Tramadol–sold under brand name of Ultram–is a prescription medication that is used to treat mild-to-acute pain and depression. A non-narcotic, Tramadol is less potent than other opiate-based painkillers such as oxycodone and sometimes seen as a “safer option” to manage pain. Because Tramadol is a classified as a schedule IV controlled substance, the medication is less regulated than other prescription painkillers and often easier to obtain.
However, tramadol can become addictive and can lead to serious consequences if abused, including withdrawal symptoms. Tramadol’s psychoactive effects, which alleviate mild depression, can also contribute to dependence and addiction. People abuse tramadol for its euphoric effects at high doses, but they can risk seizures and other life-threatening outcomes.
The Risks of Stopping Tramadol Cold Turkey
Tramadol can become highly addictive when abused, and many heavy users struggle to quit. However, stopping the use of tramadol abruptly–known as going cold turkey–can lead to permanent organ damage and even death in the most serious cases. For most dependant users, tramadol withdrawal is a painful process. Symptoms include hot-cold sweats, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. However, with the help of medical professionals, people addicted to tramadol can get the help they need at a detox or drug rehab facility and experience the withdrawal process as safely and painlessly as possible.
Is Tramadol Safer Than Other Opioid Medications?
Tramadol is not considered narcotic, which can give users a false sense of security. While tramadol is weaker than other drugs of its kind, it still an opioid-based medication and tramadol withdrawal symptoms can be similar to that of oxycodone. If abused at high doses, tramadol is just as addictive and can have the same intense side effects of other abused painkillers.
Tramadol Abuse Can Lead to Serotonin Syndrome
One of the biggest dangers of tramadol abuse is serotonin syndrome. Tramadol increases serotonin levels in the brain promoting a feeling of well-being, which is why this painkiller is also used to treat depression. The syndrome causes a person’s serotonin levels to spike and can be fatal if not treated by a medical professional. Other symptoms include high body temperature, increased reflexes, agitation, tremoring, sweating, dilated pupils, and diarrhea.
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Common Tramadol Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of withdrawal can be torturous. Initially, heavy users experience runny nose, sweating, fast breathing, insomnia, anxiety and hypertension. The later withdrawal symptoms, however, are more severe. These symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, and cravings to depression and depersonalization,
Medical professional recommend an addicted person who wishes to stop using tramadol seek treatment at detox or drug rehab. There, a user can experience the withdrawal process in a safe and controlled environment.
Tramadol does not affect the brain in the same way as other opioid drug such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. For this reason, tramadol’s withdrawal process differs from most other opioids. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Muscle pain
- Tingling sensations
Tramadol Withdrawal Timeline
First Look at Tramadol Withdrawal Timeline
There is not any specific timeline of tramadol withdrawal; it varies from person to person. Depending on the duration of drug use and abuse, the amount taken, and the person’s specific body chemistry will determine how intense and how long these symptoms will endure. The best place to go so that one can determine how long withdrawal symptoms may take to subside is by being admitted into a drug detox center. What is also known about tramadol detox withdrawal is that some of the psychological symptoms may ensue long after the physical symptoms have passed. For more information on what the withdrawal timeline will be like for you, please consult a medical professional.
The manner in which the user consumed tramadol also will determine how severe the withdrawal timeline will be. Someone who took tramadol as directed and prescribed will be less likely to be dependent as someone who snorted, took multiple of, smoked, or injected it. Combining tramadol with other substances, such as alcohol, other pills, and so on, can increase the painful risk factors of dependence and withdrawal once the user has stopped using tramadol.
Tramadol Detox and Treatment
How to Safely Withdrawal from Tramadol
If heavy users stop taking tramadol abruptly, they risk having serious and potentially life-threatening side-effects including brain damage and organ failure. The safest way to withdrawl from tramadol is to gradually reduce the dose. This process is known as a taper. At a detox or treatment center, medical professionals can supervise a taper, allowing users to safely withdrawal and prevent a relapse. It’s important that people addicted to tramadol are honest about the amount and duration of their drug use so medical professionals can properly implement the taper.
There are several medications used in detox to ease the withdrawal process. These medications are optional.
- Methadone: This long acting opioid blocker has a half-life of 30 hours and is a widely used substitute for an opioid. It not only stays in the user’s system longer than tramadol, but it can put withdrawal symptoms at bay. However, methadone is still an opioid with a potential for dependency. It should be used only in detox and with medical supervision.
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone): Also a long-acting opioid blocker, this medication can aid in the minimization of opioid withdrawal symptoms and it should not cause a person to feel “high” at all. If a person abuses this drug, a plateau effect may ensue, causing the drug to no longer work. Buprenorphine containing naloxone may prevent relapse as well.
Continue Treatment after Detox
The best measures to take for successful recovery from an addiction to tramadol or other substances is to attend drug treatment following detox.There are many types of treatment programs including faith-based, gender specific and dual diagnosis options.
- Inpatient Treatment: An inpatient stay is the best option for anyone struggling with substance abuse. This type of treatment includes lodging, food, recovery group sessions, counseling, curfews, and an overall structured environment that can get someone struggling back into a structured daily routine. Inpatient treatment can go from 30 days to a year, depending on the treatment plan and what is needed for each client.
- Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient involves the same as inpatient minus the lodging and food. Medical treatment is the same level of availability, but the client has to come to each scheduled appointment. Outpatient treatment can go from 30 days to 18 months or longer.