Prescription medications often have adverse or unpredictable interactions with alcohol. Tramadol is no exception, as it is considered dangerous to consume with alcohol. Unfortunately, the use of multiple substances, like mixing alcohol with prescription drugs, is increasingly common in the United States.
Opioids like tramadol are generally prescribed to treat severe pain after surgery or chronic pain when other options fail. And although tramadol was developed to be less addictive than other opioids, like oxycodone, it has long-term addictive properties.
The use and abuse of prescription opioids like tramadol has become a troubling trend. When combined with central nervous system depressants like alcohol, results may include severe addiction, overdose, and death.
Dangers Of Mixing Tramadol With Alcohol
Tramadol was developed as a less addictive alternative to opioid medications like fentanyl and morphine. But despite its reduced risk for short-term addiction, when used as a long-term pain analgesic, a person may experience unpleasant side effects, including dependency. The use of tramadol with alcohol can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression among other opiate-related symptoms.
Tramadol can be abused by crushing, chewing, or snorting the long-acting medication for a more immediate release.
Tramadol Side Effects
Tramadol is the active ingredient in brand names like Ultram, Conzip, and Ultracet (which contains ibuprofen).
Short-term effects of tramadol abuse include:
- elevated mood
Alcohol Side Effects
Alcohol is one of the oldest central nervous system depressants. Its wide availability and known effects make it common for polysubstance use with benzodiazepines, opioids, and uppers like Adderall or meth. When used together with tramadol, the combined CNS depressant impact can lead to dangerous overdose reactions.
Effects of alcohol in the short-term include:
- volatile emotions
- poor judgment and coordination
- blurred vision
Alcohol can ultimately damage the liver, brain, and heart.
Some long-term symptoms of extended or intense periods of drinking alcohol include:
- cirrhosis and liver fibroids
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- memory loss and learning trouble
- poor attention span
- throat, stomach, kidney, and liver cancers
The drug interactions of mixing alcohol and tramadol compound some effects of drinking along with the side effects of tramadol. Drug abuse combined with sustained alcohol abuse goes against good medical advice.
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Adverse effects of using both tramadol and alcohol include:
- extreme sleepiness
- unusual dizziness
- decreased coordination
- slow or difficulty breathing
- memory problems
- unusual behavior
- loss of consciousness
Long-Term Risks Of Mixing Tramadol And Alcohol
Over time, people that drink alcohol combined with opioid substance use increase their risks for dangerous overdose, systemic damage, and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. General symptoms include long-term kidney damage, liver damage, and depression.
Alcohol combined with high doses of tramadol can result in serotonin syndrome. This dangerous reaction occurs after sustained long-term abuse of tramadol.
People suffering from serotonin syndrome may experience:
- spasms and tremor
Drug Or Alcohol Overdose
Many opioid overdoses include the use of alcohol or benzodiazepines. The most serious symptoms are immediately threatening to the lungs, brain function, and heart.
Because of the extreme central nervous system depression that happens to a person who has overdosed on an opioid such as tramadol, it is vital to recognize symptoms. If somebody is actively overdosing, it is important to contact 911, who can administer naloxone to reverse some effects and preserve life.
Symptoms of combined alcohol and tramadol overdose include:
- slowed breathing rate
- pale or blue skin
- loss of consciousness
- low heart rate
Withdrawal Symptoms When Using Tramadol And Alcohol
Serious withdrawal symptoms can result when a person stops using alcohol or tramadol for a period of time if they have developed a chemical dependency, or physical reliance, on one or both substances.
Withdrawals can also happen when a person simply doesn’t have enough of a substance in their system when trying to achieve a desired effect. This can lead to a slippery slope of overuse and withdrawal.
Withdrawal from tramadol and alcohol is uncomfortable, and effects may be severe — even dangerous — if not supervised.
Some combined symptoms of tramadol and alcohol withdrawals include:
- increased blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- mood swings
Treatment For Addiction To Alcohol And Tramadol
If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol abuse or opioid addiction, there are a number of treatment options available to turn your life around. Addiction treatment comes in many forms, and our addiction treatment specialists can help you navigate through the range of treatment programs that will be most suitable for you.
We can help you find inpatient treatment for detox supervised by medical professionals and behavioral treatment to give you the coping tools needed to sustain a clean and sober life. Help is here. If you’re ready to make a change for the better, call us today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- National Health Service — Tramadol
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Harmful Interactions: Mixing Medicines with Alcohol
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Alcohol Management as Harm Reduction
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Serotonin Syndrome