The Dangers of Tramadol Abuse

dangers of tramadol abuse
Tramadol is one of the least potent opioid painkillers in the market today, which is why many are mistaken in believing that it is not that addictive. However, like many substances, people can become addicted to it without even noticing it. Tramadol, when taken in a higher dosage than prescribed, or unprescribed at all, is considered substance abuse. When combined with other drugs or substances, the severity of the side effects can become more dangerous over time.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a prescription drug, often in an oral tablet form, available as an immediate-release and extended-release tablet. This means there are fast-acting variants of the drug (immediate-release) as well as a slow-acting version (extended-release) that are prescribed depending on what is necessary for the situation. Tramadol is an opioid pain-killer, commonly used to treat moderate to severe pains. Tramadol works by altering how the mind perceives pain by controlling chemicals and receptors in the brain usually responsible for detecting pain. Tramadol is a controlled substance and should only be used under a doctor’s close supervision. When left unchecked, several side effects could be detrimental to you or your loved one’s health. 

FDA Tramadol Warnings

The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has several boxed warnings for the drug Tramadol. These include the following:
  • Addiction and misuse warning
  • Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS)
  • Slowed or stopped breathing warning
  • Accidental ingestion warning
  • Life-threatening effects for children warning
  • Neonatal opioid withdrawal symptom warning
  • Interactions with certain drugs warning
  • Interaction with benzodiazepines warning

The Dangers and Side Effects of Tramadol

Even when closely monitored, Tramadol use can have adverse effects on the user. This is why proper dosage and continuous monitoring are needed to minimize these effects. Tramadol abuse can lead to more severe effects or even overdose. The following are common side effects of Tramadol use:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Poor focus
  • Muscle pain
  • Uncontrolled sweating
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Mouth dryness
These side effects are usually mild and can go away after a few days. However, if these effects show up more severely or are chronic, it’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist right away. Aside from the common side effects of Tramadol, more serious side conditions can pop up due to substance abuse.  Here are some conditions that can be caused by Tramadol use:
  • Serotonin Syndrome
    • A life-threatening condition
    • Fast heart rate
    • High blood pressure
    • High body temperature
    • Poor body control
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Hallucinations
    • Comatose
    • Agitation
  • Severe breathing problems
    • Slowed breathing
    • Very shallow breathing
    • Fainting
    • Dizziness
    • Confusion
  • Substance dependence and Withdrawal
    • Irritability 
    • High blood pressure
    • Dilated pupils
    • Teary eyes
    • Diarrhea and stomach cramps
    • Uncontrolled sweating
    • Muscle pain
  • Adrenal insufficiency
    • Tiredness
    • Sleeping troubles
    • Abdominal pain
  • Androgen insufficiency
    • Tiredness
    • Insomnia
    • Decreased energy
  • Uncontrolled seizures
These side effects still do not account for the possible effects Tramadol use can bring when used in conjunction with other substances or drugs. Interaction with other medications can also increase the severity of the side effects, cause more effects, and/or lessen the effectivity of Tramadol in general.

Detecting Tramadol Addiction

Those with a history of substance abuse are more likely to develop a dependence or addiction to Tramadol. However, even those who have not experienced any form of substance addiction are still capable of developing an addiction or dependence on the drug. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are a total of 11 criteria that characterize addiction. The number of met criteria can indicate the severity of their drug dependence or drug addiction. The criteria includes the following:
  1. Lack of control (using amounts larger than prescribed)
  2. Desire to limit usage but being unable to do so
  3. Using a considerable amount of time to procure acquiring the substance
  4. Intense and sudden cravings to use the substance
  5. Lack of responsibilities in work, school, or socially
  6. Relationship problems related to substance abuse
  7. Loss of interest in recreational or social activities in favor of drug use
  8. Continued drug use despite dangerous circumstances
  9. Worsening physical and psychological problems
  10.  Heightened tolerance to the substance
  11.  Physical or emotional withdrawal can cause anxiety, irritability, and/or nausea.

Behavioral Signs of Tramadol Addiction

There are some behaviors you can look out for if you suspect someone has Tramadol addiction:
  • Visiting multiple sources to procure more Tramadol (doctor shopping)
  • Compulsive Tramadol use
  • Neglecting responsibilities in work, school, or at home
  • Mood swings
  • Buying Tramadol without a prescription
  • Apathy
  • Poor focus
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Vomiting from large doses
  • Poor body coordination
  • Spending the majority of time using or procuring Tramadol
  • Hiding or leaving behind bottles of Tramadol
  • Taking higher dosages than prescribed
Developing tolerance and experiencing withdrawal symptoms can be telltale signs of physical dependence on Tramadol. Yearning for the drug, on the other hand, is a very common sign of psychological dependence. Either way, any form of addiction is bad as it can redirect time, money, and focus only to end up in a worse state than you began. 

Intervention and Rehabilitation for Tramadol Addiction

Though most of the side effects of Tramadol use disappear after some time of not using it, some people may find themselves physically or psychologically dependent on the drug for them to “function properly”.  People who reduce their dosage too quickly can also experience withdrawal symptoms, which may cause depression, anxiety, restlessness, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, etc. These symptoms tend to last for several days after usage stops. To mitigate the effects of withdrawal and help a patient cope with their situation, it’s best to undergo early intervention to help them. It’s common for all people who struggle with addiction of any kind to feel isolated and unwanted. This is why it’s important to be clear, sincere, and willing to help your loved one. When staging an intervention, it’s best to always make it as welcoming as possible. This is why it’s important to consider the time, date, and place of your intervention as well as the patient’s receptiveness to getting help. Apart from interventions, it’s also wise to consider to have your loved one go through a proper rehabilitation program to help them overcome their addiction hurdle. You can contact your family doctor or other medical healthcare professionals to devise a suitable way to help you or your loved one detoxify from the drug.
Tramadol is a prescription painkiller that most people think is non-addictive due to it being one of the least potent opioids readily available. However, like most medicine or drugs, using Tramadol can lead to serious side effects, especially when abused. To minimize the harmful effects of using Tramadol, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it. From how it works, its possible side effects, symptoms of abuse, to treatment, you can learn how to responsibly use Tramadol. You can learn more at to help you or your loved one with your current situation. If you or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment Catalina Island, CA and don’t know where to turn, we, at Roots Through Recovery can help. Reach out today to get started. Visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or call (866) 766-8776 for immediate assistance. Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.  Sources:

1 thought on “The Dangers of Tramadol Abuse”

  1. Hello, my boyfriend is an addict of tramadal taking a tab every after 4hr, I really need your help to save his life please🙏

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