Sometimes known by brand names such as Ultram, tramadol is a synthetic opioid. Opioids are a class of drugs that work on the opioid receptors in the brain to provide morphine-like effects. Although drugs such as heroin are still classified as opioids, medical professionals prescribe opioids such as tramadol to people who are suffering from various forms of acute pain.
Because of their pain-relieving properties, people sometimes prefer opioids to over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers because of their effectiveness. But people use tramadol for its prescribed use and for recreational purposes since it can create a euphoric feeling.
According to government statistics, tramadol prescriptions increased from about 23.3 million in 2008 to 43.8 million in 2013, which indicates an 88% spike. Since the opioid is not that difficult to obtain, more people may be developing addictions every day.
Because the body is equipped to adapt and evolve, it can start developing a tolerance to tramadol. When people are tolerant to a drug, they need more of the drug and need it more frequently to feel the same way they did when they first started using it.
Tramadol and other drugs change the body and brain, so people may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the substances.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
When you quit taking tramadol or reduce the amount you’ve been using, your body must react, especially if you’ve have taken the opioid for a while. To determine how long and severe the tramadol withdrawal will be, it’s helpful to examine the length and severity of the addiction.
Many people who want to stop using it want to know how long does tramadol withdrawal last. There is no single answer.
The experience is different for everybody, but it often lasts from a minimum of ten days to a few months. In order to estimate how long the withdrawal effects will last, you can look at person’s dosage, physiology, tolerance, and how long they have been taking tramadol.
Withdrawal from tramadol typically occurs in two main stages: early and late withdrawal. Early withdrawal refers to the effects you feel when tramadol begins to leave your system. Late tramadol withdrawal side effects may occur a few days after that.
Early tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Tearing eyes
- Racing heart rate
- Fast breathing
- Runny nose
- Muscle and body aches
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
Late tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Drug cravings
- Loss of appetite
- Pupil dilation
- Difficulties concentrating or thinking clearly
- Chills and goosebumps
- Stomach pain and cramping
Unlike other opioids such as oxycodone, tramadol works to suppress pain in two ways: inhibiting norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake and by stimulating opioid receptors. For this reason, withdrawal from tramadol can produce other symptoms typically not seen in other opioids. This means the detox can create psychological symptoms such as:
- Intense paranoia
- Unusual sensory experiences, including numbness and prickling in the extremities
- High anxiety and panic
- Confusion and disorientation
If you want to stop using tramadol, you need to detox. For people who have taken tramadol a while, changes occur in the brain and the body to convince them that they cannot function without tramadol. That is why after your last dose, you may feel a powerful urge to use more, even when you no longer need the prescription.
Generally, you can expect the withdrawal process to follow a tramadol detox timeline. If you’re wondering how long do tramadol withdrawal symptoms last, here are tramadol withdrawal stages:
- 6-12 hours: During the first 6-12 hours after your last dose, you will notice some minor signs of withdrawal. To the untrained eye, it might look like the flu because of you may be sweating and have watery eyes, a runny nose, and body aches.
- Days 1-3: These first few days may be some of the toughest you have ever faced. The symptoms of withdrawal are usually at their peak during this time. Since the body is reeling from the decreased amount of tramadol in your system, you should expect to experience more flu-like symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, chills, stomach cramping, depression, and a very intense craving for the drug.
- Days 4-7: At this time, most of the tramadol is out of your system. Therefore the symptoms should have decreased significantly, but you might still be experiencing discomfort. You could be experiencing intestinal issues, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, and even more cravings. Sleep quality and quantity is much better at this time, though.
- Weeks 2-3: For the next few weeks, sleep quality will continue to improve, but you may still have to contend with mood swings. The physical aches at this point should be over, but psychological problems may persist. During these first few weeks of being clean, it’s essential to seek professional assistance to prevent a relapse. Here you will find the support you need to deal with underlying issues in your life and get stronger every day.
Tramadol Withdrawal Guidelines
Most people think that they can kick a habit such as tramadol addiction by themselves. If they do that, their experience probably won’t be so pleasant. The process can be mild, moderate, or brutal, depending on how the person has been taking tramadol.
Since withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, even dangerous, it’s advisable to do it in the presence of medical professionals. When people use tramadol in combination with other drugs, it can create chemical reactions that are more dangerous than taking the opioid by itself.
According to a survey that studied why people visit emergency rooms (ERs), about 71% of the people who visited because of tramadol-related complications reported that they combined tramadol with other sedatives and painkillers for a more intense high.
Although such combinations may produce a more intense high, they also create much higher risks of dying from seizures. Tramadol is highly associated with seizures. Using the drug could create seizures, even for people with no previous histories of seizures.
People who have had previous seizures or experienced traumatic brain injuries also faced higher odds of experiencing seizures during withdrawal, which could lead to tramadol withdrawal death. Because of these risks, seasoned medical professionals should monitor people in case anything happens and they need to save someone’s life.
Because tapering can be very effective in helping people get clean, doctors can create a series of steps and dosing protocols that can help manage the symptoms of withdrawal. This can prevent people from experiencing too many symptoms too soon and allows everyone to handle the problem.
If the symptoms of withdrawal are too intense, medical professionals can help people manage them so that they can find relief. For example, some medications help with withdrawal symptoms. Some of the drugs include:
- Metoclopramide for nausea and vomiting
- Clonidine for anxiety and sweating
- Loperamide for diarrhea
- Valium for anxiety and insomnia
- Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for muscle aches
- Buprenorphine to lessen the effects of withdrawal symptoms
Since some people need a pain reliever for long-term use because of an injury or another condition, they may develop a physical dependence on the drug. Although you might not need any additional treatment, it’s important that you develop a strategy to deal with the pain after tapering off your medication. Otherwise, you could become dependent on the drug again.
If you were using the drug for recreational reasons, you may be facing additional problems and trying to become (or stay) sober. While some people have the willpower to stop and not use again, others need some encouragement, assistance, and structure to find recovery.
Some people work with psychiatrists to help them through their journeys. Psychiatrist help people explore the deep and hidden issues that prompted you to abuse tramadol in the first place.
By addressing these issues, you empower yourself and create an environment where you are less likely to slip back into your past thoughts and actions. If you want to kick a tramadol addiction, we could be your partner. We’ll be with you during detox and work to provide the professional care you deserve.
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.
Talk with one of our Treatment Specialists!
Call 24/7: 949-276-2886