Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction

Tramadol Withdrawal: The Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment for Withdrawal From Tramadol

What is Tramadol Withdrawal Really Like?

Tramadol withdrawal is part of recovery from tramadol abuse. Here's what to expect. With professional help, opioid withdrawal is far easier.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Opioid Addiction

October 5, 2023

Opioid addiction is at an all-time high, along with fatal overdoses.

In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than one million Americans died from a drug overdose since 1999. In 2021, 75% of drug overdose deaths in the US involved an opioid drug like tramadol.

Tramadol, also known by its brand name Ultram, is a widely prescribed pain reliever. It's classified as an opioid because it acts on the same receptors in the brain as other opioids like morphine and oxycodone. But unlike more potent opioids, tramadol is considered a "safer" alternative for treating moderate to severe pain.

However, with prolonged use, tramadol can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when discontinued. Let's take a closer look at the symptoms, timeline, and treatment for tramadol withdrawal.

Tramadol Withdrawal: What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a pain medication that belongs to the opioid drug class. It was first patented in 1963 and was then launched in 1967 with the name Tramal in West Germany. Tramadol took time to reach our boundaries and was finally approved for the United States markets in the 1990s.

Now, it's a famous generic medication worldwide with different brand names. It is ranked 37 as our country's most commonly prescribed medication. It has more than 17 million prescriptions and is a widely used drug. Some common brand names for Tramadol are Ultram, Ryzolt, ConZip, and Ultram ER (Extended Release). 

Tramadol Withdrawal: What Forms Does Tramadol Come In?

Tramadol is available in three forms, capsules, long-acting or extended-release tablets, and an oral solution. Since it is given to treat chronic pain conditions, the strengths available are 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, 200mg, and 300mg tablets.

Continuous and frequent drug abuse of tramadol can easily lead to dependency since it's a narcotic substance. tramadol is known by several street names like chill pills, tammies, and ultras. It is dangerous to consume tramadol in higher amounts as it can lead to building up tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and eventually overdose. 

It is interesting that even though tramadol is not as strong and addictive as some other prescription opioids like codeine, methadone, and heroin, it can still be hazardous to abuse it

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Tramadol Withdrawal: Is Tramadol Illegal?

Tramadol is a controlled substance. It is categorized as a Schedule IV drug of the Controlled Substances Act by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Schedule IV drugs generally have less potential for abuse, but it's not impossible.

Initially, tramadol was not listed as a controlled substance. It was a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved substance in 1995. But things changed in 2014 as the governmental bodies recognized its abuse potential. 

Tramadol Withdrawal: What Is Tramadol Used For?

Tramadol is a prescription synthetic opioid used in managing pain. It belongs to the same family as other drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Despite this, tramadol works unusually and uniquely compared to other prescription opioids.

Tramadol changes the way our body responds to pain. This happens in part because it alters the interaction between our body and the opioid receptors. The opioid receptors are activated, which in turn increases the dopamine activity. This is the reason behind the repeated use of tramadol.

So, it is imperative to keep a check on the tramadol dosage intake.  

What makes tramadol unique is it also acts like a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It stops the body from reabsorbing the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, which also alters pain perception.

Also, like other opioids, tramadol is very dangerous when combined with alcohol.

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Tramadol Withdrawal: What Is the Danger of Tramadol Abuse?

Like all opioid analgesics, long-term drug use can lead to dependency. Frequent misuse of Tramadol will impact the user's brain. Chiefly, it increases a person’s tolerance to Tramadol.

A person's tolerance level is built when they abuse the drug, and their body gets accustomed to the dosage. Over time, the user will experience a less intense effect. This means they need to take more (and greater) doses to experience the same effect as before.

Physiological dependency occurs when a user abruptly stops their tramadol use. They are likely to experience mild to severe opioid withdrawal symptoms when they stop.

Tramadol Withdrawal: What Are the Symptoms of Tramadol Abuse?

Opioid addiction is similar to any substance use disorder. There would be a few initial signs of abuse that one can recognize to provide help. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) has outlined criteria for its diagnosis.

A few of them are mentioned below:

  • Drug cravings for Tramadol

  • Using more Tramadol than prescribed.

  • Consumed with procuring, using, and recuperating from Tramadol

  • Having disagreements with loved ones over Tramadol

  • Inability to cut back the use of Tramadol

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

  • Development of tolerance

Even though it is rare to overdose on Tramadol since it is less potent and addictive, the possibility remains. The most prominent reason behind this is mixing it with other addictive substances like opioid medications, alcohol, and marijuana. A few commonly experienced symptoms of using Tramadol are jerky muscles, agitation, confusion, rigid muscles, lack of coordination, tremors, seizure, and coma. 

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Tramadol Withdrawal: What Are Tramadol Side Effects?

