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Tramadol Addiction Treatment and Rehab

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Last Updated - 12/29/22

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Key Takeaways

  • Despite claims to the contrary, tramadol is an opioid pain medication
  • Tramadol has the potential for addiction and abuse
  • If someone becomes addicted to tramadol, they should consider addiction treatment
  • Addiction treatment begins with medical detox and continues into treatment and maintenance
  • Choosing the right tramadol rehab facility can be difficult, but it is important

Tramadol, a prescription pain medication, has the potential for abuse and may lead to addiction. A treatment program, including detox, may be required to address Tramadol addiction.

The prescription drug tramadol (brand name Ultram) has been a topic of discussion in the last few years. The drug was originally approved in the United States in 1995 to treat pain that is severe but cannot be managed by opioid medications.

Grunenthal GmbH, a West German pharmaceutical company, originally patented and sold the drug as Tramal in 1977 in Europe.

For years, tramadol has been marketed and prescribed as an “opioid-like” medication with “opioid properties.” Considering the fact that tramadol activates the same mu-opioid receptors as all other opioid medications, this idea has since fallen out of favor.

Over the last several decades, the addiction potential of tramadol has become apparent to the medical community, and in 2014 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reclassified tramadol as a Schedule IV medication. Schedule IV medications have a recognized medical use and a low potential for addiction and abuse.

Addiction Treatment Options

Now that the addictive potential of tramadol is well recognized, treatment of tramadol addiction is included in the larger picture of opioid addiction treatment. For those addicted to tramadol, substance use disorder (SUD) treatment is shown to be an effective method to treat addiction.

Taking tramadol without a prescription or in a way that it was not prescribed is substance abuse that can lead to an addiction. Once someone enters addiction treatment, it includes three main categories: detox, treatment, and maintenance.

Medical Detox

Detoxification is the period when a drug or toxin is leaving the body. Detox for tramadol will last between 25 to 40 hours based on how long it takes the body to metabolize it. People with liver problems and adults over 65 may have a longer detox process.

Medical detox is supervised by addiction professionals such as physicians, nurses, and psychologists, who ensure that detox occurs in the safest way possible.

Medical detox is intended to make symptoms of withdrawal more comfortable and reduce cravings. It is also meant to prevent any harm that can come from withdrawal. For example, vomiting that is so intense it causes dehydration.

Residential Rehab

After medical detox, a patient is assessed for readiness to enter addiction treatment. Most patients will be strongly encouraged to continue in the program after detox.

If detox happened at a hospital or in an inpatient setting, treatment may be continued in residential rehab. Residential rehab is a facility where patients live and attend treatment, which may include individual and group therapy and skills classes. Residents in a residential facility can leave to attend work or school, but most of their day is scheduled with treatment activities.

Outpatient Rehab

Treatment can either start here for people with mild SUD or may continue for those who have finished residential rehab. Someone in outpatient rehab lives at home, and they commute to an outpatient treatment center. Treatment may be daily for intensive outpatient treatment or several times per week for people in a less restrictive program.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis treatment is the treatment of both SUD and a mental health condition at the same time. Examples of mental health disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

The symptoms of mental health disorders can look similar to symptoms of SUD or symptoms of substance withdrawal. Clinicians must be trained to separate the differences in the symptoms between substance abuse and the mental health diagnosis. Not every treatment facility has this type of treatment.

Aftercare and Sober Living

After the initial detox and treatment of addiction, the patient continues into the maintenance phase. For those with mild to severe SUD, sober living is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Evidence has shown that the longer someone stays sober and the more committed they are to treatment, the healthier they will be and the less they will experience a setback.

How Long Does Rehab Take?

Rehab for tramadol will last at least a few weeks and sometimes several months. Strong treatment programs will encourage patients to stay in treatment for at least 90 days. Research has shown that treatment must be at least this long to be effective and the longer someone stays in treatment, the better their health outcomes.

What Does Tramadol Rehab Cost?

The cost of tramadol rehab varies based on the rehab center and the type of insurance the patient carries. For pricing specifics, a person should call a rehab center directly.

Much of the time, the rehab cost is billed by the month or week and sometimes rehab centers will require a person to pay upfront.

Does Insurance Cover Rehab?

Most insurance plans will cover drug rehab treatment, but not all of them do. Someone with insurance should call the number on the back of their insurance card to learn if their plan covers addiction treatment. Other options include:

Government Assistance Programs

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a federally funded program that established government assistance for people in need. SAMHSA establishes, creates and guides substance abuse treatment in the United States. They allocate funds to Single State Agencies (SSAs), which are responsible for government assistance programs in each state.

Sliding Fee Programs

A sliding scale program has different pricing based on income. Those who make less money are generally charged less, and this helps to charge a fair amount for people with financial difficulty.

Private Pay Programs

Private facilities are usually more expensive than state-funded facilities. They may require higher monthly payments out of pocket or from a person’s insurance company. However, private facilities have the advantage of offering more services and individualized treatment programs.

Choosing a Rehab Center for Tramadol Abuse

It is not always easy to know how to choose a rehab center. To ensure someone puts their health and treatment first, they should be aware of important factors when determining their rehab location:


The facility’s location can be one of the primary deciding factors for someone choosing a rehab facility. Depending on a person’s situation, there may be an advantage to enrolling in a treatment program far from home and negative influences. Others may see a benefit in being close to friends and family.


The cost will depend on several factors like the resources of the program and whether the person has insurance that covers addiction treatment. Most treatment facilities have a specialist who will discuss cost upfront.

Methods of Treatment Provided

People with a mental health diagnosis should be especially aware of the availability of dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorder treatment.

Duration of Treatment

The immediate reaction when choosing a treatment facility may be to pick one with the shortest treatment time, but research shows this is not a good idea. Treatment programs should be at least 90 days to be the most effective. Treatment for less than 90 days may not be a great use of time or resources.

Staff-to-Patient Ratio

Before entering a treatment program, many will be able to provide information about the staff-to-patient ratio. A lower number may provide better treatment, as this means a more individualized approach to treatment.

What to Expect When You go to Rehab

Rehab is a highly structured environment without much downtime. A tight schedule and structure can be jarring for some people, but this type of structure is important to the recovery process.

Addiction professionals have been developing techniques for years and so they know what works and what does not, so following the program and rules of the program is critical.

Expect to participate in treatment, which may be uncomfortable at first. However, residents in a program are encouraged to make social connections to strengthen the process of healing.

What Happens After Rehab?

After rehab, a person may continue a scaled-down version of treatment to maintain sobriety and clean living. While clean living is important for continued remission, setbacks do happen. SUD is a chronic condition and about half of people living with one experience a setback at some point.

How Rehab Improves Recovery

Rehab helps people address their addiction. By coming to understand personal triggers and what drove their drug use, people leaving rehab are better equipped to handle the stressors of day-to-day life without resorting to drug use.

View Sources

DailyMed. “Tramadol Package Insert.” 2019. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” 2019. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Treatment and Recovery.” 2019. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.

‌National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?” 2019. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.

SAMHSA. “Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services.” 2016. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.

SAMHSA. “National Helpline.” 2019. Accessed Aug 8, 2019.