Tramadol Withdrawal: Symptoms & Detox

Tramadol withdrawal doesn’t have to be excruciating. Medical detox and medication-assisted treatment can help.

Tramadol is an opioid pain medication that’s touted as less-addictive than other opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin. But tramadol addiction and dependence are common, and recovering almost always requires professional help, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Tramadol detox is the first step in treatment and treats tramadol withdrawal to reduce discomfort and increase safety. Detox ends the physical dependence on tramadol.

How Dependence Develops

Dependence is one of the long term effects of tramadol abuse and is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that set in when you stop using a psychoactive substance. Dependence develops as the result of the brain changing the way it functions in order to compensate for the presence of a drug. As the brain compensates, tolerance develops. This means that you need increasingly larger doses of tramadol to get the desired effects. But as you take more tramadol, the brain continues to change its operation in an attempt to normalize function. At some point, brain function may shift so that it now operates more comfortably when tramadol is present than when it’s not. Then, when you stop using tramadol, normal brain function rebounds, and this causes the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can be excruciating. Not everyone will experience all of the possible withdrawal symptoms, and symptoms may range from mild to severe. The severity of withdrawal depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Your age.
  • How much tramadol is in your system at the time of detox.
  • The severity of your dependence.
  • Your biology and genes.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with tramadol include:

  • Runny nose.
  • Cold and hot sweats.
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Body aches.
  • Agitation and restlessness.
  • Cravings.

These symptoms usually last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or more. Cravings are the one withdrawal symptom that can persist for several months or even longer.

Tramadol Detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment

There are two options for ending tramadol dependence: Medical detox and medication-assisted treatment.

Medical detox involves administering a variety of medications as needed to reduce the intensity of tramadol withdrawal symptoms. During medical detox, the goal is to make you as comfortable as possible. Some detox programs offer complementary treatments like acupuncture, massage, or restorative yoga to help improve wellbeing during detox.

Medication-assisted treatment is different than medical detox. Medication-assisted treatment involves medications that prevent tramadol withdrawal, reduce cravings, and help to normalize brain function. Because long term effects of tramadol can lead to problems with judgment and decision making, medication-assisted treatment can help improve cognitive function. Additionally, since tramadol cravings can drive you to distraction, medications that block cravings can help people focus on recovery, maintain employment, and reduce the risk of relapse.

The medications used in medication-assisted treatment include methadone, which must be obtained daily from a licensed clinic; buprenorphine, which can be prescribed and taken at home; and naltrexone, which can be taken in pill form or administered as a monthly injection.

Detox is Not Addiction Treatment

Tramadol detox and the medications used during medication-assisted treatment do very little to treat the addiction, which is far more complex than dependence. Addiction is the result of brain changes that lead to compulsive drug use and dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. These must be addressed for successful recovery.

By its very nature–and by law–medication-assisted treatment has a counseling component that addresses the addiction. And during medical detox, providers develop a comprehensive treatment plan that will help address the addiction once detox is complete.

A combination of traditional and complementary therapies offers a holistic approach to addiction treatment that addresses issues of body, mind, and spirit for whole-person healing. These therapies help people in treatment:

  • Identify and change harmful thought and behavior patterns.
  • Develop essential coping skills for handling stress, cravings, negative emotions, and other triggers.
  • Address the underlying issues behind the addiction, which often include stress, trauma, and mental illness.
  • Repair damaged relationships and develop healthy relationship skills.
  • Learn to have fun and relax without tramadol.
  • Find purpose and meaning in a life of abstinence.

Addiction treatment works for most people who engage with their treatment plan. Through rehab, many people end an addiction to tramadol and other opioids and go on to live a happy, productive life for the long-haul.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.