Tramadol Increases the Risk of Prolonged Opioid Use
“We found that people who got tramadol were just as likely as people who got hydrocodone or oxycodone to continue using opioids past the point where their surgery pain would have been expected to be resolved. This doesn’t tie to the idea that tramadol is less habit forming than other opioids.”
-Dr. Molly Jeffery, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Research, Mayo Clinic Division of Emergency Medicine
Because it is only one-tenth strength of morphine, tramadol is considered a safer alternative to other, more powerful opioid painkillers. Because of this perception, tramadol (Ultram, ConZip) is the third-most prescribed opioid, after hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin). Even the Drug Enforcement Administration only classifies tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance, considering it to have a lower potential for abuse and addiction.
But tramadol is still an opioid, and this means that its use still carries with it several inherent risks. And according to a brand-new study, surgical patients who are prescribed tramadol have a higher risk of prolonged usage than other opioids.
After looking at nine-and-a-half years of records involving 444,764 patients who had underwent any of 20 common surgical procedures , doctors and researchers with the Mayo Clinic found that over 80%of those patients filled a prescription for an opioid painkiller after surgery.
- “Additional use”: 7%received at least one refill 3 to 6 months after surgery
- “Persistent use”: 1%refilled a prescription 6 to 9 months after surgery
- “Long-term use”: 5%had either 10 or more refills or a supply of 120 or more days.
In each category of use, patients were more likely to have been given a tramadol prescription.
Dr. Cornelius Thiels, D.O., the study’s lead author and a general surgery resident in the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, said, “This data will force us to reevaluate our postsurgical prescribing guidelines. And while tramadol may still be an acceptable option for some patients, our data suggests we should be as cautious with tramadol as we are with other short-acting opioids…Given that tramadol is not as tightly regulated as other short-acting opioids, these findings warrant attention.”
What Does This Mean for San Diego Residents?
This study is dovetails with earlier research showing how unsafe tramadol and other “safe” opioids really are. This means that ANYONE who takes ANY painkiller is at risk of dependence, abuse, and addiction.
If a legitimate opioid prescription has turned into a compulsive problem for you or someone you care about, Lasting Recovery is the trusted resource you need. As one of the top drug rehab programs in San Diego, Lasting Recovery can help you regain your sobriety and manage your pain without addicting drugs.
To get immediate help, contact Lasting Recovery TODAY.