Laguna Treatment Hospital logo

Tramadol Addiction and Treatment Options

Tramadol is a painkiller that, like other prescription opioids, carries the risk of misuse, addiction, and overdose.1,2

In this article, you will learn more about tramadol, its effects and dangers, tramadol addiction, and tramadol addiction treatment options.

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a pain-relieving opioid prescription medication that is FDA-approved for the relief of moderate to severe pain.1 Tramadol is available as a generic and under the brand names:1

  • Conzip.
  • Ultram (discontinued).
  • Ultram ER (discontinued).

Tramadol is also available with acetaminophen, both as a generic and under the brand name Ultracet (now discontinued).1

Tramadol is a DEA Schedule IV drug, which means it has legitimate medical uses but also carries some risk of misuse and dependence.3

Tramadol misuse can mean:2

  • Using tramadol to get high.
  • Using someone else’s tramadol prescription.
  • Using tramadol in a way other than how it has been prescribed (i.e., crushing and snorting the pill or dissolving it and injecting it intravenously).

Tramadol Effects & Dangers

Side effects of tramadol include:4

  • Constipation.
  • Excessive sleepiness or somnolence.
  • Dizziness.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

Use of tramadol or other opioids also carries the risk of overdose, which may be fatal. This risk of fatal overdose is increased with misuse, as well as if someone engages in the concurrent use of additional opioids or central nervous system (CNS) depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines.5

Chronic use of tramadol can increase the risk of developing an opioid use disorder (OUD), which is the clinical term for opioid addiction.2,6

Tramadol Addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) defines an opioid use disorder (OUD) as the compulsive use of tramadol despite clinically significant negative consequences.6

Medical professionals may diagnose someone with OUD if they exhibit 2 or more of the symptoms below within a 12-month period:6

  1. Opioids are taken in larger doses or for longer than intended.
  2. Experiencing a persistent desire or making unsuccessful attempts to quit or control opioid use.
  3. Spending a lot of time on activities needed to obtain opioids, use opioids, or recover from their effects.
  4. Experiencing cravings for opioids.
  5. Opioid use leads to the failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or at home.
  6. Continuing to use opioids despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or worsened by opioid use.
  7. Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of opioid use.
  8. Recurrent opioid use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.
  9. Continued opioid use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  10. Tolerance, meaning increased doses or more frequent use of opioids is used to achieve the desired effect, or the individual experiences a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of an opioid. This criterion does not apply to people taking tramadol as prescribed.
  11. Withdrawal, meaning the person experiences specific symptoms when they reduce or stop taking opioids, or they continue taking opioids to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms. This criterion does not apply to people taking tramadol as prescribed.

The number of criteria met within this period corresponds to the severity of the patient’s OUD: 2-3 criteria indicate a mild OUD, 4-5 indicate moderate OUD, and 6 or more indicate a severe OUD.6

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person takes tramadol chronically, sudden cessation or reduction of their use can lead to experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from tramadol and most other opioids typically begins within a few hours of the last dose and can last up to 5 days.7

The severity of tramadol withdrawal symptoms depends on many variables, such as the patient’s general health, how much tramadol (and other opioids) they’ve been using, how long they’ve been using opioids, and more. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are similar to withdrawal symptoms from other opioids, which may include:2

  • Cold flashes.
  • Goosebumps.
  • Uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Severe cravings.

Tramadol Detox

While seldom life-threatening, opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, potentially leading someone to continue using the drug to avoid symptoms.6,7 Medical detox can make this process more tolerable and is often the first step in treating opioid addiction.7

The goal of any medical detox is to minimize potential harm and maximize the comfort of someone who is withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.7 This process follows specific observation and medication management protocols that are initiated based on a comprehensive evaluation of a person’s:7

  • Medical history.
  • Psychological symptoms.
  • Substance use history.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

Various medications may be used during medical detox for opioid addiction; some of the common medications that are used during opioid detox include methadone and buprenorphine. These drugs are often prescribed and administered as long-term treatments following detox as well.7,8

Non-opioid drugs used to help mitigate certain opioid withdrawal symptoms during medical detox include the blood pressure medications clonidine (prescribed off-label) and lofexidine, as well as over-the-counter medications.7,9

Medical detox—on its own—is seldom effective for someone who’s addicted to opioids to achieve long-term recovery; however, it is an important first step in a continuity of care that, if followed, can lead to sustained abstinence from illicit opioid use.

Tramadol Addiction Treatment in Orange County, CA

Laguna Treatment Hospital is a medical detox and rehab facility in Orange County, CA, that provides various options for anyone seeking treatment for tramadol addiction.

Our facility provides various levels of substance abuse treatment, including medical detox, inpatient treatment, and aftercare planning.

Call to start the admissions process or learn more about using insurance to cover the cost of addiction treatment, other payment options or what to expect in rehab.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.