Tramadol is an opiate analgesic. Opioids are a class of medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. This medication comes in a solution, an extended-release tablet, and a capsule. Opioid analgesics change how the brain and the nervous system respond to pain. They are made from plants such as the poppy plant or are synthesized in a laboratory. When Tramadol first came on the market in the 1990s, it was not considered an opioid. However, since 2014, the FDA has designated Tramadol as a controlled substance. Other medications that contain Tramadol are Conzip, Ultram, and Ryzolt. Ultram and Ryzolt have been replaced with other generic forms of Tramadol. Minors should never be given this drug. Like all opioids, Tramadol can lead to dependence, primarily when used for long periods, leading to addiction. Tramadol can negatively affect your body, finances, family, and work relationships. Because of the side effects, it is unwise to combine Tramadol with other drugs, including alcohol, arbitrarily.

Negative Impact of Tramadol Use

Because of the distribution of opioid receptors both within and outside the nervous system, opioid analgesics produce a broad spectrum of adverse effects, including:

  • Dysphoria (state of dissatisfaction)
  • Euphoria (a surge of endorphins that creates a sense of pleasure)
  • Sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation
  • Suppression of endocrine systems (the system in the body that produces hormones to maintain the body’s balance including metabolism, energy level, reproduction, growth and development, sleep, production of white blood cells, blood pressure, insulin to regulate sugar levels, responses to injury, stress, and mood)
  • Cardiovascular disorders (e.g., bradycardia)
  • Convulsion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pruritus
  • Miosis (the constriction of the pupil of the eye)

Some people can metabolize Tramadol rapidly, causing extreme sleepiness, confusion, and shallow breathing quickly. Additionally, some people experience agitation, irritability, or other abnormal behaviors due to this drug. Depression and suicidal thoughts can become exacerbated.

According to recent research, long-term use of Tramadol is “associated with various neurological disorders like seizures, serotonin syndrome (which can cause shivering, diarrhea, severe muscle rigidity, and death if left untreated), Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.”

Some people who experience severe side effects can also experience low blood pressure, hallucinations, and difficulties urinating.

Ironically, some people use Tramadol to ease the withdrawal symptoms of opium. They are leading one down a dead end in beating addiction, especially if Tramadol use is being done without the supervision of an addiction physician. Abuse of Tramadol can also cause atypical withdrawal symptoms such as psychotic symptoms. In such cases, the proper diagnosis can be missed, and the client will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder rather than a withdrawal symptom of Tramadol.

Typical Withdrawal Symptoms of Tramadol

  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Bone pain
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Excessive perspiration

“Atypical symptoms include severe anxiety, panic attacks, CNS symptoms (confusion, delusion, derealization), a sense of being separate from people close to you, depersonalization (a belief that things around you aren’t real, and you are outside your body) … numbness, tingling, tinnitus, [and more].” The research found that people who experienced atypical symptoms took more than 400mg daily. In an analysis of misuse of Tramadol, in 2017, 1.6 to 1.8 million Americans reported misusing Tramadol alone or with other drugs. While the use of Tramadol was higher than those reporting misuse of morphine, it was lower than those using oxycodone and hydrocodone; nevertheless, the data remains concerning.

The University of British Columbia found that Tramadol increased the incidence of hypoglycemia; Tramadol was more likely than codeine to be associated with seizures leading to emergency room visits; and Tramadol was twice as likely as codeine to cause hospitalization due to hyponatremia (abnormally low sodium levels).

Tramadol Addiction

Despite widespread prescribing of Tramadol in the US, the drug remains highly addictive- sometimes addiction occurs within days or weeks. That means a person taking the medication for pain may become inadvertently addicted to Tramadol. The body will require larger doses more frequently to feel the desired effects. Seeking the drug to handle a particular way creates both a body/mind dependence. The addiction will become more complicated if the drug is used with other narcotics or habit-forming drugs. Wishing to stop taking Tramadol won’t stop withdrawal symptoms. As discussed earlier, there are typical and atypical withdrawal symptoms. It is always best to stop medication under the guidance of a physician.

Medical Detox and Treatment

The withdrawal length of Tramadol depends upon the amount used, other drugs used in conjunction with Tramadol, a person’s health, age, weight, a family of origin history, and many more aspects of living. It can take 4-10 days to overcome the withdrawal symptoms induced by Tramadol addiction. To address the withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol, some of which are life-threatening, a person should seek professional help at a licensed detox facility with medical staff knowledgeable in addiction medicine.

A few withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat

A medical team at the licensed facility can help evaluate a client’s physical, mental, and emotional state. Some medications can help ease the withdrawal symptoms of Tramadol. Once a person has successfully detoxed from all drugs, he/she/they should immediately move into a treatment program (that can be residential or outpatient). All treatment programs should utilize a team of experts that will regularly evaluate a client’s progress. Treatment includes multiple approaches to learning how to live without drugs and alcohol.

These approaches include medical support, behavioral support, life skills training, medication management, in some cases, work evaluations, peer support, and aftercare planning. A client moving through addiction treatment must feel comfortable addressing the stressors in his/her/their daily life that can place one’s recovery at risk. Issues that can commonly derail recovery include family dynamics, work or school stressors, exercise and nutrition, health, motivation, willingness to change, and many others. For this reason, a variety of therapeutic approaches are required.

If you or someone you love suffers from Tramadol addiction, call now to speak to a member of our staff. We can answer all your questions and get you or your loved one on the road to recovery today.