Recognizing Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms and How to Detox

Last Updated: Jun 5th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Recognizing Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms and How to Detox

Tramadol is the generic name for an opioid drug prescribed for mild to moderately severe pain. Brand names include Ultram, Ultracet, and Zytram, among others. Although tramadol isn’t as potent as most opiates and is generally safe when used properly, misuse presents a significant risk of abuse and addiction.

When it comes to the side effects of tramadol withdrawal symptoms, they are much like heroin, oxycodone, and other opiates — meaning unpleasant and potentially dangerous. However, with treatment, you can recover from a tramadol addiction and get on the road to a healthier, substance-free life.   

Tramadol Classification 

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified most opiates, including oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl, as Schedule II substances because they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV substance, defined by the DEA as having a lower risk of abuse and addiction. Many experts believe tramadol should be reclassified to Schedule II.

Since tramadol is less potent than most opiates, people tend to underestimate the risks. However, tolerance can develop when tramadol is used in large doses or for long periods, and you’ll need higher doses to feel the same results. Tolerance often leads to full-fledged addiction, including uncomfortable tramadol withdrawal symptoms when you stop.

Can Tramadol Get You High?

Everyone is different, but most people find that tramadol side effects make them feel drowsy, possibly with a mild sense of relaxation or well-being. To reach heroin-like euphoria, you would need to take a dangerously high dose which puts you at risk for a tramadol overdose. 

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in your System?

In general, tramadol usually leaves the body within about 72 hours. However, it’s impossible to know exactly how long the drug will remain in your system because it is affected by your age, metabolism, diet, body mass, overall health, genetics, and level of physical activity.

Retention time also depends on the type of tramadol, the size of the doses, and how long you used the drug. If you have kidney or liver disease, you have excess body fat, or if you’re over 75, tramadol will take longer to clear your body. 

What About Tramadol vs. Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is an opioid pain reliever sold by familiar brand names like Oxycontin or Roxicodone. Like tramadol, it is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is safe when used properly, but it is one of the most abused drugs in America. Even though tramadol is less potent than oxycodone, both are habit-forming, and withdrawal symptoms upon stopping are similar. 

Tramadol Side Effects

Common tramadol side effects, which often go away after a few days of proper use, may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache,
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Although they are less common, tramadol users may also experience:

  • Rash
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Joint pain

Consult your physician if you experience the following tramadol withdrawal symptoms. They’re uncommon and usually not life-threatening, but they should be treated. They may also be signs of tramadol addiction.

  • Sleep disorders
  • Bloody urine
  • Chills
  • Bruising
  • Agitation
  • Nightmares
  • Menstrual problems
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle pain
  • Yawning
  • Sore throat
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hives
  • Fainting
  • Painful urination
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Inability to have or maintain an erection
  • Sores in the mouth

What are the Bad Side Effects of Tramadol?

Although serious tramadol side effects aren’t common, they can be dangerous or even fatal. If you experience any of the following side effects, call for medical attention right away:

  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Blistering, peeling skin
  • Blood clots or fluid in the lungs
  • Inflammation or failure of the liver
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Anemia
  • Hearing loss
  • Low blood sugar
  • Trouble breathing
  • Seizures

What are Tramadol Addiction Symptoms?

Most side effects in the above list are also tramadol addiction symptoms. Other indications of tramadol addiction are missing work, serious financial problems, failure to keep up with responsibilities, loss of interest in activities typically found enjoyable, changes in friends, or neglect of personal hygiene. 

Most people who use painkillers don’t set out to become addicted, but occasional misuse can easily spiral out of control. 

Tramadol and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

Tramadol and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants, which means they work by slowing down activity in the brain and nerves. By using tramadol and alcohol together, you may intensify the effects to dangerous levels. 

Effects of combining tramadol and alcohol include drowsiness, dizziness, memory problems, and loss of consciousness. Severe repercussions may consist of life-threatening symptoms such as respiratory depression, liver damage, seizures, coma, and brain damage. Mixing tramadol and alcohol also increase the risk of a tramadol overdose.

Tramadol Overdose Symptoms

Although tramadol is weaker than most painkillers, using too much can still result in an accidental overdose, seizures, coma, and death. A person who is overdosing may be short of breath, or his breathing may be slow and shallow because the body isn’t getting sufficient oxygen.

In addition to severe respiratory problems, these are also common tramadol overdose symptoms:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy skin or sweating
  • Muscle weakness

If you feel like you may be having a tramadol overdose, or if somebody you love is showing symptoms, call for immediate help. 

Recognizing Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are similar to the withdrawal symptoms of other opiates and include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable tremors 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Aching muscles
  • Cough
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating and chills
  • Anxiety
  • Sneezing
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Runny nose
  • Increased pain
  • Hallucinations or seizures (possible, but not common)

The Best Way to Detox off Tramadol: Recovery Begins With the First Step

The best way to detox from tramadol is to enter a quality drug treatment program. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are challenging, but a treatment provider will ensure you detox safely, and that you have medications to ease the discomfort. Once tramadol detox is complete, counseling, education, and group support will help you understand the reasons for your addiction and triggers for relapse. 

If tramadol use has created problems for you or a loved one, reach out as soon as possible. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at 855-425-4846 or contact us here for more information, and we’ll help you explore options for recovery and safer ways of managing pain.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.