Common painkiller now considered more addictive

Study: More than 3 million adults have used Tramadol for non-medical reasons.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has now moved the commonly prescribed pain medication, Tramadol, to a schedule IV of the Controlled Substance Act. That’s out of the five-tier system, with a schedule one drug considered the riskiest for its addictive qualities.

Gary Kerr, Chief Pharmacist for Baystate Health told 22News that federal drug administrators usually make changes like this one as measures of public safety. In this case, they found that Tramadol now has more connections to physical dependency problems then when it first hit the market.

“So in 1995 when Ultram was launched, this drug was an alternative to some of the more potent opiates,” Kerr said.

Tramadol, which goes by the trade name Ultram or Ultracet, has also required labeling changes since it came into use, as side effects like seizures were later realized.

Springfield resident Barbara Rivera told 22News that she’s concerned about the rise in prescription drug abuse. “There’s too much use of narcotic drugs and people that are using them that don’t need them,” Rivera said.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that more than 3 million adults and teens in the U.S. admit to having used Tramadol for non-medical purposes at least once.

According to the website for the Coalition against Drug Abuse, some symptoms of Tramadol addiction include:

• Substance use resulting in a recurrent failure to fulfill work, school or home obligations
• Substance use in physically hazardous situations such as driving or operating machinery
• Substance use resulting in legal problems such as drug-related arrests

If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction health experts advise you ask your doctor for help, or reach out to one of the following organizations:

Baystate Medical Center’s addiction services: 1-(888)-289-6486
West Springfield Addiction Rehab Specialists: 1-(800)-943-0566
Family Care Medical Center, Springfield: (413)-783-9114
Serenity Club of Springfield: (413)-736-9512
Or find help at

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