Tramadol is a prescription painkiller that is less addictive than other opioid medications. The general effects produced by Tramadol can include relaxation and a sense of happiness. Those who are dealing with extreme levels of pain can end up taking more than the prescribed dose. This puts them at high risk. They are likely to experience a range of side effects, including respiratory depression and even seizures. Our central nervous system is targeted by Tramadol, and it works like a depressant. This is why Tramadol decreases the functioning of our hearts and lungs. Some side effects of abusing Tramadol are:

Common effects include vomiting, sedation, dizziness, constipation, and nausea. There is also a possibility of getting a life-threatening disorder known as serotonin syndrome. There is also a risk of getting a seizure. 

Mood-related side effects include euphoria, a sense of well-being, and relaxation.

Physical side effects include fatigue, headache, sweating, vomiting, pain relief, constipation, dizziness, lowered breathing rate, itching, and erectile dysfunction. 

Tramadol Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does Tramadol Withdrawal Last?

Various research and studies are coming forward with statistics regarding the rise in the use of Tramadol. There has been a significant increase in prescription rates, and more people are using it than before. This rise has been attributed to the occurrence of misuse and dependency.

Even though the potency level of Tramadol is slightly lower than other painkillers on the market, it is possible to get dependent on it after repeated use. This dependency can also happen when a person has been prescribed it by a qualified doctor. This is why they undergo uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they try to reduce the dosage or stop its use.

Since it's a synthetic opioid, many tramadol withdrawal symptoms resemble traditional opioids. But unlike them, Tramadol has effects on brain neurotransmitters like serotonin. A few commonly experienced withdrawal symptoms associated with tramadol use are chills, diarrhea, gooseflesh, confusion, fast breathing, abdominal cramps, agitation, anxiety, loss of appetite, confusion, increased blood pressure, panic, trouble in sleeping or waking, irritability, restless leg syndrome, panic attacks, and sweating.

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How Long Does Tramadol Withdrawal Last?

The length of tramadol withdrawal effects varies from person to person. It is determined by age, gender, length of addiction, type of substance, duration, intensity, physical fitness, body mass, and so much more

For an average adult, the withdrawal will begin after 1 or 2 days of last use. The symptoms will peak around the third day and likely subside in 2 weeks. Your tramadol withdrawal treatment must happen under the supervision of medical and addiction experts. Otherwise, the withdrawal symptoms are unpredictable, and a lack of medical watch can result in fatal incidences. 

Tramadol Addiction Treatment & Recovery

It can be difficult to quit Tramadol after you have become dependent on it. Fortunately, treatment can make this process easy and painless. To overcome tramadol addiction, you must first undergo a drug detox process.

Tramadol Withdrawal: Drug Detox

Detox or detoxification is a medical process that helps users stop Tramadol use safely and securely. To assess the physical issues, the physician would include a proper physical evaluation, including blood tests. Stabilizing the system once the substance is removed from the body is essential. The process would include medications to manage the withdrawal symptoms. The medications can include anti-anxiety drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants. 

Medical detox can last from a few days to several weeks. The exact timelines are mostly determined by the individual condition and the level of dependency. The main treatment will start once the detox process comes to an end. Since the main aim of the whole treatment is to live a healthy and comfortable life without Tramadol.

Addiction Counseling

It is vital to address and treat any underlying mental health-related issues like depression and anxiety. The treatment for tramadol addiction would be similar to any other opioid addiction.

Therapy for addiction involves counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists. It can happen in individual, couple, family, or group settings. Like different settings, there are various kinds of therapies:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a widely applied behavioral counseling in addiction treatment. This helps with the identification of negative attitudes and behavior that is causing addiction. The patient will also learn coping mechanisms, trigger recognition, and learn how to lower the relapse risk.

  • Contingency Management (CM): This is an ideal therapy for opioid addiction. It incorporates the concept of rewards like vouchers, discounts, and cash prizes in favor of being sober. The first few weeks of it can be challenging, but soon the user will find it easy to manage without drugs. 

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Fortunately, tramadol addiction treatment often includes medication to ease the struggle and intensity. There are maintenance medications like methadone that help with withdrawal symptoms. There are meds, including naltrexone and naloxone, that block the activation of opioid receptors. Medications are generally given in high-dependence cases only. 

Struggling with Tramadol Abuse? The Edge Treatment Center Has the Answer

All forms of opioid abuse are extremely risky. Even a milder opioid like Tramadol can be a gateway to heroin and other, harder opioid drugs. Plus, a person buying Tramadol on the street is literally gambling with their life. Counterfeit drugs are one of the biggest dangers of opioid abuse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Tramadol abuse, it's essential to seek help from a professional treatment center. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the complexity of opioid addiction and the unique challenges that come with Tramadol withdrawal.

Our team of experienced medical professionals and therapists provides individualized treatment plans to address each client's specific needs. We use evidence-based approaches, such as medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy, to help individuals safely detox from Tramadol and overcome their addiction.

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