting off of them is truly agony. Be very careful with "non addictive" Ultram.