Tramadol is a synthetic opioid painkiller used for the treatment of moderate and severe pain.
Like all drugs in the opioid class, tramadol has the potential for both abuse and addiction. Classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule IV substance, this means there is only a moderate likelihood of tramadol abuse developing. Physical dependence can occur after prolonged use.
If your physician prescribes this opioid, you should only take the medication as directed. You should also inform your doctor about any other medications you are taking as hundreds of drugs interact with tramadol.
The medication soothes pain by acting on the central nervous system (CNS).
This opioid can be prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain in adults. The medication can be used in isolation or as a component of combination therapy.
This synthetic opioid also comes in an extended-release formulation suitable for the management of continuous pain.
Is Tramadol an Opioid?
Tramadol is an opioid analgesic that alters the way your brain perceives pain by mimicking endorphins in the brain. Endorphins bind to your opioid receptors, sending diluted pain messages to the brain.
Beyond this, tramadol works on the monoamine reuptake system and central nervous system, helping you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
The long-term use of this opioid can lead to changes to the pathways and structures of the brain.
It then stimulates the opioid receptors in the brain while at the same time reducing the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin. As we’ll outline below, this renders you vulnerable to two forms of opioid withdrawal (traditional withdrawal and atypical withdrawal).
Tramadol Side Effects
These are the most common tramadol side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Lack of energy
Most of these milder side effects of tramadol should subside after just a few days. In some cases, side effects might linger for a few weeks. Consult your healthcare provider if side effects persist for a month.
You should consult your physician immediately in the event of any of these more serious side effects triggered by tramadol:
- Impaired coordination
- Rapid heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- Slowed breathing rate
- Raised body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Physical withdrawal symptoms
- Dependence or addiction
Does it Make You Sleepy?
Taking tramadol tablets is likely to induce drowsiness. You should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until you are confident of how the drug will affect you.
Drowsiness will be compounded if you consume other CNS depressants like alcohol while taking tramadol.
How Long Does it Last?
The effects of tramadol in its immediate release form last from 4 to 6 hours.
The effects of tramadol in extended release form last from 12 to 24 hours.
Although this drug came to market with a claimed low potential for abuse, this is not the case.
One of the boxed warnings issued for tramadol concerns misuse and addiction. The FDA also reports that the use of this opioid can lead to potentially deadly overdose.
To minimize the chance of opioid addiction developing in the form of opioid use disorder, use the medication rigidly as prescribed. Consult your treatment provider if you have any concerns about tolerance or dependence building.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
This specific opioid is one of the less addictive of all opioids, but addiction can occur. The risk is highest among those with a track record of substance abuse.
Abusing this drug may not always lead to dependence and addiction, but you should not take the risk of this happening.
Tramadol and Alcohol
To use this synthetic opioid safely, you should avoid alcohol completely while taking the medication. There are no safe scenarios for the use of alcohol and tramadol.
If you combine central nervous system depressants like alcohol and tramadol, this can magnify the effects of both substances. This leads to increased feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and wellbeing, even at very low doses.
Additionally, you can expect suppression of the following:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
If you take this opioid long-term, your brain gets accustomed to the effects of the drug, adjusting to allow for the continuous presence of opioids in the system.
When you discontinue use, the brain tries to recalibrate and restore homeostasis. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are a manifestation of the body and brain struggling to regain balance.
Tramadol withdrawal symptoms last for anywhere up to 14 days.
Many withdrawal side effects can be mitigated if your dosage is tapered down rather than being abruptly discontinued.
You can expect to experience any of all of the following:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pain
- Tingling sensations
- Blurred vision
- Appetite loss
- Mood swings
As mentioned above, you are susceptible to experiencing both traditional opioid withdrawal and atypical opioid withdrawal.
The symptoms of traditional opioid withdrawal include:
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Body pains
- Muscle aches
The symptoms of atypical opioid withdrawal include:
- Unusual sensory experiences
- Panic attacks
The severity of symptoms means a medically supervised detox is generally advisable for tramadol withdrawal.
Overcome Tramadol Addiction at The District
If you have become addicted to an opioid painkiller like tramadol, we can help you get back on track here at The District Recovery Community.
All of our gender-specific treatment programs are delivered in an outpatient setting, allowing you to remain anchored to everyday life without compromising the quality of the care you receive for the treatment of opioid use disorder.
Depending on the amount of support and structure you require in treatment, you can choose from the following programs:
- OP (regular outpatient program)
- IOP (intensive outpatient program)
- PHP (partial hospitalization program)
- Dual diagnosis program
You’ll have access to medication-assisted treatment to reduce the intensity of cravings for tramadol. You will also unpack the psychological aspect of opioid addiction through counseling and psychotherapy sessions.
At The District, we champion a whole-body approach to addiction recovery, so you will have access to holistic therapies alongside the above array of evidence-based treatments.
To stop using tramadol today, reach out to TDRC at 844.287.8506.