Tramadol Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Tramadol is an opioid medication primarily used for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. Unlike other narcotic painkillers, however, tramadol has antidepressant properties that enhance its pain-relieving effect.1

Like other opioid medications, using tramadol for long periods of time can result in dependence, a phenomenon in which the body becomes reliant on the drug to function normally. Those who have become dependent and wish to quit using tramadol will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to do so.1  These symptoms can be overwhelming, but medical detox can ease the pain associated with the process.

What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?

Tramadol pills

The most common side effects of tramadol include:1,2

  • Sleepiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Constipation.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Joint pain.
  • Seizures.
  • Serotonin syndrome.

Abusing tramadol may lead to severe side effects, as well as dependence (which may also occur with appropriate prescription use) and addiction. The best way to minimize these risks is to stop using tramadol.

What Are the Symptoms of Tramadol Withdrawal?

The process of detox from tramadol can be different from that of other opioid drug types. Because tramadol is a novel painkiller with both opioid activity and monoamine reuptake inhibition, the withdrawal syndrome is slightly different from that of most opioid painkillers.1, 2

Most often, tramadol symptoms are typical of the opioid withdrawal syndrome and include flu-like symptoms such as:1,2

  • Body aches and pains.
  • Insomnia.
  • Shivers and goosebumps.
  • Nausea, stomach upset, and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Restlessness.
  • Sweating.
  • Tremors.

However, in rare cases, those in withdrawal may experience symptoms atypical of opioid withdrawal, such as:1,2

  • Paranoia.
  • Severe anxiety.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Confusion.
  • Numbness or tingling of the extremities.

Neither of these withdrawal syndromes is likely to be life-threatening; however, they can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing and can derail a person’s efforts to get sober. Anxiety, panic, and other psychiatric symptoms that can result from stopping tramadol have the potential to drive the person to engage in dangerous behaviors.  

Can You Quit Tramadol Cold Turkey?

Because of the withdrawal symptoms, quitting tramadol cold turkey can be challenging for any individual. If you’re experiencing intense withdrawal symptoms and don’t have the support of professionals who know how to reduce the discomfort of opioid detox, you may end up using tramadol again.

While it is certainly possible to try to discontinue tramadol on your own, it may not be in your best interest. With help from medical professionals in a drug detox treatment program, you can get medications to relieve symptoms and you’ll be given a safe and supportive environment in which to overcome your opioid dependence.3

Timeline and Duration of Tramadol Withdrawal

The withdrawal syndrome associated with many relatively short-acting prescription opioids may be expected to follow a somewhat predictable timeline:

  • Symptoms might begin within 12-24 hours, depending on the specific drug, and peak in severity by the 3rd day.
  • Most typical opioid withdrawal symptoms will subside within 5-7 days.

Because tramadol is an atypical opioid, both the timeline and the character of withdrawal symptoms may vary slightly.4

Of course, should you undergo a tramadol taper (a gradual dose reduction), it will extend the withdrawal timeline. Depending on how swiftly you can step down your dosage, the process may take anywhere from weeks to months.5

Using Medication to Help with Tramadol Detox

Medical detox from Tramadol can help by offering professional supervision for a tapered withdrawal and by providing other forms of relief, such as nutritional support and medical treatment of some of the more severe symptoms. In addition, undergoing a detox for opioid substance abuse, in a professional treatment program can make sure the person begins some of the behavioral therapies that can lead to recovery from tramadol abuse professionals.3

Opioid withdrawal symptoms sometimes require more than just over-the-counter support. Prescription medications for the more severe symptoms can be provided by experienced addiction treatment professionals.3

Maintenance medications such as methadone or buprenorphine may also be initiated during detox to alleviate symptoms and prevent relapse. These medications can be utilized beyond detox for as long as is necessary.6

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