Substance Use

Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol: What Happens?

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Tramadol and alcohol substance abuse

Many people take tramadol pain medication to relieve discomfort. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but is not as strong. Tramadol is prescribed for moderate to severe pain and is often used to treat chronic pain. Tramadol can be addictive, and when it is combined with alcohol, the risk of addiction increases.

This article will explore tramadol and alcohol abuse, including the risks and dangers of combining these two substances. We will also discuss treatment options offered by centers like Zinnia Healing that can help you or a loved one recover from tramadol and alcohol abuse.

What is tramadol, and what are its uses?

Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever. The effects of tramadol allow it to treat moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is available under the name Ultram and as a generic drug. Generic drugs are similar to the brand-name product in dosage form, safety, strength, how it works, quality, performance, and intended use. The cases in which tramadol would be prescribed include:

  • Severe pain after an injury or surgery
  • Chronic pain, such as that associated with arthritis

Tramadol reduces the brain’s perception of pain and binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which means it has a lower potential for abuse than other narcotics such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) or oxycodone (OxyContin).

How does tramadol interact with alcohol?

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down the body’s systems. Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and small intestine. Once in the bloodstream, it travels to all body parts, including the brain.

At a chemical level, alcohol binds to GABA receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that slows down the nervous system. Alcohol also binds to glutamine receptors responsible for memory and learning. By binding to these receptors, alcohol causes the brain to slow down its activity by inhibiting neurotransmitters. Furthermore, mixing alcohol with tramadol increases the effects of both substances. Tramadol is also a central nervous system depressant; when combined with alcohol, the effects are amplified.

Mixing alcohol and tramadol can lead to effects such as:

  • The liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is toxic to the body. The liver can only break down so much alcohol at a time, so drinking too much can damage or even kill liver cells.
  • A person who drinks alcohol regularly will develop a tolerance to it. This means they need more and more alcohol to feel the same effects.
  • People who drink alcohol are more likely to experience accidents and injuries than those who don’t drink. This is because alcohol impairs judgment and coordination.
  • Alcohol can also cause health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Our bodies have many automatic functions that keep us alive and functioning. The nervous system controls these functions. Since neurons in the brain cannot function quickly when exposed to both tramadol and alcohol, automatic brain processes such as respiration and heart rate can be severely slowed. A list of automated functions that may be impaired when a person mixes tramadol and alcohol includes:

  • Breathing
  • Heartbeat
  • Blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Digestion
  • Bladder control

While mixing tramadol and alcohol should be avoided altogether, people who suffer from certain medical conditions that require the neurons to be firing at normal speed may be at a higher risk for developing adverse effects. Some of these medical conditions include:

  • Sleep apnea: A condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
  • Epilepsy: A disorder characterized by recurrent seizures.
  • Asthma: A chronic lung condition characterized by wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A group of lung conditions that make it hard to breathe.
  • Heart failure: A condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.

Despite these risks, tramadol is still abused, and people who suffer from tramadol abuse may develop physical dependence or addiction. If you suspect you or someone you love is abusing tramadol, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. Visiting a treatment center like Zinnia Healing proactively can get you on the path to recovery and prevent further abuse.

How long should you wait to drink alcohol after taking tramadol?

Tramadol has a half-life of around 6 hours, which means after initial use, it will take 6 hours to reduce its potency by half. Depending on the dosage, Tramadol can therefore stay in your system for up to three days. This means that if you take tramadol on Monday, it will still be detectable in your body on Thursday, though in significantly less amounts. Due to this, it is best to wait three days after taking tramadol before consuming alcohol. If you want to drink sooner, you should speak with your doctor first. The dosage, frequency, and duration of tramadol use will be essential factors in how long it takes for the drug to leave your system.

How is tramadol and alcohol addiction treated?

Tramadol and alcohol addiction are both severe conditions that require treatment from a medical professional or addiction specialist. Treatment for tramadol and alcohol addiction often includes:

  • Detoxification: This is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of tramadol and alcohol. Detox can be done in a hospital or medical facility, where you will be monitored for withdrawal symptoms. Getting through detoxification is often the first step in addiction treatment.
  • Counseling: This can be done in an individual, group, or family setting, and it helps you to identify the root causes of your tramadol and alcohol abuse. Counseling also teaches you how to cope with triggers and cravings and how to avoid relapses in the future.
  • Medication: Some medications can help to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings during detoxification and treatment. These medications can be administered during inpatient therapy as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
  • Support groups: These groups provide peer support and encouragement during substance abuse treatment. They can help maintain sobriety after treatment is completed.
  • Behavioral therapy: This type of therapy can help increase your behavioral health by changing how you think and feel about alcohol and tramadol drug abuse. It can also help you to develop new, healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and triggers.
  • Alternative therapies: Many alternative therapies can help treat tramadol and alcohol addiction. These therapies can include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and massage. Alternative treatments aim to help you relax and heal your mind, body, and soul.

How Zinnia Healing can help

If you or someone you know is struggling with tramadol and alcohol addiction, we can help. We offer a comprehensive, integrative approach to addiction treatment at Zinnia Healing treatment center. We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to addiction, which is why we tailor our treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each of our clients. A custom treatment plan may include detoxification, counseling, medication, support groups, behavioral therapy, alternative therapies, and more. If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, we are here to help.

Contact us today at (855) 430-9439 or on our site to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you or your loved one recover from tramadol and alcohol addiction.