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Ultracet is classified as a controlled substance; thus, an addiction to Ultracet (tramadol/acetaminophen) is highly possible. Healthcare providers who prescribe the pain reliever will usually watch for signs of addiction, such as "doctor shopping" or going through prescriptions too quickly. Other possible signs include secluded behavior, unexplained changes in mood or behaviors, and an unexplainable lack of money.

Ultracet Addiction: An Overview

Ultracet® (tramadol/acetaminophen) is a prescription pain medication. Ultracet is classified as a controlled substance in the United States, and has significant potential for abuse. However, signs of an Ultracet addiction may be difficult to distinguish from other problems, such as inadequate pain control or mental illness.

Why Wasn't Ultracet a Controlled Substance Before?

In the United States, medications and substances with significant abuse potential are classified as controlled substances and are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Initial studies showed that Ultracet had a very low potential to be abused, which is why it was not a controlled substance in the United States initially. However, practical experience with Ultracet has revealed that Ultracet appears to have a very real potential for abuse. In July 2014, Ultracet (along with all other tramadol-containing medications) was reclassified as a controlled substance. 

Common Signs of an Addiction to Ultracet

Most healthcare providers who prescribe or dispense Ultracet watch for certain signs of addiction, such as:
  • "Doctor shopping," which is seeing several different healthcare providers to obtain Ultracet prescriptions or switching from one provider to another
  • Going through an Ultracet prescription too quickly
  • Repeated reports of losing a prescription, having a prescription stolen, or needing a prescription early to go on vacation
  • Having a specific "favorite" narcotic drug (such as Ultracet), and nothing else will do (or reporting "allergies" to all other alternatives).
Friends and family can also keep an eye out for other signs of an Ultracet addiction, such as:
  • Secluded behavior, often needing to spend large amounts of time alone
  • Stealing, lying, or other dishonest behavior
  • An unexplainable lack of money
  • Changes in social circles, such as abandoning good friends and replacing them with new ones
  • Unexplained changes in mood or behaviors.
There are also physical symptoms when someone becomes addicted to Ultracet, but these are nearly impossible to distinguish from the normal symptoms of simple Ultracet dependence, which will occur with all cases of long-term Ultracet use, including legitimate, non-abusive Ultracet use. It should be noted that Ultracet is approved for short-term use only (five days or fewer). It is not approved for chronic use.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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