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Is Tapentadol Addictive?

Tapentadol is an opioid analgesic (narcotic) that’s sold under the brand names Nucynta ER and Nucynta. As part of the opioid drug class, tapentadol is normally prescribed to patients with moderate to severe acute pain (pain that occurs suddenly, has a specific cause, and is expected to go away when the source of the pain is recovered.) As with other narcotics, tapentadol comes with many risks, one of them being physical dependence. As a result, many who take it or have thought about taking it wonder whether tapentadol is addictive.  

How Does Tapentadol Work? 

Tapentadol is usually prescribed to treat severe pain in cases when other opioids were unsuccessful or when they weren’t tolerated. Tapentadol is usually not doctors’ first choice for treating pain.  It’s most common for treating short-term moderate to severe pain, such as after surgery. Like other opioids, tapentadol works by attaching to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and other areas of the body to block pain signaling from the body to the brain.   At the same time, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to improved mood, pleasure, and reward. As a result, the individual’s pain and discomfort are relieved.   However, no medication is without its side effects. Possible side effects of tapentadol include: 
  • Anxiety 
  • Confusion 
  • Constipation 
  • Dizziness 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Intense muscle aches 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Painful urination 
  • Rash or itching 
  • Shaking of the hands 
  • Trouble breathing 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
Tapentadol can be taken orally with or without a meal, although taking it with a meal can help to prevent nausea. Usual doses of tapentadol in adults start at 50 milligrams (mg) two times a day, which may be adjusted according to the individual’s symptoms and health.  If you experience any of these side effects, speak to your doctor right away about changing your dosage or possibly switching medications. Do not stop using this medication unless directed to do so by your doctor. 

Can You Become Addicted to Tapentadol? 

Many medications come with the risk of abuse and addiction, including tapentadol. Tapentadol is addictive, especially when the drug is used in a way that’s not directed by a doctor or when it’s used without a prescription.   Your chances of developing an addiction to Nucynta increase if you take the drug with other medications or alcohol, as well. It’s also possible for people who follow their prescription correctly and take the drug for a certain period to develop a tolerance to and dependence on tapentadol.  Tolerance of tapentadol tends to open the floodgates to drug use. When a person becomes tolerant of a drug, they require higher doses of it to experience the same effects.   For this reason, tapentadol is only meant for short-term treatment of pain. Additionally, if a person uses opioids like tapentadol for long periods, they’re likely to become physically dependent on them. Physical dependence is marked by withdrawals, which occur when the individual suddenly stops using the drug. Opioid withdrawals are severe enough to cause extreme pain and discomfort, so much so that many tapentadol abusers choose to continue using the drug to avoid symptoms.   Long-term misuse eventually leads to a substance use disorder, which is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to use tapentadol. At this point, the individual may begin to show signs of tapentadol (Nucynta) abuse.  

Signs of Tapentadol Addiction 

Withdrawal symptoms, as well as other physical and behavioral signs, may indicate the misuse of tapentadol. Common signs of tapentadol abuse to look out for include:  
  • Stomach pain 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Confusion 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Seizures 
  • Fainting 
  • Slowed breathing 
  • Severe drowsiness 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Lack of coordination and balance  
Drug addiction can also impact a person’s behavior, so people with tapentadol addiction may show signs like:  
  • Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, and/or home 
  • Stealing money from loved ones to buy drugs 
  • Stealing prescriptions from loved ones 
  • Asking others for their prescriptions 
  • Going from doctor to doctor for more prescriptions (doctor shopping) 
  • Lying to loved ones about their drug use or secretive behavior 
  • Spending time with people who use drugs  
  • Drug paraphernalia in their room or home, such as numerous empty pill bottles  
Overdose is also a possible risk of Nucynta ER abuse. Tapentadol also acts as a depressant on the central nervous system, meaning it reduces nerve activity and inhibits functions like breathing.   As a result, the most common and deadly symptom of tapentadol overdose is respiratory depression. Respiratory depression refers to slow, shallow, and ineffective breathing, preventing the individual from getting enough oxygen to their brain and organs.   If you recognize the signs of tapentadol overdose, call 9-1-1 immediately, as this reaction can be fatal.  

Treatment for Tapentadol Abuse 

Tapentadol is addictive and can therefore lead to a long and tragic life of drug use, but there’s hope. If you or someone you care about is addicted to opioids like tapentadol, our Christian drug rehabilitation center offers the services you need to get sober.   Our Christian residential drug rehab incorporates medically assisted detox as well as therapy to address both the physical and psychological impact of drug use. With the help of our specialists, clients can be safely weaned off tapentadol.   After detox, clients can then move onto the therapy portion of our program, during which they work with therapists and interact with others in individual and group counseling sessions to learn how to navigate a sober lifestyle after rehab.   For more information about our Christian-based recovery programs, call Faith in Recovery today at 888-280-4763   

Related Reading: 
Adverse Effects of Oxycodone