Substance Use

Tramadol Use Disorder Treatment

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Tramadol, a synthetic opioid analgesic, is commonly prescribed for the management of moderate to severe pain. While it offers significant relief for many patients, its potential for dependence and abuse cannot be overlooked. Tramadol, a man-made painkiller, is often the go-to for managing serious pain. It does wonders for many folks seeking relief, but let’s not overlook its darker side: it can hook you in. (1)

When tramadol takes center stage, and the drawbacks start to outweigh the benefits—hurting your health and straining your social life—that’s when we talk about tramadol use disorder. This isn’t just about craving a pill; it’s when using starts causing real trouble, yet stopping feels out of reach.

If you’re caught in that cycle, know that treatment looks at both the body’s tug-of-war with dependence and the mental battle with addiction.

Breaking free of substance use disorders and stopping the use of tramadol isn’t easy, but finding help and treatment programs are key to turning things around.

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Tramadol Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options

Tramadol is sold under the brand names Ultram, Ultracet, and Conzip. It is available as an immediate-release or extended-release tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet (ODT), or an oral solution. Tramadol is also available as a generic drug. The drug treats pain in adults and children at least 12 years old. (2)

Tramadol addiction is a problem for many people who use it recreationally or abuse it. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning that it has a lower potential for abuse than other opioid drugs. (3)

What Is Tramadol?

Doctors prescribe tramadol as a painkiller. Tramadol is one of the least potent opioids, so it is often prescribed for people who have pain that is not severe. While tramadol is in the same family as oxycodone and hydrocodone, it works differently than most painkillers. (4)

Tramadol is a weak μ-opioid receptor agonist and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). This means that tramadol does not attach to the same receptors in the brain as other opioids, so it does not produce the same “high” experience that leads to addiction to similar substances.

How Does Tramadol Affect the Body?

Tramadol primarily impacts the central nervous system by binding to mu-opioid receptors in the spinal cord and the brain, decreasing pain perception. Tramadol also increases the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, which are neurotransmitters that play a role in pain relief. (5)

Tramadol is a safe and effective pain medication when used correctly and in moderate dosages. However, there can be serious side effects and even death when doses of tramadol are abused.

 Here are some common effects of tramadol and tramadol misuse.

  • Sense of euphoria
  • Pain relief
  • Mellowing effect
  • Analgesia

Side Effects of Tramadol

Side effects of tramadol will depend on multiple factors, including:

  • Dosage
  • Frequency of use
  • Route of administration
  • Individual physiology

Some common side effects and warning signs associated with tramadol include: (6)

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sweating

Serious side effects associated with tramadol include:

  • Seizures
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Respiratory depression
  • Cardiac arrest from high blood pressure or increased heart rate
  • Death

Tramadol Doses and Use

Tramadol drug use can vary from person to person, depending on multiple factors, including:

  • Age of the user
  • The medical condition being treated
  • Other health conditions
  • Severity of pain
  • Tolerance of opioids
  • Method of administration

Doses of Tramadol

The most common method of tramadol administration is via oral tablets, which are available in immediate-release and extended-release formulations. The extended-release formulation is designed for around-the-clock treatment of chronic pain and is not to be used on an as-needed basis. (7)

  • The recommended starting dose for adults 18 years and older is 50 mg every four to six hours. The maximum daily dose is 400 mg per day.
  • For children between the ages of 12 and 17, the recommended starting dose is 50 mg every four to six hours for pain relief. The maximum daily dose is 300 mg per day.
  • For seniors over 65 years, the recommended starting dose is 25 mg every four to six hours as needed, with a maximum daily dose of 300 mg per day.

People with liver or kidney problems may need a lower dose of tramadol over shorter periods of time, and it is essential to start at the lowest possible dose and increase as needed and tolerated. Never take more tramadol than has been prescribed by your medical provider. (8)

Can You Take Tramadol With Other Medications?

Tramadol is commonly used in combination with other pain medications. However, there are some potential drug interactions to be aware of. Tramadol should not be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as this can lead to the potentially life-threatening condition of serotonin syndrome. (9)

Tramadol should also not be taken with other opioids, as this can increase the risk of respiratory depression, a potentially fatal condition. Before combining tramadol with drugs or alcohol, talk to a physician or your healthcare provider.

Tramadol abuse and addiction are serious problems that can lead to devastating consequences.

Is Tramadol Addictive?

Tramadol is an opioid and, as such, has a high potential for abuse and addiction. While tramadol is one of the least potent opiates, it is still possible to develop a drug addiction to it. (10)

People who abuse tramadol can develop a tolerance to the drug, which means they need to take higher doses to achieve the same effects. This can lead to physical dependence and, ultimately, addiction.

How To Recognize the Signs of Tramadol Abuse

Drug addiction is often difficult to recognize, especially in the early stages. However, there are some common signs and symptoms to look out for.

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
  • Missing work or school
  • Neglecting important responsibilities
  • Financial problems
  • Increased secrecy or deceptive behavior
  • Taking more tramadol than prescribed
  • Craving more tramadol than required
  • Tramadol dependence

The Effects of Tramadol Addiction

When tramadol is misused and abused, it can lead to several devastating consequences.

