Tramadol is a pain medication that is commonly given to people with ongoing moderate or moderately severe pain. Due to its opioid-like effects, when tramadol is used inappropriately or other than intended, it can be addictive. If a person becomes addicted to tramadol, they may experience tramadol withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Tramadol detox treatment can aid in the withdrawal process and it makes it more comfortable for the person going through it.
What Causes Tramadol Withdrawal?
Tramadol withdrawal occurs when a person becomes dependent on tramadol and relies on it to feel normal. When this happens, their body has adjusted to the drug constantly being present and no longer knows how to function normally in the absence of the drug. If a person who is dependent on tramadol suddenly stops using it, they will most likely go through withdrawal.
A person who uses tramadol according to their prescription and not exceeding the daily dose recommendation is unlikely to experience the symptoms of withdrawal that a person abusing tramadol would feel.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and sometimes detrimental to a person’s health. For these reasons, it is advised to undergo tramadol withdrawal under the supervision of a medical professional. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Some physical tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle pain
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased blood pressure, respiratory rate or heart rate
The physical withdrawal symptoms associated with tramadol withdrawal are sometimes referred to as a tramadol hangover.
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
These types of withdrawal symptoms are less common than the physical symptoms and occur in only about 10% of cases.
Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), also known as protracted withdrawal symptoms, occurs when a person experiences long-term withdrawal symptoms after stopping tramadol use. These effects usually only occur in people who have used tramadol chronically and in very large doses. The symptoms are typically psychological rather than physical and can include feeling weak or fatigued, having intense cravings to use tramadol, depression, anxiety, insomnia and increased sensitivity to pain.
Can Tramadol Withdrawal Kill You?
While withdrawal from tramadol can be painful and challenging, the chance of death from withdrawal is unlikely. Tramadol deaths are more likely to be associated with an overdose. Going through the withdrawal process, though uncomfortable, will lead to a healthier lifestyle in the end.
How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?
The half-life of tramadol is six hours, meaning that half of the original dose of tramadol that is taken will remain six hours later. The tramadol schedule to peak concentration depends on the type of tramadol that is used. The extended-release form takes 12 hours to reach its peak, while the immediate-release form takes only 1.6 to 1.9 hours.
The tramadol withdrawal timeline will depend on how long it has been since the person last took the drug since withdrawal occurs as a reaction to the absence of the drug in a person’s system. The first signs of withdrawal will usually occur within a day of stopping use, given the short half-life of the drug. The full withdrawal process can take anywhere from ten days to several weeks.
Factors Affecting Tramadol Withdrawal Duration
How long do tramadol withdrawal symptoms last? The answer depends on a variety of factors. The level of dependency is a major contributor to how long the withdrawal symptoms will last. People who have used tramadol for longer and at larger doses have a harder time overcoming the withdrawal symptoms. The manner in which it is taken can also play into the length of the withdrawal process. A person who misuses tramadol by injecting or snorting it will take longer to recover than a person who takes it as recommended.
Tramadol withdrawal after short term use is unlikely to occur. Tramadol withdrawal is usually associated with extended abuse of the medication, where the person has become dependent on the drug to feel normal.
Tramadol Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal
Tramadol detox can help a person go through the tramadol withdrawal process. The goal of detox is to minimize harm to the person as their body adjusts to the absence of the drug. Ways to clean your body from tramadol vary based on individual needs.
Medical detox involves taking medication to lessen the withdrawal symptoms and make them more bearable. This is usually done in an inpatient setting, where the person can have 24-hour access to care when they need it. Two common questions related to medical detox for tramadol are:
- What should be taken for tramadol withdrawals? Tramadol withdrawal can be medically treated with buprenorphine/naloxone, which acts on opioid receptors to activate them while simultaneously preventing them from becoming too activated. This process lessens the euphoric effect from the drug, making it less desirable and easier to quit using. Other medications may also be used to lessen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
- What are the alternative treatments for tramadol withdrawal? Instead of using other medications to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal, another course of action would be to taper the use of tramadol gradually, until the person is no longer using it.
Outpatient detox involves regular visits to a therapist or counselor who will monitor their progress and help keep them on track to recovery. People choosing outpatient detox may also receive medical help through the detox process but will not have the 24-hour care and access to professional help that an inpatient detox program has.
Undertaking Tramadol detox treatment at home may seem like an appealing option because the person can be comfortable in a familiar place. However, detoxing at home is difficult and requires extreme self-control. A couple of factors to consider about detoxing at home are:
- Risks of abrupt discontinuation: Stopping tramadol use abruptly can be dangerous because the person is likely to experience severe effects of withdrawal. These effects may be unbearable and hard to deal with in the absence of medical help. Oftentimes a person experiencing these severe withdrawal symptoms will resort to tramadol use to relieve the symptoms.
- Controlled Taper: A tip for dealing with tramadol withdrawal is to do a controlled taper. This process is when a person gradually uses less and less of a drug until they are no longer using any. A controlled taper can lessen the effects of withdrawal by slowly changing its presence in a person’s system. However, this can be very difficult to do at home, as a person will have to control the urge to continue using more of the drug. Controlled tapers are more successful in an inpatient setting.
Tips for Finding a Detox Center
It is important to find a detox center that fits your needs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a national helpline that can help a person who needs immediate assistance. They also have an online treatment locator that can help people treatment options.
Our Drug Detox Center
The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health
4905 Lantana Rd
Lake Worth, FL 33463
Key Points: Understanding Tramadol Withdrawal and Detox
Some key points to remember about tramadol withdrawal and tramadol detox are:
- Tramadol withdrawal occurs after a person becomes dependent on tramadol and is unlikely to occur from normal use
- Tramadol withdrawal can be uncomfortable and is best done with the help of a medical professional
- Tramadol detox in a controlled manner will help ease the withdrawal symptoms and increase the chance of a person remaining free of tramadol use
- Detoxing from tramadol at home is risky because the desire to continue substance use can be strong
Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health today to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help you.
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Cupples, Nicole; Moore, Troy. “A case of tramadol dependence and successful treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone.” Mental Health Clinician, December 2013. Accessed July 26, 2019.
McCarty, D.; Braude, L.; Lyman, D.R.; Dougherty, R.H.; Daniels, A.S.; Ghose, S.S.; Delphin-Rittmon, M.E. “Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence.” Psychiatric Services, June 1, 2014. Accessed July 26, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.