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Tramadol Detox Guide: Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Tramadol (Conzip, Qdolo) is a prescription opioid medicine that treats moderate to moderately severe pain.3 Tramadol is a schedule IV drug, which means it has less risk of dependence than other opioid drugs, most of which are schedule II narcotics.3,8 Even so, tramadol may have a similar or somewhat greater risk of prolonged opioid use compared to other opioids.3,8 Long-term tramadol use, even when taken as directed, can lead to dependence, especially when used or misused at higher doses .4 When you are dependent on a drug, it means you will feel withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it or greatly reduce your dose.11

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol side effects, as well as withdrawal, can sometimes be different from other opioid drugs, because unlike other opioids, it also has some antidepressant properties as well.3 In most cases, tramadol withdrawal symptoms follow the classic opioid withdrawal syndrome. These symptoms include:5,6

  • Sleep problems (insomnia).
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) and vomiting.
  • Feeling irritable and restless.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Fever and sweating.
  • Chills and goosebumps.
  • Enlarged (dilated) pupils.
  • Drug craving.

In rare cases (roughly 1 in 10 people) when tramadol withdrawal differs from classic opioid withdrawal, symptoms can instead include:3

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there).
  • Paranoia (extreme distrust of others).
  • Confusion.
  • Tingling or numb feeling in arms and legs.
  • Extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

These withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening, but they can be very uncomfortable. This can make it tempting to start using opioids again (relapse) to ease these symptoms.5 When you take tramadol with a doctor’s guidance, they may  give you a tapering plan to minimize withdrawal symptoms.3 But if you’re having a hard time quitting tramadol or other opioids, don’t lose hope. There are many safe and effective treatment options

How Long Does Tramadol Withdrawal Last?

The withdrawal timeline for tramadol or other opioids can be somewhat different for everyone. How soon withdrawal starts, how long it lasts, and how bad the symptoms are depends on:3,14

  • How much tramadol or other opioids you take.
  • How long you have been taking it.
  • How often you take it.
  • Your age and other biological factors.
  • If you have other physical or mental health issues.
  • If you use other substances (polydrug use).
  • Which formula you take—extended-release or immediate-release.

In general, tramadol withdrawal symptoms start 8 to 24 hours after the last dose.15 Symptoms tend to peak (be at their worst) over the next 1 to 3 days before slowly getting better.15 Total withdrawal may last between 7 and 10 days.15

How to Cope with Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Though often very intense, in most cases tramadol and other opioid withdrawal is not life-threatening.9 Medical detox can help keep you as safe and comfortable as possible while easing distressing symptoms.9 In a medical setting, detox from tramadol and other opioids aims to:9

  • Reduce the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Reduce relapse and overdose risk.
  • Offer referrals to continued treatment, which can include rehab, support groups, and behavioral therapy.

Opioid Withdrawal Medicines

During detox, your care team may give you medicines to reduce drug cravings and ease distressing withdrawal symptoms.14,15 These medicines include:11,12,14,15

  • Methadone or buprenorphine. Both of these medicines ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Some patients keep taking one of these medicines after detox as part of their long-term recovery from opioid use disorder.
  • Clonidine, which helps treat anxiety, cramps, and sweating.
  • Lofexidine, which helps with insomnia, stomach cramps, and muscle pain.

Can Tramadol Withdrawal Be Dangerous?

It is a good idea to talk to a doctor before trying to quit tramadol or other opioids on your own.9 Trying to detox from tramadol without any medical supervision can increase your risk of relapse.9 Your risk of overdose increases as well, because detox reduces your tolerance, which means you can easily overdose on a smaller dose than you took before.11

Your care team can help you assess your withdrawal risks, as well as help you find a detox program that can keep you safe, comfortable, and meet your recovery needs.

Finding Tramadol Detox Treatment

Supervised medical detox can help you manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms while keeping you safe. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of detox and addiction treatment, with centers throughout the United States. If you need help choosing a treatment center for you or your loved one, call us today at . Our compassionate admissions navigators are standing by to support you every step of the way.

Sources

  1. Dhesi, M., Maldonado, K. A. & Maani, C. V. (2021, May 25). Tramadol. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, November 15). Tramadol.
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020, March). Tramadol.
  4. World Health Organization. (2014, June 16-20). Tramadol: Update review report.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  6. Food and Drug Administration. (2010). Tramadol hydrochloride extended-release capsules.
  7. Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2009). Tramadol: Seizures, serotonin syndrome, and coadministered antidepressants. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 6(4), 17–21.
  8. Thiels, C. A., Habermann, E. B., Hooten, W. M., Jeffery, M. M. (2019). Chronic use of tramadol after acute pain episode. BMJ 2019;365:l1849.
  9. Providers Clinical Support System. (2021, June 11). Medically supervised withdrawal (detoxification) from opioids.
  10. Shah, M. & Huecker, M. R. (2021, May 21). Opioid withdrawal. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.
  11. S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, May 10). Opiate and opioid withdrawal: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus.
  12. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, June). How do medications to treat opioid use disorder work?
  13. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021, June). National survey of substance abuse treatment services (N-SSATS): 2020.
  14. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45: Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
  15. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Services Administration. (2020). TIP 63: Medications for opioid use disorder.
  16. World Health Organization. (2021, August 4). Opioid overdose.
  17. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018, August 15). Lofexidine.
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