Tramadol Addiction, Abuse, Withdrawal & Treatment



Tramadol is a narcotic that is used as an analgesia to treat moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is also classed as an opiate. Tramadol is less potent than other opioids due it its choosy characteristics of attaching itself to CNS and brain receptacles. This medication has different trademark names in different countries such as: ConZip, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt, Ultram, Ultram ER. However it is generally marketed as hydrochloric salt, also known as Tramadol salt.

Use and abuse

Apart from treating pain, it is used for treating: rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and restless legs syndrome. Tramadol has also been said to have the potential of treating depression, anxiety, and phobias, but medical professionals have only allowed this use to be applied if other treatments fail and under the directives of a qualified psychiatrist. Tramadol has been proven effective in treating: depression, premature ejaculation, other stronger opioid withdrawal, compulsive disorders and antidepressants withdrawal.

Forms and administration

Tramadol is available in tablets, capsules, suppositories, effervescent tablets and powders, ampules, powders for compounding, solutions for injections by various routes and liquid forms. Just as there are many forms in which Tramadol comes, there are various ways of administration into the body from: oral administration, anal or vaginal suppositories, injecting it into the veins or into muscles.

Side effects of Tramadol

The side effects of Tramadol are close to those of other opioids and they include:

  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Aggressiveness
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hallucinations and confusion with realistic nightmares
  • Involuntary body shakes and tremors
  • Headaches that could range from mild to severe

Tolerance, dependence and addiction

Prolonged use of Tramadol, like that of other drugs, may develop increased tolerance, physical and emotional dependence and addiction. An attempt to stop using this medication when the body and mind has already gotten used to it may cause withdrawal symptoms, some which might be fatal if not treated properly.

Tramadol withdrawal

Tramadol withdrawal is the process through which somebody who has been using the medication, whether they have developed addiction or are just dependent on it, stops using Tramadol and experiences physical and emotional symptoms that result from a dependence that has developed, as the body has gotten used to its presence. It is thus advisable that, after a certain amount of time using Tramadol, one should not stop abruptly, but rather consult a doctor so that he may be advised on how to go about the process.

Withdrawal symptoms

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms last relatively longer than those of other drugs and they can start anytime from 12-20 hours after one stops taking the medication. As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that one should not forget their doses or abruptly stop taking Tramadol, for this may set some withdrawal symptoms in motion.

Some of these withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Anxiety
  • Uncontrollable nervous tremors
  • Muscle contracture
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures – especially with high oral or injection doses or for patients who have had head injuries or have an alcohol history
  • Constipation may occur in elderly patients
  • Thinking may be affected in the long term and therefore one’s personality

Who should be cautious when using this medication?

Whereas Tramadol may seem harmless, the following categories of people should consult their doctors whether to use Tramadol at all or whether their dosages should be reduced:

  • Patients taking stronger opioids such as methadone, oxycodone, morphine etc
  • People who are over 75 years old
  • Pediatrics
  • People who have kidney or liver problems

Interaction with other drugs

Tramadol is usually influenced in one way or another by the presence of other drugs in the system. While some reduce its effectiveness, others will amplify its effects and others will have their side effects blown out of proportion by Tramadol; threatening the life and sanity of the user.

Alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers and all other depressants should be avoided when one is taking Tramadol. This is because the combination may slow body functions or even stop them.


  • Carbamazepine reduces the effect of Tramadol.
  • Quinidine increases the concentration of Tramadol by 50% to 60%.
  • Combining Tramadol with an MAO can lead to seizures or other serious side effects.

Important note:

Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking.


Tramadol should not be taken by people:

  • Who have an alcohol history
  • People who have ever attempted suicide
  • People who are taking other drugs such as tranquilizers and sedatives


An overdose of Tramadol may occur if one:

  • Takes in more of the medication than what has been prescribed
  • Takes the medication more frequently than what has been prescribed
  • Alters the initial form of the Tramadol and administers it into the body in a different manner than is prescribed, making its absorption into the body faster and more intense. For instance, crushing tablets into the form of a powder that is inhaled or diluted to make an injectable liquid may cause an overdose and amplify the side effects

Tramadol could be summarized as follows:

  • It can cause dependence.
  • One should not take Tramadol without a doctor’s prescription.
  • Tramadol side effects are mild and can be tolerated except for when Tramadol has been combined  with other drugs, making the side effects intolerable.
  • Tramadol use during pregnancy should be avoided as its effects are not yet clear.
  • Stopping its intake or reducing its dose will likely cause withdrawal symptoms.
  • Taking Tramadol together with alcohol or other drugs that slow the CNS and brain might stop major functions of the body, such as breathing.
  • It’s available in many forms and there are numerous means of administration. Be clear about the instructions for administration.
  • Tramadol may be abused – taken recreationally.
  • An overdose on Tramadol is possible and in the case of an overdose, one should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are treatable.