January 8, 2024

Tramadol Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

A woman sits in thought, asking herself, "Can you get addicted to tramadol?"

Tramadol is a pain-relieving medication categorized as an opioid that is prescribed for managing moderate pain. Although it is less likely to trigger dependence than other opioids, tramadol addiction risk may lead some people to become addicted to the medication. Read on to discover:

  • Is tramadol habit forming?
  • How addictive is tramadol?
  • How to connect with treatment for tramadol abuse.

Is Tramadol Addictive?

Tramadol has the potential for addiction. Although this is more likely to occur as a result of misuse, opioid addiction may develop even when someone uses tramadol as directed by a physician. 

The risk of addiction increases over time as the body can develop tolerance, meaning that higher doses are required to maintain the same level of pain relief. Increasing the dosage or frequency of dosage accelerates the development of tramadol dependence. When someone who is dependent on tramadol suddenly discontinues use, withdrawal symptoms may manifest, presenting as emotional changes like irritability or depression, as well as physical signs similar to the symptoms of flu.

Developing tolerance and experiencing withdrawal are indicative of tramadol dependence. Addiction itself is a multifaceted condition caused by genetics, social dynamics, and environmental factors.

Signs of Tramadol Addiction

Recognizing tramadol addiction involves observing various behavioral and physical signs that indicate a person’s compulsive use of the medication beyond its therapeutic purpose. Here are some signs that may suggest a person is struggling with tramadol addiction:

  • Doctor shopping: Visiting multiple doctors to obtain more tramadol prescriptions.
  • Social withdrawal: Pulling away from family and friends and losing interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Neglected appearance: Showing a lack of interest in personal grooming and overall appearance.
  • Defensive attitude regarding usage: Becoming defensive or aggressive when confronted about tramadol use.
  • Secretiveness: Being secretive or deceptive about the amount of medication taken or the frequency of use.
  • Financial issues: Experiencing sudden financial problems due to spending significant amounts of money on tramadol.
  • Legal problems: Encountering legal issues, such as arrest or detainment, related to the possession or procurement of tramadol.
  • Mood swings: Exhibiting erratic mood changes, which may be due to the effects or withdrawal of tramadol.
  • Change in sleep patterns: Experiencing disturbances in normal sleep routines, either sleeping too much or suffering from insomnia.
  • Physical side effects: Showing physical signs such as weight loss, changes in eating habits, or unexplained health issues.

These signs, while not exhaustive, are important indicators that can help identify an underlying issue with tramadol use. Recognizing these signs early can enable individuals to engage with the most appropriate treatment.

A man stares into the distance, thinking about Tramadol addiction symptoms

Tramadol Addiction Symptoms

The symptoms of tramadol addiction (opioid use disorder) are classified in DSM-5-TR (the latest revised edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Symptoms are as follows:

  1. Taking larger amounts of tramadol over a longer period than first intended.
  2. Making unsuccessful attempts to moderate or discontinue tramadol use.
  3. Spending a lot of time obtaining and using tramadol, or recovering from the effects of the medication.
  4. Cravings for tramadol manifesting.
  5. Ongoing tramadol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major personal and professional role obligations.
  6. Continuing use of tramadol even though it is triggering or inflaming persistent social and interpersonal problems.
  7. Giving up or reducing important activities due to tramadol use.
  8. Using tramadol in situations in which it is physically dangerous.
  9. Continuing to use tramadol even though it is causing or worsening a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological health condition.
  10. Tolerance developing so that more tramadol is required to deliver the initial effects.
  11. Withdrawal, manifesting as either characteristic withdrawal symptoms for tramadol or tramadol (or a closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

These symptoms are used by healthcare professionals to diagnose and assess the severity of a tramadol addiction (opioid use disorder).

How to Stop Taking Tramadol

Stopping the use of tramadol should be approached with careful planning and professional guidance due to the potential for withdrawal symptoms and other complications. 

Consult a healthcare provider to streamline withdrawal

Always start by consulting with a healthcare professional. Your doctor may advise a tapering schedule, where the dose is gradually reduced over time to allow the body to adjust without causing severe withdrawal effects.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

In some cases, healthcare providers may suggest MAT, which includes using FDA-approved medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings throughout ongoing treatment for opioid use disorder.

Supportive therapies

Engaging with behavioral therapies, counseling, or support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can help people address the psychological aspects of opioid addiction.

Healthy lifestyle choices

Adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep habits will support overall well-being during withdrawal from opioids like tramadol.

Monitoring and managing withdrawal symptoms

Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms, which may include anxiety, sweating, nausea, and difficulty sleeping. Your healthcare provider might suggest remedies or prescribe medications to alleviate these symptoms.

Avoid triggers

Identify and avoid situations, environments, or people that trigger the urge to use tramadol.

Aftercare planning

Develop an aftercare plan to prevent relapse and sustain long-term recovery.

Continuous evaluation

Regularly evaluate your progress with a healthcare provider to adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Do not stop taking tramadol abruptly without medical advice as this can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Professional guidance ensures the process is as safe and comfortable as possible.

FAQs

Can you get addicted to tramadol?

Yes, it is possible to develop an addiction to tramadol. It’s an opioid that can be habit-forming, especially with long-term use or misuse.

How long does it take to get addicted to tramadol?

The time it takes to become addicted to tramadol varies greatly from person to person depending on factors like dosage, frequency of use, and overall health.

Can you get withdrawals from tramadol?

Withdrawal symptoms can occur if tramadol use is abruptly discontinued, especially after heavy or long-term use.

How long does tramadol withdrawal last?

Tramadol withdrawal duration varies but typically lasts for a few days, with symptoms potentially persisting for weeks, depending on the level of dependency and individual health factors.

Gratitude Lodge, where addiction recovery treatment is available

Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you or someone that you care about needs help addressing prescription drug addiction, we can help you from detox to discharge and beyond at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.

Start your tramadol addiction treatment the right way with our supervised prescription drug detox. Access medications and continuous clinical care to minimize the likelihood of relapse or complications disrupting your early recovery.

Following detoxification – this normally takes about one week – you can move into ongoing residential treatment at one of our Long Beach or Newport Beach treatment centers.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs deliver personalized therapies, including:

Call 888-861-1658 and begin your recovery from tramadol addiction tomorrow.

Want to learn more?

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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