Tramadol, also known as Ultram, is a synthetic opioid. A typical prescription opiate used to treat acute pain. According to statistics, tramadol prescriptions increased by 88 percent from 2008 to 2013. Unfortunately, tramadol isn’t tricky to obtain, which means more and more people abuse it.
Our bodies and brains are built to adapt and evolve, which means we’re wired to develop tolerance to addictive substances, like tramadol. However, opiates attach to the brain’s opioid receptors, changing how our body and brain function, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when people try to stop using these substances.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
Detoxing from an opioid will produce a host on unwelcome symptoms. Of course, the withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and might differ depending on the severity and length of the addiction.
Everyone experiences tramadol withdrawal differently, but most of the time, it spans for ten days to a few months. The withdrawal symptoms happen in two stages. Generally, the first stage occurs when tramadol starts leaving the system. The second stage occurs as a result of withdrawal side effects.
Initial withdrawal symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Tearing eyes
- Fast breathing
- Muscle and body aches
The late withdrawal symptoms include:
- Pupil dilatation
- Loss of appetite
- Chills and goosebumps
- Stomach pain and cramping
- Difficulties concentrating or thinking clearly
Unlike other opioids, tramadol inhibits serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake. Because of this, withdrawal symptoms are particularly unique. Most people going through withdrawal experience psychological symptoms, including:
- Intense paranoia
- High anxiety and panic
- Confusion and disorientation
- Numbness and prickling in the extremities
Tramadol Detox Timeline
Attempting to stop tramadol use by yourself can be dangerous and life-threatening. Most people experience a withdrawal process that lasts anywhere between a couple of days to a few months. Unlike other opioid withdrawal symptoms that last four days, withdrawal can last up to seven days or even weeks. Once you stop taking tramadol, you’ll enter the post-acute withdrawal stages that can look as follow.
The First 6-12 Hours
Within the first twelve hours, once someone stops taking tramadol, withdrawal symptoms are barely noticeable. In this stage, the residue is still in the system. People might experience untrained eye symptoms—flue-like symptoms, such as watery eyes, a runny nose, and overall body aches.
From Day 1 to 3
The first days without tramadol are incredibly tough. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to peak at this stage. Here’s when your body is getting rid of leftover tramadol in the system. Most people experience flu-like symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, mood swings, and anxiety. Because cravings intensify during this stage, people should consider an assisted detox program to prevent relapse.
Days 4 to 7
By the end of the first week, most of the tramadol is out of your system. By now, withdrawal symptoms decrease, but most people continue to experience some level of discomfort. Mood swings, fatigue, intestinal issues, are all present. Intense cravings continue, so on-going support is vital to prevent relapse. Finally, sleep quality starts to improve by the end of this week.
After 2 Weeks
For the next couple of weeks, people continue to experience improved sleep quality. However, mood swings and irritability are still very much present. Most physical aches disappear, but psychological problems persist. Most detox programs end after this point. However, finding the support you need to treat the underlying issues leading to your addiction is the response to long-term sobriety.
The Dangers of Withdrawal
Leaving behind addiction is supposed to be good. However, people think they can curb addiction by themselves. Trying to do this can be brutal and possibly life-threatening.
More than uncomfortable, withdrawal can be dangerous. Most people should try to quit under medical supervision, especially those with cross-addictions. Around 71% of people in emergency rooms from tramadol-related complications say they used the drug with other sedatives and painkillers.
The combination of tramadol with other substances places people at higher risk of suffering seizures. Tramadol abuse is linked to seizures, even in people with no previous history.
Besides, people with previous seizures, brain trauma, or head injuries are also at higher risk of seizures during withdrawal, which could lead to death. These are some of the reasons why anyone struggling with addiction should seek medical attention who can monitor their detox process.
Tramadol Addiction Treatment
Because withdrawal from tramadol can be so challenging, treatment often starts with detox. In most cases, specialists recommend medication-assisted treatment (MAT), to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Under the right supervision, medical professionals can introduce medications to help ease some of the discomforts. For example:
- Metoclopramide can help manage nausea and vomiting
- Clonidine could help with anxiety
- Loperamide controls diarrhea
- Ibuprophen and acetaminophen are excellent pain relievers
- Buprenorphine lessens the effects of withdrawal
Once the initial detox process ends, most addicts are encouraged to attend inpatient or outpatient drug rehab programs. There, with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family support, and other addiction treatment strategies, they can start living a clean and sober life.
Finding Long-term Care
Drug abuse isn’t a switch; people can turn on and off. Once someone becomes dependent on tramadol, they need long-term care to prevent relapse. While this doesn’t mean someone has to be in addiction treatment for the rest of their lives, they must have the strategies to deal with triggers and avoid tapering medications again. Otherwise, people are likely to become dependent on the same drug or find other outlets to manage their pain.
If you or someone you love uses drugs for recreational reasons, trying to become sober can be difficult. Generally, addiction is a long-term disease that needs assistance, encouragement, and the right structure to find recovery.
Talking to addiction specialists can help you pinpoint the issues that prompted your abuse in the first place. On many occasions, underlying mental health conditions, genetics, and environmental factors can play a role.
Addressing these issues through dual-diagnosis programs can help create a healthy environment, addicts need to find long-term recovery.
For anyone looking to stop using tramadol and stop their physical dependence, the team at Lighthouse Recovery Institute can help. Our rehab center offers detox programs, medication-assisted treatments, family therapies, and traditional treatment programs to help people fight their addictions and live a clean and sober life.
Don’t let substance abuse get in your way of living a fulfilling, healthy, and happy life. Together, we can help you find your path towards recovery and build the skills you need to stay away from tramadol and other substances.