Tramadol Addiction & Treatment

Tramadol is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. The drug is also marketed under the brand names Ultram, Ultram ER, and Conzip, and is available in combination with the pain reliever acetaminophen under the brand name Ultracet.

Like other opioids or narcotics, tramadol carries a risk of misuse and addiction. Keep reading for more information about the potential effects and risks of tramadol use, and how to get help if you or a loved one has developed an addiction to tramadol.

What Is Tramadol Abuse?

Tramadol abuse is when someone uses the medication without a prescription or in ways other than how its prescribed (e.g., more often or in larger amounts). As an opioid painkiller or narcotic, tramadol is a federally controlled substance with a known potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction.1

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, tramadol is most often misused by patients with chronic pain or opioid addiction. It is also somewhat common among health professionals.2

Reported incidents of tramadol exposure have declined over the years, with an estimated 12,108 exposures in 2016, compared to 6,974 exposures in 2020.2

What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol Abuse?

The most common side effects of tramadol use and misuse include:

  • Nausea.
  • Dizziness.
  • Constipation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Headache.

Misuse of tramadol also increases the risk of potentially serious side effects like respiratory depression (i.e., slowed or stopped breathing), which can lead to coma and death.

What Are the Signs of Tramadol Addiction?

Doctors use a specific list of criteria to diagnose what is clinically known as an “opioid use disorder.” The signs of an addiction to opioids like tramadol include:3

  • Taking opioids in higher doses or over more time than intended.
  • Trying and failing to reduce or cutback use of opioids.
  • Spending lots of time and energy seeking and using an opioid or recovering from its effects.
  • Craving opioids.
  • Using opioids despite their interference with work, school, or home obligations.
  • Using opioids despite their negative effect on a patient’s social life or interpersonal relationships.
  • Missing important social, work-related, or recreational activities due to opioid use.
  • Using opioids in physically dangerous situations (e.g., while driving).
  • Using opioids despite their worsening effects on an existing physical or mental health condition.
  • Developing a tolerance to opioids (requiring more of the substance to feel the same effect or feeling less of the effect of the same dose).
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when reducing or stopping opioid use.

What Is Tramadol Withdrawal Like?

Although rarely life-threatening, withdrawal from an opioid like tramadol can be very uncomfortable and painful. Withdrawal occurs as a result of physical dependence, or when the body becomes so used to the presence of a drug in its system that it needs the drug to function normally.

Physical dependence develops through regular, prolonged use of a drug like tramadol, even when used as a directed by a doctor. Once dependence develops, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly stop or reduce their use of the drug.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:3

  • Anxiety and irritability.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Watery eyes and runny nose.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Goosebumps and chills.
  • Sweating.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.

Treatment for Tramadol Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addition to prescription painkillers like tramadol, professional addiction treatment can help. Treatment for an opioid use disorder may involve a combination of behavioral therapy and treatment medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, or suboxone.4

At Sunrise House Treatment Center, we offer different types of addiction treatment, which might start with medical detox followed by an inpatient stay at our drug rehab in Lafayette, New Jersey.

At Sunrise House, our medical detox program ensures comfort and safety as patients go through the withdrawal process. It also helps prepare them for more comprehensive rehab, which can address the underlying issues, thoughts, and behaviors that drive addiction.

Start the path to recovery today by calling our free, confidential helpline at to speak with one of our admissions navigators about your treatment options.

They can walk you through the rehab admissions process, rehab payment options, and using insurance to pay for rehab.

You can also easily and quickly verify your insurance coverage by filling out this .

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