Is Tramadol a narcotic?

Yes and No. The DEA and FDA don’t think that Tramadol’s potential for abuse is high enough to make it a narcotic. But its qualities are narcotic-like. Should Tramadol become an official narcotic? We discuss here.

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Is Tramadol a Narcotic?

Yes and No. No, Tramadol is not officially classed as a federal narcotic by either the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The original classifications created by Controlled Substances Act of 1970 are now monitored and changed by the DEA and the FDA, but neither recognizes Tramadol as a narcotic. Instead, Tramadol is in a class of medications called opiate agonists. However, Tramadol is classified as a narcotic in some states such as Virginia and Kentucky.

Should Tramadol classification change?

Given the addictive nature of all opioid drugs, it might make sense to class Tramadol as a narcotic. In a legal sense, most opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes are already considered narcotics. Furthermore, Tramadol can be addictive and is prone abuse and misuse. One argument that manufacturers of Tramadol is is that the medicine is rarely addictive in people who genuinely need them to control pain, and is slow acting.

But given the efficacy of Tramadol, its physical dependence and necessary withdrawal when you stop taking it, I believe that this drug should be classified a narcotic, in order to create legal consequences for those who are taking Tramadol for non-medical reasons. Here is a list of why I believe this:

PROS – Why Tramadol should be a narcotic

* technically a narcotic b/c it binds at opiate receptors in the brain
* high potential for non medical abuse
* current high rates of misuse
* easy to obtain, sell or distribute

CONS – Why Tramadol should not be a narcotic

* legitimate medical use of Tramadol may be affected


What do you think? Should Tramadol remain unclassified? Or should it become a narcotic?  Your comments, experience and opinions are welcomed and will be posted here.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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