Tramadol is a common pain reliever that is prescribed for many different reasons. At the same time, tramadol is known to be habit-forming, and it is recommended that you abide by the prescribed dosage and timeline. Even still, there are many people who find it difficult to stop using tramadol for a variety of reasons.
Whether you are worried about facing tramadol withdrawal symptoms or you are going through them right now, we will help you understand more about these symptoms along with side effects and treatment in general for tramadol dependency.
What Is Tramadol?
tramadol is a pain reliever that is most commonly prescribed for moderate pain. It is sometimes prescribed for moderately severe pain as well in higher doses. This also comes in an extended-release capsule or tablet. This is used to extend the effect, and it can ease chronic pain that occurs throughout the whole day.
Regardless of what form tramadol comes in, this medication is classified as an opiate or a narcotic. This directly stimulates the opioid receptors in your brain and reduces pain. While it is highly effective, opiates like tramadol are also known to be habit-forming. This is especially true if you use a higher dosage than prescribed or if you don’t follow the prescription timeline.
Tramadol Side Effects
Just like many other medications, tramadol may cause side effects as you use it. If you have looked into other opioids, then you have probably seen these same side effects. If you experience any side effects, then be sure to tell your prescriber. They can determine if the tramadol is causing the symptom and how to proceed. They may recommend a different dose, an entirely different medication, or something else, depending on the situation.
The most common side effects according to Mayo Clinic include:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling of warmth or cold
- Muscle or joint pains
- Skin rash
- Difficulty concentrating
These are just some of the common side effects. Most of these are considered mild, but you should still contact your doctor if any of them occur.
There are also more serious side effects that may warrant emergency medical attention. These side effects were reported far less often than the mild ones, but it’s still good to know them. According to the Mayo Clinic, these more serious side effects include:
- Dark urine or blood in the urine
- Difficulty urinating
- Reduced touch sensation
- Chest pains or increased blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Difficulties walking and balancing
- Memory loss
- Pain in limbs and lower back
Many people worry about overdose symptoms from medications, especially opiates like tramadol. While you should not face these symptoms if you are taking the dose prescribed by your doctor, it can still happen in that situation. This is especially true if you are sensitive to opiates or if you are on a higher dose. The chances of facing an overdose increase if you are taking a higher dose than prescribed or are taking multiple opiates.
Tramadol overdose symptoms include:
- Decreased pupil size
- Trouble breathing, including shallow or slow breathing
- Severe sleepiness or drowsiness
- Inability to wake up or respond to outside stimuli
- Slow heartbeat
- Cold skin
- Overall weakness
If you are experiencing these symptoms or if you see someone else who is experiencing them, then contact emergency medical services immediately. A tramadol overdose can be fatal, and it’s essential that you get help as quickly as possible.
Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms
Some medications or substances cause withdrawal symptoms when you discontinue them. This most commonly happens if you stop using the medication without tapering the dosage under a doctor’s supervision. This can also happen if the tapering is too quick and if your body is having difficulties functioning without the tramadol.
In either case, you might be wondering what the common tramadol withdrawal symptoms are. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nervousness and panic
- Trouble falling asleep
- Coughing, sneezing, and runny nose
- Diarrhea and nausea
The hallucinations symptom is considered the rarest. If you experience any of these symptoms, either from decreasing or discontinuing tramadol, then be sure to speak to your doctor immediately. They can help you face the withdrawal symptoms in the most comfortable way. If you were taking tramadol without a prescription, then it’s still recommended to speak to a doctor or a medical provider so that they can help you through this.
Aside from the discomfort of the symptoms themselves, the other danger here is that some people might feel a need to take higher doses of tramadol to counteract the side effects. This is most dangerous with those who are facing tramadol dependency and are already taking higher doses. That’s another reason why seeking medical attention is the best way to handle withdrawal symptoms.
