Tramadol is a prescription narcotic used to treat mild to severe pain by altering the way the brain and nervous system respond to stimuli. Tramadol is a useful medication for many adults, but it’s becoming increasingly popular in the streets and among teens who take this prescription painkiller to feel high. Unfortunately, these drugs are addictive and can—and do—lead teens to other addictions.
Popularity and History
Prescription drugs are becoming increasingly popular among high school kids and teens who are looking to get a high. Tramadol really exploded in popularity around 2008, and became a “drug of concern” for the Drug Enforcement Administration after teen overdose cases made headlines. A study revealed that as of 2007, 7.8% of 12 to 17-year-olds and 13% of 18 to 25-year-olds used prescription painkillers recreationally. Authorities have since realized how easily accessible (free from your parents’ medicine cabinets) the prescription drug is and are taking steps to combat it.
Misuse and Addiction
Like many other prescription pills, tramadol is often misused by people who haven’t received the prescription themselves—in other words, people who use tramadol recreationally or who are getting hooked on it are stealing the prescriptions. There have been cases in which nurses have stolen drugs from patients or hospitals. Some kids have also become addicted to the drug after being given it by their parents for minor pain, but without a prescription. Alternatively, once the prescriptions are stolen, they are often sold on the street for a profit.
There are mild negative side effects to tramadol, such as dizziness, weakness, anxiety or nervousness, changes in mood, digestive issues, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. Some more extreme, life-threatening causes of the drug include seizures, swelling, trouble swallowing, hives, agitation, loss of consciousness, loss of coordination and rapid heart beat.
It’s possible to overdose on tramadol because it’s an opioid drug. Signs of an overdose look different than a side effect and can include difficulty breathing, decreased pupil size, extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness, coma, slowed heartbeat, weak muscles and clammy or cold skin.
If you have Tramadol or any other major sedative and/or opioid in your house, make sure it is kept in a safe spot where the kids can’t get at it, even the teenagers. Always follow the dosage directions given by your doctor or pharmacist, and don’t give drug to anyone who it is not prescribed to.
Feature Image: frankieleon