Confidential Contact Form
Tramadol: Side Effects, Addiction, Withdrawal & Overdose
At some point, almost everyone will experience pain. For some, that pain is chronic and requires medication to manage. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic that is commonly prescribed for the management of moderate to severe pain.
Although it is generally considered safe and effective when used as directed, tramadol can be addictive and lead to debilitating withdrawal symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at tramadol addiction, overdose, detox, and treatment.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a drug under the class of man-made opioids. In general, opioids work by creating a morphine-like impact on the person which is to ease physical pain. This synthetic drug is used to alleviate medium to intense pain, particularly from accidents or major surgeries.
Like other drugs, this is also known by several brand names. Some of the known brand names of this drug are Rybix, ODT, Ultram ER, Conzip, and Ultram.
In terms of strength, Tramadol has a weaker pain-relieving potential compared to morphine. The strength ratio between this drug and morphine is 0.25: 0.1.
What Does Tramadol Look Like?
This drug is easy to spot in stores and pharmacies because of its pill identifiers. It is commonly sold in capsules and tablets where its strength can be in 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, and 300 milligrams.
The 100 mg and 200 mg tablets are both round in shape and white. The distinct difference between the two lies in their pill imprints. The pill imprints of the 100 mg and 200 mg are “PAR 821” and “PAR 822”, respectively. Whereas, the 50 mg tablet has the physical features of white color, round shape, and a pill imprint of “AN 627”.
In addition, this drug can be categorized based on how quickly it induces its effects. These two classifications are immediate-release and extended-release forms. The former is fast-acting after oral ingestion as the effect of this drug can be readily felt by the person. Whereas, the latter form is gradual in its effect which is suitable for patients suffering from severe pain.
What Is Tramadol Used For?
This drug is primarily used to alleviate moderate to severe pain. Its effect can last for up to six hours depending on the strength of the dosage and the person’s metabolism. As an opioid analgesic, it is also used as a cough suppressant.
Tramadol is generally well-tolerated by most patients when taken as prescribed. It is considered to have a lower risk of abuse and dependence compared to other opioid drugs. Nevertheless, tramadol can still be abused and lead to addiction.
How Does Tramadol Work?
The nature of the operation for this synthetic drug is similar to morphine and other natural opioids. Once orally ingested, it targets and binds to specific brain receptors and the spinal cord to block the capacity to feel pain.
In addition, to further ease the pain, this drug also stimulates the secretion of dopamine so the person experiences euphoric feelings. This drug also can inhibit the absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine which reinforces its pain relief action.
How Long Before You Can Feel the Effects of Tramadol?
It takes around 30 to 60 minutes for the fast-acting version of the drug to take effect. In general, the effects of fast-acting tramadol can last for up to six hours, peaking at 2 to 3 hours.
Slow-acting tramadol can take longer to work. The peak effects are usually felt after 10 to 12 hours, but the user can experience pain relief for 24 hours. However, this can still depend on how quickly the person’s body metabolizes the drug.
How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Your System?
This substance has a half-life of 6 hours. It means if one ingested a 100 mg tablet, half of this amount is metabolized or flushed out from the body after six hours.
Depending on the drug testing method, tramadol can be detected in your system at different rates:
- Saliva Test – 48 hours
- Blood Test – 48 hours
- Urine Test – 24 to 72 hours
- Hair Test – Up to 90 days
What are the Short and Long-term Effects of Tramadol?
Using this drug, even for a short period, can already cause side effects. It’s then important to limit its usage to the shortest time possible and take it only as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Short-term effects of tramadol use can include:
The common short-term side effects of this drug include itchiness, nausea, frequent headaches, stomach pains, disorientation, lethargy, agitation, and heartburn.
Meanwhile, when used and abused for a longer duration, this can lead to serious long-term side effects. The typical long-term side effects of this drug include convulsions, suicidal behavior, low adrenaline rush, very low blood pressure, slowed breathing patterns, withdrawal syndrome for the unborn child, and death.
Is Tramadol Addictive?
Before, this drug was not controlled and made available over-the-counter to various patients. However, because of the numerous cases of abuse and dependence, this drug has now been classified as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Tramadol can be addictive, and this is especially true for those with a history of substance abuse. When taken in large doses or more frequently than recommended, the person can develop tolerance to its effects. This can quickly lead to addiction.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?
When a person suddenly stops taking tramadol or significantly reduces the dosage, this can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These include nervousness, muscle spasms, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, sweaty and cold skin, and slight tremors.
Depending on the severity of the addiction, the withdrawal symptoms can be more severe. You must consult a healthcare provider or an addiction professional to help you through this process.
What Causes Tramadol Overdose? Signs of an Overdose
Mixing tramadol with other drugs, whether illicit or prescription, can cause drug interactions. When taken with alcohol or other depressants, this can lead to overdose.
An overdose of tramadol is characterized by the following symptoms:
- slowed breathing and heartbeat
- loss of consciousness
- contracted pupils
What Should You Do If Someone Is Overdosing?
Calling emergency services is the best way to address an overdose. If possible, you should also bring the person to the nearest hospital or healthcare facility.
First-aid like naloxone may not completely work when it comes to tramadol overdose. However, if it’s available, it’s still best to administer this as it can help partially reverse the effects of an overdose.
How Do You Treat Tramadol Addiction? Detox & Treatment
If you are addicted to tramadol, you must seek professional help as soon as possible. There are different drug addiction treatment options available depending on your specific situation.
The first step is usually detoxification where the person is slowly weaned off the drug. This is done in a controlled and safe environment under medical supervision. After which, different therapy options and support groups are available to help the person recover from addiction.
Final Thoughts: Addressing Tramadol Abuse and Addiction
Tramadol is a potent drug. When used properly, it can provide relief from pain. However, because of its potential for abuse and addiction, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved in taking this drug.
If you or someone you know is struggling with tramadol abuse or addiction, please seek professional help. There are different programs and treatment options available to help you through this difficult time.