In a nutshell, 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 hard drugs such as heroin are still classified as opioids, medical professionals will often prescribe mild opioids such as tramadol to people who are suffering from various forms of acute pain. Because of their pain-relieving properties, they are at times preferred versus over the counter painkillers because of their effectiveness. However, people do use tramadol for both the prescribed use and recreationally since it brings about a euphoric feeling when you take it.
According to numbers provided by the government, tramadol prescriptions have 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 get your hands on, we can see that more and more people are developing an addiction every day. Because the body is equipped to adapt and evolve, it starts developing a tolerance to tramadol after some time. At this point, you will notice that you will need more of the drug, more frequently to feel the same way you did in the beginning. At this stage, you can quit, but because of the changes to the body and brain during the time you were abusing tramadol, you will experience withdrawal symptoms to a certain degree.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
When you quit taking tramadol or reduce the amount, your body must react, especially when you have taken the opioid for a while. To determine how long and severe the tramadol withdrawal will be, we must take a look at the length and severity of the addiction. Most people who want to kick this habit want to know how long does Tramadol withdrawal last. The true answer is that the experience is different for everybody, but will usually last from a minimum of 10 days for a couple of months. In order to estimate how long the withdrawal effects will be around for, you have to look at a person’s dosage, physiology, tolerance, and how long they have been taking the drug.
When it comes to tramadol, you can expect the withdrawal to go in two main stages; early and late withdrawal. Early withdrawal refers to the effects you feel when the tramadol begins to leave your system and late withdrawal a few days after that. Some of the tramadol withdrawal side effects include:
Early tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Tearing up
- 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 Oxycontin, tramadol works to suppress pain in two ways; inhibiting norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake and by stimulating opioid receptors. For this reason, withdrawal from tramadol attracts other symptoms typically not seen in other opioids. This means the detox will also bring on 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 quit using tramadol, you need to detox. Since doctors prescribe this drug, you find that even people taking it as prescribed by the doctor without abusing it might also need to detox. For people who have taken tramadol a while, changes occur in the brain and even influence the body to believe that it cannot function without the tramadol. That is why a few hours after your last dose, you will feel a powerful urge to get some more even when you no longer need the prescription. Generally, you can expect the withdrawal process to follow a tramadol detox timeline. To answer the question as to how long do tramadol withdrawal symptoms last, here are the 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 the sweating, watery eyes, runny nose, and body aches.
Days 1-3: these first few days will probably be 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 continuous dip 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 are not out of the woods yet. You should expect some intestinal issues, some fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, and even more cravings. Sleep quality and quantity here is much better.
Weeks 2-3: for these next few weeks, sleep quality will continue to improve, but you will still have to contend with some mood swings. The physical aches at this point are over, but the psychological war is only just beginning. During these first few weeks of being clean, it’s essential to seek professional assistance to prevent a relapse. Here you will get all the support you need to deal with some underlying issues in your life and get stronger every day.
Tramadol Withdrawal Guidelines
Most people think that they can kick a habit like taking tramadol by themselves. However, the experience isn’t so pleasant. The process can be mild, moderate, or very brutal, depending on how the person has been taking tramadol. Since the withdrawal can be very uncomfortable as indicated by the symptoms, it’s advisable to do all of it in the presence of a medical professional. When people use tramadol in combination with other drugs, it creates a chemical reaction that is a lot more dangerous and harmful to the body than taking the opioid by itself. According to a survey of emergency rooms regarding the reasons ER visits, about 71% of people who are coming in because of a tramadol linked complication indicate that they are combining the tramadol with other sedatives and painkillers for a better high. Although it might work, it places the user at a much higher risk of dying from seizures. The drug tramadol is highly associated with seizures. A substantive link showed that people could get them whether or not they had a history of getting seizures before. As such, people who have had seizures before or have experienced a traumatic brain injury face higher odds of having a seizure during the withdrawal which could lead to tramadol withdrawal death. Because of that, it makes sense to have a seasoned medical professional watching over the patient so that in case anything happens, they are in the best position to help and save a life.
Because tapering is very effective in helping people get clean, the doctor can create a stepped down dosing protocol that will help manage the symptoms of the withdrawal. This will prevent the patient from experiencing too much too soon, and therefore, the problem is that much better handled. When you cannot take the symptoms of withdrawal, a medical professional can help you manage them so that you can at least have some sense of relief in the process. We can give you some over the counter medications to help with the 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 (Subutex) to lessen the effects of the withdrawal symptoms
Long Term Treatment
Since some people need a pain reliever for long term use because of an injury or something similar, they will often develop a physical dependence on the drug even though it was just for therapeutic purposes. Although you might not need any additional treatment, it’s important that you develop a strategy to deal with the pain after tapering off or else you will end up right where you were. If you were using the drug for recreational reasons, you could expect a long road in front of you. While some people have the willpower to stop and not use again, others need some encouragement, and structure so that they stay on the right path.
For this reason, you find that others will be in more need of a psychiatrist to help them through their journeys than others. With a psychiatrist, you get to explore the deep and hidden issues that pushed you to abuse tramadol in the first place. By conquering these demons, you empower yourself and create an environment where you are less likely to slip back into past behavior and make better choices. If you want to kick a tramadol addiction, we are the partner you are looking for. We will take good care of you during your detox to ensure that you pull through in one piece and also find the professional care you deserve.