Tramadol Addiction And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on January 14, 2022

Addiction treatment can help people with a tramadol addiction by providing medical and behavioral healthcare services that are shown to help people achieve recovery.

Tramadol Addiction And Treatment Options

Tramadol is a prescription opioid medication. Although it’s described as a narcotic with a low risk for abuse, tramadol can be misused for nonmedical purposes and become addictive.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that can be difficult to overcome alone. For most, this will require getting help through a substance abuse treatment program.

Addiction treatment programs can offer medical care, behavioral health treatment, and teach skills to help you build a life in recovery that is successful, fulfilling, and addiction-free.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol, also known as Conzip or Ultracet (with acetaminophen), is a prescription opioid painkiller that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain around-the-clock.

Tramadol is similar to drugs such as:

  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

Tramadol works in the body by depressing the central nervous system, which can cause drowsiness, and attaching to opioid receptors, which are involved in regulating pain response.

Tramadol is a weak opioid. When abused, however, it can still cause euphoric effects, similar to other common opioids of abuse, and become psychologically addictive.

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Examples Of Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol is sometimes abused for its effects. Drug abuse is broadly defined as any use of a drug that’s not prescribed by a doctor or taken as directed according to medication instructions.

Examples of tramadol abuse include:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking doses more often
  • crushing and snorting tramadol
  • plugging tramadol
  • dissolving tablets in order to inject
  • mixing it with other drugs for stronger effects
  • taking tablets from someone else’s prescription

Tramadol And Polysubstance Abuse

Some people who abuse tramadol combine it with other drugs, including alcohol, to either strengthen or neutralize drug effects.

This behavior is known as polysubstance abuse and is associated with a number of health risks.

Health risks associated with polysubstance abuse include:

  • higher risk of overdose
  • tramadol dependence
  • respiratory depression
  • serotonin syndrome (from mixing tramadol with antidepressants)
  • loss of consciousness
  • sudden death

Consequences can occur from mixing tramadol with alcohol, other opioid analgesics, sedatives, or stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or amphetamines.

Side Effects Of Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol is a central nervous system depressant that can have physical, cognitive, and psychological side effects, both when abused and when taken as prescribed.

Tramadol abuse can result in enhanced side effects, as well as effects that are not typical with prescribed drug use.

The following are possible side effects of tramadol abuse:

  • drowsiness
  • extreme happiness
  • calmness
  • slowed breathing
  • difficulty breathing
  • reduced heart race
  • decreased blood pressure
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • muscle tightness
  • tiny pupils (“pinpoint pupils”)
  • stomach cramps
  • flushed skin
  • mood swings

Signs And Symptoms Of Tramadol Addiction

Tramadol addiction can develop as a result of chronic tramadol abuse. For some, this can develop within as little as a few weeks, with negative consequences to health and quality of life.

Addiction can manifest physically, mentally, and psychologically. This is a chronic, progressive disease that can be identified by certain signs and symptoms of opiate addiction.

Common signs of tramadol addiction include:

  • taking very high doses of tramadol
  • snorting, injecting, or plugging tramadol
  • constantly thinking about tramadol
  • being unable to quit tramadol or reduce your drug use
  • opioid withdrawal symptoms within hours of last use
  • hiding or lying about tramadol use
  • taking tramadol with other drugs simultaneously

Risks Of Long-Term Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol abuse over a long period of time can have a number of adverse effects on health.

Addiction is the greatest risk. It can result in severe physical dependence, and has the ability to impact virtually all areas of your health and life, including your relationships with loved ones.

Health risks of long-term tramadol abuse include:

  • constant drug cravings
  • chronic constipation
  • heart problems
  • insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • lack of sexual desire
  • inability to concentrate
  • poor nutrition
  • increased risk of opioid overdose

Tramadol Overdose Signs And Symptoms

Prescription opioids like tramadol are involved in thousands of drug overdose deaths in the United States each year, and not all who overdose are necessarily addicted.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of a tramadol overdose, seek emergency medical attention right away. Getting help quickly could be life-saving.

Possible signs and symptoms of a tramadol overdose include:

  • blue color to fingernails and lips
  • difficulty breathing
  • very slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
  • loss of consciousness
  • unable to respond or wake up
  • extremely small pupils
  • slow heart rate
  • limp muscles
  • vomiting
  • stomach spasms
  • gurgling noises

Other symptoms may occur if tramadol has been taken with other drugs. If help is sought quickly, opioid overdose can be reversed with the use of Narcan, or naloxone.

Naloxone is an opioid overdose-reversal drug that can block the effects of tramadol in the brain and help prevent fatal outcomes in the event of an overdose.

What Is A Lethal Dose Of Tramadol?

Taking too much tramadol can lead to fatal outcomes. The lethal dose of tramadol, according to research, is over 4,000 milligrams (mg) for the average person.

Treatment Options For Tramadol Abuse And Addiction

Overcoming tramadol abuse and addiction is possible. For most, this begins with detoxification and finding substance abuse treatment through a treatment center.

Tramadol treatment programs include:

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is the most effective treatment for opioid addiction, and is offered by both outpatient and some inpatient treatment providers.

When offered as part of a treatment plan, this involves the use of medications like methadone or buprenorphine alone with behavioral therapy and substance use counseling.

Do You Need To Detox From Tramadol?

Finding a treatment program that offers tramadol detoxification (detox) services is recommended if you’ve been taking tramadol on a daily or regular basis for at least several weeks.

Tramadol detox can help you safely stop taking tramadol and provide medical treatment for symptoms of tramadol withdrawal, including anxiety, body pain, and cravings.

How Long Does Tramadol Remain In Your System?

Tramadol can remain detectable in a person’s system for up to 72 hours, on average. This will depend on the method of detection, drug tolerance, and dosage among other factors.

Tramadol use can be detected by:

Tramadol Abuse And Addiction FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about tramadol abuse and addiction.

Tramadol is classified by the federal government as a schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it has a low potential for abuse and addiction.

However, it can become addictive if misused alone or in combination with other drugs.

Prescription tramadol is available in the form of an extended-release tablet, a liquid solution, regular tablet, or an extended-release capsule.

Bought off the street, tramadol may look different. This will depend on the formulation, whether it is pharmaceutical grade, and whether it has been mixed or laced with other drugs.

Tramadol can cost anywhere from less than one dollar to $18 per pill. Pharmacy prices for tramadol and its brand name equivalents may vary.

Tramadol is prescribed under brand names Conzip, Qdolo, and Ultracet (with acetaminophen). Ultram ER, another medication containing tramadol, has been discontinued in the U.S.

Tramadol is also referred to by some street names. Common street names for tramadol include tramal, trammies, and chill pill.

Find Tramadol Addiction Treatment Today

Millions of Americans misuse prescription pain relievers like tramadol each year. Overcoming a drug abuse problem, and achieving long-term recovery, is possible.

Contact us today to talk to a treatment specialist about finding tramadol abuse and addiction treatment options for yourself, a friend, or family member.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on January 14, 2022
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