Tramadol is an opioid that is sometimes prescribed for pain relief. Also known as brand names like Ultram, ConZip and Ryzolt, tramadol is a weaker painkiller than many other opioid medications. It is also thought to be less addictive — tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV drug, meaning it has a low potential for misuse. Some people use it recreationally because it makes them feel calm and more blissful.
Tramadol can still be addictive for some people. There is a higher risk for addiction when someone uses tramadol without a prescription, takes it more often or uses higher doses than recommended. Someone who misuses tramadol may become dependent on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. The timeline for tramadol withdrawal may change slightly from person to person, but it tends to follow certain patterns.
When Does Tramadol Withdrawal Start
If someone becomes dependent on a substance, they will have withdrawal symptoms once they stop using it. Tramadol withdrawal starts when the drug leaves a person’s body. Regular tramadol tablets last about 4–6 hours in the body, while extended-release tablets can last 24 hours. Tramadol is a short-acting opioid, so withdrawal symptoms will typically start 8–24 hours after a person takes the last dose.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
People who are going through tramadol withdrawal often have symptoms that are similar to other opioid withdrawal symptoms. Side effects also tend to be mild. However, one study found that 12% of tramadol withdrawal cases included atypical symptoms, such as severe panic attacks, paranoia and hallucinations.
The timeline of tramadol withdrawal symptoms varies, but there are certain symptoms that tend to appear earlier or later during the detox process:
- First 24 hours: Withdrawal symptoms will usually begin at some point within this period. How long it takes withdrawal to begin may depend on a person’s overall health, genetics, tramadol dose and how often they were taking the drug.
- 24–72 hours: Early side effects from tramadol withdrawal often match symptoms of other opioid withdrawal syndromes. These may include anxiety, aches and pains, watery eyes, sweating and insomnia. People may also get headaches from tramadol withdrawal or have allergy-like symptoms, such as a runny nose.
- Days 4–7: Symptoms that happen later on in the opioid withdrawal process may consist of stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting. People who are experiencing some of these common withdrawal symptoms of tramadol may be able to talk to their doctor about treatment options. Medical professionals can recommend medications or treatments for symptoms of tramadol withdrawal like nausea or leg pain.
- Days 8–14: Withdrawal from short-acting opioids tends to take between four and 10 days. Many people will probably stop having symptoms of tramadol withdrawal after one week. If someone has been taking high doses of tramadol or using it once a day or more, they may be more dependent on the drug and have a longer withdrawal period.
- Beyond two weeks: Most people will no longer have acute symptoms after a couple of weeks. For some, though, the tramadol withdrawal time frame may be extended. Many people who go through opioid withdrawal have post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This condition creates symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and insomnia, for several weeks or months after drug use ends.
Like other opioids, tramadol affects opioid receptors in the brain. However, it also affects the levels of other chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. In this way, it has some effects that are similar to those of an SSRI antidepressant. Some people who withdraw from tramadol may have symptoms similar to antidepressant withdrawal, which may include flu-like symptoms, tiredness, dizziness, headache, nausea and irritability.
How Long Do Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Symptoms typically won’t last longer than 10 days, but they often disappear more quickly. Certain symptoms can be treated. For example, people can drink lots of water if they are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, as these symptoms can be dehydrating. Muscle pains or headaches may be eased with over-the-counter non-opioid painkillers.
A person going through withdrawal should also try to eat a healthy diet or take vitamins. It’s important that a person makes sure they’re getting all of the nutrients needed during the healing process. People who focus on taking care of themselves may be able to shorten the duration of tramadol withdrawal.
Factors Affecting Tramadol Withdrawal Symptom Duration
How long tramadol withdrawal symptoms last is different for each person and depends on many factors. For example, a person’s individual genetics can affect the way their body processes drugs or the way their brain chemistry works. Tramadol withdrawal length can also be affected by age, gender or physical health. Additionally, people with a personal or family history of substance misuse or mental health disorders are more likely to have problems with tramadol misuse and dependence. These factors can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety or other mental health disorders may also affect how long symptoms last or how severe they are.
Some people who use tramadol mix it with other substances like alcohol, street drugs or certain prescription medications in order to get a stronger high. Someone who frequently uses tramadol with other drugs is much more likely to have serious side effects while using tramadol. As a result, they may have a different experience with detox and withdrawal — especially if they are withdrawing from multiple substances at once.
Weaning Off Tramadol to Reduce Withdrawal
Medical professionals usually recommend that people gradually reduce their tramadol dose rather than suddenly stop taking it. People who wean off tramadol may also be able to avoid many withdrawal side effects. Another advantage is that it may help people avoid an overdose.
Once someone detoxes, their tolerance decreases. If they go back to using their previous dose, they are much more likely to overdose. Weaning off this drug will mean that a person has a longer timeline for withdrawing from tramadol, but the overall process may be more comfortable and safe. People should work with their doctors to figure out how often to reduce their dose to help ensure a safe tramadol withdrawal process.
Because tramadol is a weaker opioid, some people may be able to manage withdrawal on their own at home. However, anyone with severe or unusual symptoms should get medical help to make sure that they can detox safely. Some doctors use medications like buprenorphine-naloxone to treat tramadol withdrawal and help ease negative side effects. People who are experiencing cravings can also get help from treatment programs to make sure they can avoid temptations and learn how to change old habits.
If you think you are becoming dependent on tramadol or experience uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking it, Orlando Recovery Center can help. Call us today to learn more about getting help with detox or tramadol addiction treatment. We can help you find recovery.
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World Health Organization. “Tramadol: Update Review Report.” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, June 2014. Accessed October 24, 2019.
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