Tramadol Withdrawal and Detox

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: September 29, 2022

Tramadol withdrawal can be similar to opioid withdrawal but may involve additional atypical symptoms. This blog explains a bit more about the substance, its withdrawal symptoms, and how to safely and effectively detox from the drug.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid drug that doctors prescribe to treat moderate to severe pain. FDA approved in 1995, tramadol is available in oral and injectable forms. While tramadol is effective for pain relief, regular use comes with the risk of both physical dependence and addiction.

Tramadol is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule IV controlled substance.

How Does Tramadol Affect the Brain?

Tramadol is a centrally acting opioid analgesic that affects µ opioid receptors and increases the availability of the neurotransmitters catecholamine and serotonin in the central nervous system (CNS). These additional areas of action mean it has some different properties from conventional opioid drugs. Scientists have found that it is less likely to cause respiratory depression than other prescription opioids, leading some doctors to favor its use.

How Do People Abuse Tramadol?

Tramadol abuse is when you use tramadol recreationally or in a way other than what your doctor prescribes. This may involve illegally obtaining tramadol through multiple prescriptions, taking it in higher doses, or using it for longer than the prescription entails.

People usually abuse tramadol to experience its euphoric effects that accompany pain relief. People may mix tramadol with other substances, including alcohol, with potentially lethal consequences.

What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?

Tramadol can cause serious breathing problems that may manifest in the first three days of treatment, or when the dosage is increased. In some cases, breathing problems can be life-threatening. Your doctor will closely monitor you at the start of treatment and intervene if necessary.

It's important to tell your doctor if you have ever experienced slow breathing, asthma, head injury, or lung disease, as this can make taking tramadol more dangerous. Tramadol is also unsafe for children and can interact with other medications.

What Is Tramadol Dependence?

Tramadol dependence is when your body gets used to the presence of the substance and begins to adjust its functions in response. You begin to need more and more of the substance to experience the same effects and eventually become dependent on the drug to feel normal. If you suddenly stop taking tramadol, you experience a series of withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts.

Despite early misconceptions that the risk of developing tramadol dependence was low, it's relatively easy to become dependent on tramadol. It's possible to develop a physical dependence even when taking the substance as your doctor prescribes - but abusing the substance makes it much more likely.

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms can be similar to opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, because tramadol affects catecholamines and serotonins as well as µ receptors in the brain, some withdrawal symptoms are different from traditional opioid withdrawal symptoms and may instead mimic serotonin reuptake blockers withdrawal symptoms.

Because of this, tramadol withdrawal may take two forms: traditional opioid withdrawal syndrome and atypical opioid withdrawal syndrome (present in about 1/8 of cases). You may experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, depending on your drug use, metabolism, and physical and mental health.

Traditional symptoms of tramadol withdrawal are mostly physical. They may include, among others:

  • stomach pain
  • bone pain
  • diarrhea
  • epiphora
  • nausea
  • excessive persipration
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • agitation

Atypical symptoms are more likely to be psychological, including:

  • severe anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • confusion
  • delusion, derealization, and depersonalization
  • paranoid thoughts
  • unnatural sensory experiences such as tingling and numbness
  • hallucinations

How Long Does Tramadol Withdrawal Last?

Symptoms of tramadol withdrawal usually begin 8 - 24 hours after the last dose. When untreated, they typically last for 4 - 10 days.

However, everyone's experience of drug addiction and substance withdrawal is different. The length of withdrawal can depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • your metabolism
  • how long you have taken tramadol
  • the doses you have been taking
  • co-occurring mental and physical health conditions

How Can You Treat Tramadol Withdrawal?

How Can You Treat Tramadol Withdrawal?

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and even dangerous. Because of this, it isn't safe to try and detox from tramadol alone. Instead, a professional medical detox can guide you through the withdrawal process, helping you to safely manage withdrawal and other atypical withdrawal symptoms.

Medical detox will involve a personalized detox plan where you gradually taper off substance use to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms. While medical detox can be inpatient or outpatient, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends 24-hour medical supervision for opiate withdrawal due to the potential severity of symptoms.

Doctors may prescribe certain medications to help treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. These may include:

  • Buprenorphine - Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors in place of tramadol. It helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and decrease cravings.
  • Clonidine - Clonidine, a non-opioid substance, may help to relieve symptoms of diarrhea, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, and nausea.

How to Clean Your Body from Tramadol

Medical detox programs can support you to clean your body from tramadol safely and as comfortably as possible. During medical detox, licensed medics are by your side to help you manage unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, and cravings, and pave the way for long-term recovery.

Tramadol Addiction Treatment

While tramadol detox is usually the first stage in addiction recovery, it is rarely sufficient to maintain long-term abstinence. Instead, detox helps you get your body and mind ready to engage in therapy and other treatments that address the underlying causes of addiction and cause long-lasting change.

Decades of scientific research have uncovered a range of addiction treatment options proven to support addiction recovery. These include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group programming
  • Support groups
  • Complementary therapies such as yoga and meditation
  • Experiential therapy
  • Life skills development
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Dual diagnosis

Addiction treatment programs can be inpatient, where you stay in a treatment center for the duration of the program, or outpatient, involving regular visits to a center while continuing to live at home. Both types of programs offer different benefits, and you may move between levels of care. Addiction recovery centers and other mental health professionals can offer expert advice on which type of treatment is best for you.

Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that staying in treatment for an adequate length of time is essential for positive outcomes and longer treatment durations are associated with better results. Effective addiction treatment programs offer comprehensive aftercare to guide you through the next stages of recovery, connecting you to local sources of support (such as recovery meetings) and offering additional help when required.

Addiction Treatment at NP Addiction Clinic

Addiction Treatment at NP Addiction Clinic

NP Addiction Clinic is a world-class drug and alcohol rehab center in St. Lucie, Florida. Our mission is to offer compassionate and comprehensive care that supports life-long recovery. We turn our mission into a reality for our clients through a top-tier range of specialized, evidence-based treatments and holistic mind-body therapies.

Our welcoming, comfortable center is staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Our expert team of licensed professionals stays by your side from the beginning to the end of your treatment program, ensuring you receive the highest quality of individualized care at all times.

With our support, you can break free from addiction and live a fulfilling life. Contact us today to begin your journey.

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