Medical Detox Process
While some people are able to continue tramadol without withdrawal symptoms, many people experience withdrawal if they try the cold turkey approach. This is why doctors often recommend a tapering process to help you detox from the medication. Tapering means that you are given smaller and smaller dosages until your body grows accustomed to functioning without the medication. This is considered both safer and more comfortable.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tapering is a process that is different for each person. Most tramadol tapering schedules last about two weeks and involve halving your original dose and then halving that again. At the same time, some people might need more time. In that case, the dosage will be decreased by smaller amounts until you are comfortable.
While some people may try to taper the medication by themselves, a medical detox is a better idea as it ensures that a medically trained professional is monitoring the process. This means that a doctor will meet with you and talk about the withdrawal symptoms, and the physician will help you discontinue tramadol in the most comfortable way possible. This could include assistance with tapering and prescribing other medications as needed to help ease withdrawal symptoms.
We can help provide you with a trained physician who will watch over your progress. This is especially recommended for those who find that they are forming a dependency or habit around their tramadol use. You might be worried that we will not assist you if you are taking tramadol without a prescription. We will still take your case and help you detox from tramadol or any other opiate.
While some people might think that medical detox is enough for tramadol, we recommend engaging with additional treatment methods to support your recovery. This is most recommended for those who have formed a dependency, but it’s also helpful if you were taking tramadol regularly because this medication can be difficult to discontinue without support.
The most common treatment methods include outpatient and intensive outpatient therapies. Both of these are aimed at providing you the treatment that you need while giving you time to work, to connect with sober supports, and to enjoy your life. You will learn about yourself, your cravings, and your triggers while also discovering coping skills that help you avoid use and manage stress.
Outpatient therapy means that you meet individually with your counselor. This is usually once a week, but some people benefit from two weekly sessions. In either case, the session will last an hour, and you can talk about your issues and concerns.
Intensive outpatient, commonly abbreviated as IOP, is a group format that gives you more time in treatment and allows you to speak with peers who are also recovering from substance use. Unlike outpatient that meets once or twice a week, IOP treatment is most commonly three times a week. Each session lasts three hours, which is enough time for everyone to check in, complete activities, and learn more about themselves. A counselor will guide the session while helping everyone with recovery.
Opioids can be difficult to recover from. While some people can stop using the medication with ease, others need some extra help with their recoveries. In that case, you may want to consider medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This type of treatment uses medications like methadone, Suboxone, or Vivitrol to help with your recovery.
Depending on the medication itself, it will either reduce your cravings or will block the effects of opioids if you use them. Using these medications have been found to help people with their recoveries. Your doctor might recommend this treatment option during the medical detox, but you can always ask about it if you’re curious.
Partial Hospitalization and Residential Care
If outpatient and IOP don’t seem to be helping enough and you need more support, then you may want to consider a higher level of care. In that case, you might benefit from either partial hospitalization or residential care. Both of these give you additional support while also keeping you away from stressors.
Partial hospitalization ensures that you receive treatment throughout the day. You will stay at our facility for half the day and receive both individual and group therapy. There will also be activities that help you learn more about yourself and recovery in general. Once the day is up, you can go home and work, talk with friends or family, and sleep in your own bed.
If your environment is unsupportive of recovery or if your stressors at home are too great, then residential care might be the best for you. This is similar to partial hospitalization, but you will stay at our facilities the entire day and night. You will also receive individual and group therapy while engaging in other activities.
This also helps if you need around-the-clock treatment since our staff will always be nearby. These levels of treatment are more common for those with severe dependencies. Be sure to contact us when you are ready to recover, and we can determine the best level of care depending on your presentation. Not only that, but we will treat you with respect throughout the entire process.
At Granite Recovery Center, we have helped people with substance use disorders for over 10 years in the New Hampshire area. Not only have we helped many clients with tramadol and other opioid dependencies, but we also provide numerous levels of care to suit your specific needs. Whether you need outpatient, IOP, residential, MAT, or another type of treatment, we provide numerous services to ensure that your recovery journey suits your needs perfectly.
Contact us, and let us work together on the ideal treatment plan for your recovery. We won’t judge you for your use of tramadol or any other substance. Everyone needs help sometimes, and we are here to support you through the recovery journey. Whether you just need a weekly session or group therapy with peers to reduce your usage, our staff at Granite Recovery Center is here to help.