Tramadol a Less Risky Painkiller? ER Visits Say Otherwise
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Tramadol a Less Risky Painkiller? ER Visits Say Otherwise


There aren’t a lot of guarantees in life but you can always count on some sort of painkiller backlash in the news. Always. The latest culprit is Tramadol, a post-surgical and/or arthritis-soothing painkiller that’s sending users to emergency rooms in alarming numbers.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), ER visits due to adverse reactions to Tramadol rose 145 percent between 2005 and 2011, while visits because of abuse or misuse rose 250 percent during the same period. The drug has proven especially dangerous to people over the age of 55. Among this age group, ER visits due to Tramadol abuse or misuse increased from 900 in 2005 to over 5,000 six years later.

Dangerous to Seniors?

Originally approved by the FDA in 2005 as a less potent alternative to other narcotic prescription painkillers, authorities started to question the validity of the claim that Tramadol is less addictive when the number of prescriptions for it reached 45 million in 2014. Since August 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration has classified Tramadol as as a Schedule IV controlled substance, putting it in the same boat as benzodiazepenes such as Xanax and Valium.

The main issue is how Tramadol reacts with other medications, particularly those that are heavily prescribed to the older population such as antidepressants. So if you’re in your 60s, your arthritis is acting up and you’re experiencing severe mental anguish, do not mix Prozac with Tramadol. Also, don’t take medical advice from me, as a general rule.

Collateral Damage

What’s particularly disturbing is the collateral damage that prescription painkillers continue to cause. As we’ve reported, those who suffer an overdose often aren’t heroin addicts shopping for prescriptions to get a fix but just general chronic pain sufferers who sought the help of a doctor.

I assume we’ll reach a breaking point as a society on this issue. People will ultimately be forced to seek more holistic alternatives to painkillers and health care will begin with lifestyle, not the prescription pad. Obviously, chronic pain can result from a myriad of causes unrelated to unhealthy lifestyle habits but we really can’t justify continuing to make poor choices about how to treat it. Figuring out how to tackle our issues from every possible angle before resorting to chemicals is truly the most beneficial approach.

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome has written for After Party Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL, WE TV and Mashed. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos, and festivals for over a decade.