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Tramadol Withdrawal

Tramadol is an opioid that is prescribed for mild-to-moderate pain symptoms stemming from chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, surgery, or injuries. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has listed it under Schedule IV in its Controlled Substances Schedule. This means that drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as having a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

In comparison, morphine is a Schedule II medication, which is defined as a drug with “a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

When someone abuses tramadol, physical dependence and addiction can occur. If the medication is stopped abruptly after heavy use, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms may be felt.

Read on to learn what tramadol withdrawal is and what to expect if you or a loved one is going through it.

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol can cause somewhat unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but the symptoms are rarely deadly. However, it can be challenging to get through tramadol withdrawal on your own. Some people might experience possibly serious complications without medical treatment.

Withdrawal symptoms can be felt after a chemical or psychological dependency of the drug occurs. Opioids are known to cause nervous system depression and pain relief.

Extended tramadol use can cause your brain to start relying on the drug’s effects to balance brain chemistry, rather than utilizing its own sedation chemicals and pain-relieving endorphins.

When someone stops taking an opioid medication suddenly, their brain chemistry is out of balance. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain and throughout the body, in particular, the bones, muscles, and intestines. This is why opioid withdrawal symptoms are felt throughout the body.

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal are often relayed as feeling like having the flu. Note, though, that the symptoms are usually more intense than the typical flu.

Symptoms may include:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Goosebumps
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Runny nose, sneezing or coughing
  • Agitation
  • Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Fast breathing
  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Panic, paranoia, or panic attacks
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations 

If someone is vomiting continually, sweating profusely, and has diarrhea, withdrawal can cause dehydration, which can be fatal if not treated. Most people in withdrawal who are dehydrated will drink water to rehydrate. 

The most effective way to manage opioid withdrawal is through a medical detox program or a hospital detox, where you will have 24-hour medical care. Detox from opioids, such as tramadol, usually lasts five to 10 days, depending on how heavily someone has used the drug.

The Tramadol Withdrawal Timeline

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms and the timeline of when they could occur differ from person to person. How long withdrawal lasts, how long until someone starts to feel the first symptoms, and the intensity of the symptoms felt depends on the following factors:

  • How long someone has been using tramadol
  • Size of the person’s usual tramadol dose
  • The format of the drug (pill, powder, or intravenous injection)
  • If that person took tramadol with other drugs
  • Size of your last dose of tramadol
  • Quitting gradually or cold turkey

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms typically begin two to three days after taking the last dose and are usually done within a week’s time, as VeryWellMind.com says. 

The website also states that most symptoms of tramadol withdrawal are going to be less intense than those that occur with other opioids, like heroin and oxycodone. Tramadol’s effects on the opioid receptors are comparatively mild, which means that it will be easier for your brain to adjust to its absence.”

Tramadol starts to work in about 60 minutes and peaks in effectiveness after three hours. Effects of the drug last roughly four to six hours before they start to fade. Sometime after six hours, flu-like symptoms will start to appear. They will start out mild and might gradually increase in intensity, depending on much of it the person has taken.

A tramadol timeline will be influenced by one’s physicality, metabolism, current drug use, and other factors. It could look something like this:

  • Within the first 24 hours: You may begin to feel symptoms six to 12 hours after the last dose. Symptoms begin for short-acting opioids like tramadol.
  • Days 1-2: Symptoms begin for long-acting opioids like oxycodone.
  • Day 3: Withdrawal symptoms should peak.
  • Up to 10 days: Withdrawal symptoms should dissipate.

How Is Tramadol Withdrawal Treated?

Tramadol withdrawal is usually not fatal; however, symptoms can be quite uncomfortable. If someone is dehydrated, has co-occurring problems, or may have an existing substance use disorder, it can make Tramadol withdrawal possibly dangerous. Therefore, the safest way to go through Tramadol withdrawal is in medical detox. 

Medical detox provides 24-hour care from medical professionals in an accredited treatment center. The person going through detox will be monitored around the clock to ensure they withdraw from  the medication safely.

After medical detox, the person and the center’s clinicians help develop the best level of care. If a severe opioid use disorder is diagnosed, the patient might need more than a week of detox to completely address the addiction. The individual’s mental or physical health issues can be addressed in medical detox also, which works to safeguard long-term sobriety.

 What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that can be challenging to overcome alone. The right help and treatment programs are the best options to achieve sustained sobriety. 

The process of withdrawal can be intimidating because of the discomforting symptoms. Those who go through medical detox experience minimal symptoms and discomfort.

People who complete medical detox may be recommended to enter a residential or outpatient treatment program that helps them develop the tools to battle addiction and avoid relapse. 

Research has shown that three months or longer are needed to treat drug addiction effectively. The longer someone says in treatment, the more they will continue to build the essential life skills that offer them a chance at achieving long-term sobriety. People in addiction treatment programs benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other approaches that support their recovery.

There is freedom from drug use and abuse when you undergo detox and addiction treatment at our accredited rehabilitation centers. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please give us a call today. We’re here to talk about the best treatment options for you.

Sources

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, January 15) MedlinePlus. Tramadol from from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695011.html#other-information

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2018, October) Diversion Control Division. Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/tramadol.pdf

VeryWellMind. (2019, July 24) How Long Does Withdrawal From Tramadol Last? Osborn O’Keefe, C, Gans, Steven MD from https://www.verywellmind.com/tramadol-withdrawal-4177612

NIDA. (2016, February 11). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction-what-science-says

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