These include: (11)

  • Overdose
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Respiratory depression
  • Mood swings
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Tramadol Overdose

Suppose a user develops a tolerance to tramadol after taking it frequently. In that case, an overdose may occur if the user takes more than usual to achieve the intended result.

If an overdose does occur, the effects can have profound long-term implications on someone’s health.

Here are some tramadol overdose symptoms.

  • Seizures
  • Hypertension
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Tachycardia
  • Coma
  • Agitation
  • Cardiovascular disruption
  • Respiratory failure
  • Neurological toxicity

How To Get Help for Tramadol Addiction

If you know someone struggling with tramadol abuse or addiction, help is available. Here are some steps you can expect when seeking help from treatment centers like Zinnia Health.

  1. Admissions: The admissions process usually involves a physical and psychological examination to assess your individual needs. The first step is a phone call, where our team of experts will ask baseline questions to better understand the treatment options required. The next step is an inpatient discussion and onboarding.
  2. Detoxification: Detoxification happens by removing toxins from the body. This is usually done through a supervised medical detox, which will help minimize withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification is one of the most challenging parts of recovery, but it is also one of the most important.
  3. Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation is one of the most effective ways to recover from tramadol addiction, and it involves a structured program of detoxification, counseling, and therapy. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to rehab, so rehab centers make customized programs based on each patient’s needs.
  4. Aftercare: Healing is a lifelong journey, and addiction is a chronic disease. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid plan in place for aftercare. Aftercare usually includes things like counseling, support groups, and 12-step programs. (12)

What Happens During Detox From Tramadol Addiction

Detoxification is one of the most challenging parts of recovery and is not to be taken lightly. The removal of the toxins from your body can be painful and lead to several uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

That’s why it’s important to detox under the supervision of a medical professional. There are two primary detox methods: inpatient and outpatient detox. (13)

Inpatient detoxification is usually done in a hospital or treatment center. You will be closely monitored by medical staff during the detox process and provided with medication to help alleviate some withdrawal symptoms. This is the preferred choice for someone with severe addiction or who lacks a support system at home.

Outpatient detoxification is a less intensive form of detoxification and is often done as a first step in treatment. Medical staff will still monitor you, but you will not be under constant supervision. This option is best for someone with a milder addiction and a strong support system at home.

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

During detox, withdrawal is a normal and expected process. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually peak within the first few days of detox.

The most common tramadol withdrawal symptoms include: (14)

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms

These symptoms can be uncomfortable, but they are not life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms usually resolve within a week, but some may linger for longer.

Medications for Tramadol Addiction Treatment 

In extreme withdrawal cases, medications may be necessary to help manage the withdrawal symptoms of opioids. (15)

The most common medications used in tramadol addiction treatment include: 

  • Anxiety medication can help to relieve some of the anxiety and stress associated with tramadol withdrawal.
  • Sleep aids can help improve sleep during detox and withdrawal.
  • Muscle relaxants can help to ease some of the muscle aches and pains associated with withdrawal.
  • Pain medication can help to alleviate some of the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
  • Anti-nausea medication can help relieve some nausea and vomiting associated with withdrawal.

Therapy Options for Tramadol Addiction Treatment

There are many therapy options available for you or your loved ones to overcome tramadol addiction, including: (16)

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps patients identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their tramadol abuse. CBT is an effective treatment for tramadol addiction and mental health and can be done in an individual or group setting.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy(DBT) is similar to CBT but also focuses on teaching patients how to deal with difficult emotions. Some exercises used in DBT include mindfulness and distress tolerance.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI) is a non-confrontational approach that allows patients to explore their ambivalence about change.
  • Group therapy sessions are common in tramadol addiction treatment. These sessions support and enable patients to share their experiences with others going through similar things. Group therapy is very common in substance abuse treatment centers and can be very helpful in recovery.
  • Individual therapy is also common in tramadol addiction treatment. These sessions allow you to work one-on-one with a therapist on the issues contributing to your tramadol abuse. Individual therapy can be beneficial in addressing underlying issues and developing healthy coping mechanisms.

Aftercare Therapies for Tramadol Recovery

Addiction is a lifelong journey, and Zinnia Health is there to help you every step of the way. After you leave treatment, several aftercare therapies can help you maintain your sobriety and live a happy life. Some of the most common aftercare therapies for tramadol recovery include:

  • 12-step programs: Twelve-step programs are a very popular form of aftercare. These programs provide support and fellowship for people in recovery. There are several 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, for those who suffer from drug abuse.
  • Sober living houses: Sober living houses are places where people in recovery can live in a sober environment. These houses typically have rules and regulations that residents must follow, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol and following a curfew.
  • Support groups: Support groups are a great way to connect with others in recovery. These groups allow people to share their experiences and support one another.

Overcoming Tramadol Addiction

Addiction is one of the most challenging things a person can go through, but it is possible to overcome tramadol addiction with the help of treatment. Treatment for tramadol addiction should be tailored to your specific needs and include a combination of therapies and other services.

If you or someone you know is struggling with tramadol addiction, please reach out to Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439, and our team of professionals will do everything we can to ensure you get the support and treatment you need.


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(855) 430-9439
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