Citation: Bailey. "God Gave Me the Strength: An Experience with Tramadol & Escitalopram (Lexapro) (ID 31562)". Erowid.org. Jun 16, 2007. erowid.org/exp/31562
I was first put on Tramadol after an auto accident on Nov 11, 2003 which left me with severe back and neck pain. I had not pursued opiates (Vicodin, Hydrocodone, etc.) because I have had a history of abuse with these medications. I felt that Tramadol was so much safer, as it didn't have the acetaminophen and that it was virtually non-addictive (so they say). I was first prescribed Tramadol from my neurosurgeon. I have had a back condition for many years and had actually used this doctor for non-surgical alternatives (nerve root injections, different meds, etc.), but this was the first time I used Tramadol. He didn't hesitate to give it to me (with refills), whereas he did not want to give me other opiates.
I started on a normal dose of 50mg, 2x a day in November, 2003 and actually worked my way up to a WHOPPING 400mg+ (16+ pills) each and every day. I built up a tolerance to this drug rapidly, and it took an increasingly higher dosage to get the same pain-fighting effects as it had the first time I tried it (I upped the dosage about 25mg a week- 100mg a month).
When I took Tramadol in the beginning, I got very excited and felt euphoria, very similar to hydrocodone (without nodding off to sleep or with the embarrassing slurred speech). So, I began to think that this was a wonder drug for me- it gave me euphoria, no one would sense that I was on something (as the side effect profile is minimal compared to other Opiates), and I wouldn't get 'HOOKED' on it (like I have done with other Opiates so many times before). Instead of making me lethargic with slurred speech, Tramadol tends to make me hyper and more coherent (very similar to caffeine)- especially in combination with an SSRI (in my case Lexapro). I found out the hard way that these 2 drugs have a nasty interaction in February, 2004.
I had always taken 20mg of Lexapro, but my Tramadol dosage had increased over 4 months to a level that was twice the daily limit or more. This one night, though, I had a very bad trip. I did not vomit, but felt very strange- as if I were outside my body and as if my body were numb. It was almost like the feeling that I get from nitrous oxide (laughing gas), but it wasn't fun at all. I figured that it would go away, but I was terrified to go to sleep. I had read that high doses of Tramadol can put someone into a coma, then respiratory arrest. This was enough to scare the living shit out of me and I stayed up for 2 days and nights straight. I figured that if I was able to stay awake, them I would be ok.
I decided that I needed to do stop Tramadol as soon as possible, or I would likely die from my abuse of this medication. I have too much to live for (newly engaged, brand new house, good job, great family & friends, etc.) to waste it away like this. I thought about those things more than I had before during those 2 sleepless days.
There were days that I took 1000mg of Tramadol (20 pills) along with 6+ cans of Coke- talk about a buzz (not a happy one either).
One other reason that I stayed on Tramadol so long (especially at dangerously high doses) was not just because I had an addiction to it. What it also did do, in fact, was free me from my depression(much better than Lexapro or any other antidepressant ever did- I have taken around 10 different ones for chronic depression/anxiety). With Tramadol, I really did feel like myself of 10 years ago (before I started having severe anxiety and panic attacks that led to a decade of alcohol and drug abuse, when I was back in undergraduate school- I was VERY HAPPY then). Logically, I figured (and I convinced my psychiatrist) that a low dose of Tramadol with Lexapro actually had a synergistic effect and was better on mood than Lexapro by itself.
However, I was not able to sustain a low dose of Tramadol. It got dangerously high, and I became terrified instead of happy. So, how did I manage to maintain this dosage of Tramadol legally? I actually saw separate doctors for separate body parts injured in the accident (a neurosurgeon, a orthopedist, and my PCP) and received Tramadol prescriptions from each one. I then got the prescriptions at different pharmacies and only sent the one from my PCP into the insurance company (he gave me the highest doses and most refills).
I actually became a person that I despised because of this drug. It almost ruined my life. Fortunately, I have a saint of a fiancÚ who stood beside me (even after I confessed four months after it all began) instead of leaving. My family was also very supportive. People at work still don't have a clue, and I want to keep it that way. I thank God every day for giving me the strength to conquer this addiction.
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