Tramadol is a narcotic drug that acts on pain receptors in the central nervous system in order to relieve moderate to severe pain. This analgesic comes in tablet form and is commonly known as Ultram, ConZip, or simply tramadol.

In order to legally obtain tramadol, a doctor must prescribe it, though it can also be bought online or through other means, which makes the drug easy to access for many addicts. When used in medical settings, tramadol helps patients manage various forms of pain such as postoperative pain, arthritic pain, injury-related pain, fibromyalgia, and more.

Just like any other narcotic drug, tramadol poses a great risk of addiction. Tramadol’s addiction potential is even higher if the drug is taken in larger quantities or used for longer than is recommended by a medical professional.

Keep reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of tramadol addiction and familiarize yourself with the treatment options that can help you or a loved one stay off of this addictive drug.

Tramadol abuser with a prescription pill bottle.

Even though tramadol is widely considered to be weaker than other opioids (both prescription and criminal drugs), the potential for dependence and addiction is still present. In fact, the “weaker” nature of tramadol may give users a false sense of security which may lead to excessive or improper use.

Tramadol works as a pain reliever by acting on the pain receptors in the brain and inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. This reduces the perception of pain and can cause feelings of pleasure and euphoria, which become the desired effects and contribute to the addiction potential of this drug.

As the brain gets used to the presence of tramadol, a dependence can form, and people may feel that they need to continue their use of tramadol or increase their dosage to feel the positive effects. This dependence can lead to abuse, and abuse can lead to addiction.

Signs and symptoms of tramadol abuse

Tramadol addict experiencing negative symptoms.

Tramadol addiction symptoms

The following are physical symptoms that a tramadol abuser may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Clumsiness or issues with coordination

Behavioral Signs

Due to physical and psychological effects of repeated tramadol use, an addict may display unusual behavioral changes. These signs can help people better understand the state of their loved ones, or even help tramadol users discover that they have an addiction:

  1. Social isolation or neglecting important relationships.
  2. Changing doctors quickly in order to get new prescriptions.
  3. Neglecting everyday responsibilities at home or in the workplace.
  4. Mood swings or other uncharacteristic behavioral changes.
  5. Excessive drowsiness.
  6. Attempting to procure tramadol illegally.
  7. Continued use of tramadol despite negative effects on quality of life.
  8. Inability to quit, or the presence of withdrawal symptoms upon trying to quit.
  9. Spending excessive amounts of money on tramadol.

Get a free online consultation to learn how to manage these symptoms for you or your loved one >>>

Short and long term effects of tramadol addiction

There are two kinds of tramadol, immediate-release and extended-release. The effects from immediate-release tablets can be felt for about 4-6 hours, whereas the effects from extended-release tablets last anywhere from 12-24 hours.

Short term side effects of tramadol can occur immediately after the first use and last for as long as the drug is in your system.

In cases of prolonged tramadol use or addiction, the long term side effects change and become more serious.

Short term effects of tramadol use

Even for those who are not abusing tramadol, short term side effects of the drug can appear quickly after the first use. These include but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Slowed breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating

Long term effects of tramadol abuse

Both the body and the brain can be affected by continued use or addiction to tramadol. These long term effects of abuse include but are not limited to:

  1. Seizures: While the risk of seizures is present even for those who aren’t abusing tramadol, research shows that the risk increases for people who have used the medication for an extended period of time.
  2. Respiratory Issues: Just like with other opioids, those who use tramadol are at risk of experiencing shallow breathing or impaired respiratory function. The risk is increased when tramadol is mixed with other opioids or substances such as alcohol or benzos.
  3. Organ Damage: Excessive or prolonged tramadol use can harm the liver and the kidneys, and may even lead to liver failure if too high of a dose is taken.
  4. Adrenal Issues: The adrenal gland is responsible for producing many hormones that are important to the proper functioning of your body. With prolonged tramadol use, your adrenal system may be compromised and hormone production may be lowered, which can cause several physical and psychological issues.
  5. Psychological Effects: Long term use may lead to anxiety, depression, and lowered self esteem as a result of the drug’s effect on the brain and the decreased quality of life many addicts face due to financial issues, isolation, compromised health

How to get started with treating tramadol addiction

Getting off tramadol can be an unpleasant experience. Depending on the extent of the addiction, withdrawal symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. The detoxification process may be very uncomfortable, depending on how much tramadol someone has been taking, and for how long.

To prevent relapse, avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms, and stay safe as you are getting off tramadol, the detoxification process should be supervised by a medical professional. This is especially true for those who are trying to stop taking tramadol after a serious addiction.

Medical professional supervising tramadol detoxification

There are two ways to be detoxed from tramadol. The first one involves gradually weaning the body from the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to let the body adjust by reducing the dosages of tramadol carefully and slowly until it is completely gone. Depending on the initial dose, the whole process of detoxification may take no less than 2-3 months.

If tapering off doesn’t work for you or if withdrawal symptoms are too intense, then a great option is ultra-rapid opioid detoxification (UROD). It is an effective, safe, and pain-free procedure. It may take about one or two weeks of intensive in-hospital treatment for tramadol to be cleaned from your system. During this period, the patient receives both medical care and psychological support at the same time.

Get help with detoxing safely and allow addiction treatment experts to walk you through the process.

If you want to find out more about getting rid of your addiction and avoiding relapse, get a free and confidential online consultation. You will discuss treatment options and the various outcomes with an expert of the clinic >>>

You can expect to go over the following topics:
1. How will addiction be treated in your case?
2. Will the treatment help to stop the urges and prevent relapse?
3. How much does the program cost and how long does it take?

If you think you have a tramadol addiction, get in contact with us to set up a treatment plan and start receiving the help you deserve.

Published on February 25, 2021

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