Tramadol Withdrawal

in Addiction
Published Dec 10, 2020
Tramadol withdrawal

Tramadol is a medication used to treat pain. It is, however, a controlled substance and carries the risk of misuse. Tramadol also contains boxed warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration about its possible dangerous effects. Stopping taking this medication could lead to withdrawal symptoms. 

What is tramadol?

Tramadol is the generic name for a brand drug called Ultram which is used for the relief of pain. It is available as a capsule, taken orally, in both immediate and extended release forms. Tramadol belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid agonists, which binds to the opioid receptors in the brain decreasing the amount of pain felt in the body. 

Side effects of tramadol

Common side effects of tramadol use include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness

More serious side effects requiring immediate medical attention include:

  • Serious breathing problems, such as slowed or shallow breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Long-lasting tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping the medication

Tramadol interactions

Taking tramadol with some medications may increase their strength, including:  

  • Medications for depression (due to the risk of serotonin syndrome), including prescribed medication and the supplement St. John’s wort
  • Headache/migraine medication
  • Hypnotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Anaesthesia drugs
  • Opioid medications
  • Digoxin
  • Warfarin
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal drugs
  • Heart rhythm drugs

Taking tramadol with alcohol or cannabis may make you feel more drowsy and affect your mental alertness. It is therefore not recommended that you take tramadol with either alcohol or marijuana. 

Tramadol may not be a suitable medication if you or your family have a medical history that includes brain disorders, or breathing problems, mental health disorders, substance use disorders, sleep apnea, kidney or liver disease, stomach or intestinal problems, urinary issues, or disease of the gallbladder or pancreas.

Tramadol warnings

Further to its interactions with other drugs, there are additional risks associated with taking tramadol. As such, the FDA have issued several boxed warnings for the medication. These alert doctors and patients that its effects may be dangerous. In particular, the FDA warn of the following risks:

  • misuse and addiction
  • slowed or stopped breathing 
  • Potential to cause death especially in children
  • Interactions with certain drugs (see tramadol interactions, above)
Risks of Tramadol in pregnancy

Tramadol is known as a category C pregnancy medication, meaning it has been shown in animal studies that taking the medication has adverse effects on the fetus. However, as there have not been enough studies conducted in humans, doctors cannot be certain how it may affect the fetus. It is advised that patients discuss and evaluate the risks of taking this medication in consultation with their physician. Mothers who decide to take it may cause neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. It is not recommended that mothers taking this medication breastfeed.

Tramadol withdrawal

Suddenly stopping tramadol may cause withdrawal symptoms, especially if you have been taking it for a prolonged period of time. It is likely your physician will recommend tapering off this medication slowly. However, if you have been using larger amounts or are worried that you might be addicted to the medication, you may experience withdrawal. 

Withdrawal symptoms of tramadol

Withdrawal symptoms of tramadol include:

  • Restlessness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Changes to mood: anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
Coping and relief from withdrawal

Detox is a crucial first step when stopping addictive medications such as tramadol. In fact, it is recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

“For alcohol, sedative-hypnotic, and opioid withdrawal syndromes, hospitalization or some form of 24-hour medical care is generally the preferred setting for detoxification, based upon principles of safety and humanitarian concerns.”

– SAMHSA Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment Improvement Protocol, TIP 45

If you, or your loved one is struggling with opioids and don’t know how to, or can’t stop, call us to see how we can help. 

At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we bring compassion to the commotion. Peace to the pain. Empowerment to the powerless. If you or someone you know needs support with addiction problems, bring us your battle. Call us today and take the best, first step towards recovery: 720-704-1432