Withdrawal symptoms related to tramadol typically onset about 12 hours after the last usage. These will peak in number and severity within 2-3 days after the previous dose then subside after about one week. Tramadol is an opioid available by prescription only. It is indicated for the treatment of acute moderate-severe pain.
Withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Pupil dilation
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches and pain
Tramadol (e.g., brand name Ultram) can be identified in the body using the following drug screens:
- Urine, which can detect tramadol within two hours of use and for up to 40 hours
- Blood and saliva, both of which can typically detect use for about 24 hours.
- Hair follicles, which can find the presence of tramadol for up to 90 days, possibly longer
The process of tramadol elimination starts in the liver and has a half-life of approximately 5-6 hours. A substance’s half-life is the amount of time it takes for a person’s system to purge half of the ingested substance.
Individual factors can impact how long tramadol and its metabolites stay in the system, including the following:
- Hydration levels
- Average amount used
- Duration of use
How Is Tramadol Used?
Like other opioids, tramadol works in the brain and body by attaching to and stimulating opioid receptors. When tramadol binds to certain receptors, an individual’s perception of pain is reduced, and, as a result, they will experience pain relief.
Tramadol is also a monoamine reuptake inhibitor (MAOI) anti-depressant that increases the bioavailability of certain essential body chemicals. These include serotonin, which is vital for feelings of pleasure, reward, and well-being. This effect is believed to contribute to its effectiveness as a pain reliever.
The effects of immediate-release (IR) tramadol will last for about 4–6 hours. Extended-release (ER) tramadol can produce effects that last for between 12-24 hours.
How Is Tramadol Abused?
When taken as directed by a health provider, tramadol is a relatively safe and effective medication to help individuals experiencing pain. Abuse of tramadol, however, can increase the risk of drug dependence, tolerance, and addiction.
The recreational or non-medical use or abuse of tramadol is dangerous and can lead to an overdose. Abuse includes using tramadol more frequently, in higher amounts, or for longer than prescribed. It also includes tampering with tramadol’s form, such as by crushing pills and snorting the remaining residue.
Tramadol is also commonly a product of drug diversion. Moreover, an individual may receive (buy, gifted, or steal) the drug from friends or family and misuse it without a prescription. It may also be purchased and sold on the dark web or the black market.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes a warning label on the packaging for tramadol-based products. It states that it has a potential for abuse and that this medication can cause dependence. There is an increased risk of this occurring among individuals with a history of substance abuse.
Among the most dangerous risks of tramadol, abuse is overdose, which can be lethal. Tramadol overdose symptoms can include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed heart rate
- Cardiac arrest
- Depressed breathing
- Cold and clammy skin
- Bluish tinted skin (cyanosis)
- Severe drowsiness
- Stupor and unresponsiveness
The likelihood of a fatal overdose is increased if tramadol is used in combination with other intoxicating and depressant substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids. An overdose is a medical emergency, and if you witness signs and symptoms of an overdose in yourself or another person, you are urged to call 911 immediately.
Getting Help for Tramadol Abuse or Addiction
Professionally monitored detox can be beneficial for those with tramadol dependence. In a supervised clinical environment, the individual undergoing withdrawal is monitored for potential health complications and can receive emotional support. In addition, medication-assisted treatment to reduce the number and intensity of withdrawal symptoms can be provided.
Fortunately, many health-based professional programs are available to help those in need navigate the addiction recovery process. Just Believe Recovery is a specialized addiction facility that offers treatment in both partial-hospitalization and residential formats.
Treatment features psychotherapy, counseling, and group support, including medication-assisted treatment. We also offer substance abuse education, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning, among other beneficial services.
Comorbid conditions, such as mental health disorders or chronic pain can also be addressed through an intensive rehab program. This integrated treatment is essential to decreasing the likelihood of relapse and improve an individual’s physical and mental well-being.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery’s team of compassionate addiction specialists is committed to ensuring that each individual we treat receives the tools, education, and support they need to recover from substance abuse and addiction. We believe that every person deserves a chance to reclaim a healthy and fulfilling life.