Is Tramadol a controlled drug?

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is an opioid. Opioids are medications that treat symptoms of pain. Opioids work by turning on areas known as opioid receptors, which alters the way the body senses pain. In addition to this, Tramadol can also raise the levels of some chemicals in the body. For instance, the chemicals slightly increased is the hormone known as norepinephrine as well as the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. 

Although Tramadol is weaker than other opioid medications, it is still quite effective at treating pain. However, it also has addictive properties like other opioid medications. It can also be addictive, like other opioids. 

Other opioid medications that work similarly to Tramadol are:

  • Oxycodone (Roxicodone, OxyContin)
  • Oxycodone or acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet)
  • Hydrocodone or acetaminophen
  • Morphine (MS Contin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxymorphone
  • Methadone (Methadose)
  • Meperidine

Is Tramadol a Controlled Drug?

Since all opioids are controlled substances, Tramadol is a controlled substance, too. A controlled drug refers to medications that have the ability to cause physical and mental dependence. In addition to this, controlled substances are further categorised into five categories – also known as schedules. According to these categories, Tramadol comes under schedule IV (schedule 4) medication. 

What is a schedule IV medication?

As mentioned, controlled substance schedules tend to range from schedule I to schedule V (schedule 1 to 5). Simply put, the substances are classified in a manner that explicitly states how likely they are to cause dependence or abuse. Due to this, each schedule consists of different restrictions that apply to all medications in that particular class. 

Since Tramadol is a Schedule IV controlled substance, it has a lower potential to cause dependence and addiction in comparison to schedule I, II, and III controlled substances. However, as compared to schedule V, Tramadol presents with greater risk. Some other schedule IV substances include medications like alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan).

Are there any Restrictions on Prescriptions for Tramadol? 

Associated with schedule IV controlled substances like Tramadol are certain restrictions. For instance, prescriptions for Tramadol are valid for about 6 months only. This timestamp is very short as the prescriptions for non-controlled medications are typically valid for up to 1 year in most cases.

In addition to this, more than five refills with each prescription of Tramadol are strictly prohibited. Furthermore, a valid prescription is not allowed to be transferred between pharmacies more than once. 

Common side effects

Controlled drugs like Tramadol have various side effects. Since it is an opioid, it is intended for short-term use only. The prolonged use of Tramadol can lead to dependence and a greater risk of misuse. Due to such effects, it can even result in withdrawal symptoms when the use of the drug abruptly stops. Side effects may include:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Feeling extremely sleepy, exhausted or fatigued
  • Experiencing symptoms of vertigo, such as loss of coordination
  • Feeling spaced out
  • Sudden feelings of sickness, such as nausea or vomiting 
  • Constipation or an upset stomach
  • Dry mouth or sudden awareness that your mouth is dry
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Low energy levels

These side effects are bound to subside within a few days or weeks. However, if they do not go away, stop taking the medication and consult your primary healthcare provider.