Thursday July 24th 2014

Does Tramadol help with opiate withdrawals?

Tramadol is getting more interest as an alternative medication for helping reduce the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms in people getting off heroin and its by-products. Why are doctors excited about this potential? And can Tramadol really help manage symptoms of withdrawal from opiates like heroin? We explore here.

Why do doctors use Tramadol for opiate withdrawal?

1. Low potential for abuse
2. More efficient than other medications
3. Less side effects than other medications

1. Tramadol is considered a low-risk pain killer

Can Tramadol get you high?  Yes. But compared with other medications, Tramadol seems to have low abuse potential. In fact, Tramadol is a non-scheduled analgesic (pain killer) medication, which means that it has not been classified as a narcotic by the DEA and is viewed as a drug with minimal potential for abuse. Still, products that contain tramadol hydrochloride such as Ultracet and Ultram can be addictive.

2. Tramadol is superior for managing some withdrawal symptoms

Many medications have been used to treat opiate and opioid withdrawal symptoms in the past few decades. Aside from new methods of withdrawal such as rapid opiate detox, these medicines have been tested and are generally thought to be safe. Each has its clinical strengths and limitations. But in clinical trials, Tramadol has been shown to (slightly) better manage opioid withdrawal syndrome. Further, doctors and researchers testing Tramadol in comparison with other medications have found that Tramadol is more efficient in controlling opioid withdrawal symptoms such as depression, irritability, anxiety and drug cravings. Other medicines currently used to treat opiate withdrawal include:

  • clonidine
  • LAAM
  • levomethadyl
  • naloxone
  • naltrexone
  • methadone
  • parenteral buprenorphine
  • propoxyphene
  • sublingual buprenorphine

3. Tramadol has less severe side effects than other medications

In addition to lower dependency potential and efficiency in controlling the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, Tramadol also comes with less side effects than other medications. People who take Tramadol experience relative lack of respiratory depression and toxicity, less sweating and drowsiness than with other medications such as methadone. Furthermore, Tramadol effects psychomotor tasks involving speed, coordination, pattern recognition, and set shifting tasks less than other drugs used to treat withdrawal.

Who can benefit from Tramadol during withdrawal?

Tramadol is especially useful in cases of low dosage of opium or heroin use. More specifically, Tramadol compares favorably to other drugs used during detox in the management of acute withdrawal from less than 10 bags per day of heroin. If you use more than this amount, Tramadol may not help you during withdrawal.

More Tramadol questions? Please leave them here.

Reference sources: NIDA Director’s report summary 2011
Tramadol versus buprenorphine for the management of acute heroin withdrawal: a retrospective matched cohort controlled study
Tramadol versus methadone for the management of acute opioid withdrawal: an add-on study
Opioid Antagonists, Partial Agonists, and Agonists/Antagonists: The Role of Office- Based Detoxification

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26 Responses to “Does Tramadol help with opiate withdrawals?
Coco
6:19 pm August 14th, 2011

what about the withdrawal symptoms that tramadol is know to cause, how will doctors prevent it?

Maybe with low dosage I guess, but people will still abuse tramadol.

Christina Stanley
11:53 am September 1st, 2011

I have been on methadone for pain management for about 8 yrs. I have recently lost my job, and my husband is supporting all of us(me and 3 kids). I can no longer afford to pay for my prescription and have started detoxing rapidly from 60mg. I am now at 40mg and am VERY ill. Would Tramadol be of any benefit for my withdrawals and my lower back? The only other drug they will offer me is Fentynal..I can’t afford that either. The docs in NC are very strange.

Awakenedheart
4:05 pm September 12th, 2011

Dear Sister, I usually don’t write on these, but am compelled to share some of my personal experience with opiates. For many years, I was addicted to tramadol as well as other opiates off and on . . . but consistently to tramadol. I can tell you my experience and that of other people I knew taking tramadol, tramadol withdrawals is unequivocally harder to withdrawal from than shorter acting opiates. There are anti-depressant properties in tramadol and the drug itself is a synthetic opiate, made from the scrap of thrown-out codeine. It has a longer half life, making withdrawal longer and much more painful. It also may cause seizures. Should you need an opiate to assist coming off of methadone, ask your doctor for a shorter acting opiate like vicodin or plain codeine. Your lower back is probably in pain partially due to coming off of opiates that you have been on a long time. Methadone as you know is long acting and extremely hard to be free of. But, many people have succeeded and so can you! Perhaps find a group acupuncture clinic where you can pay $15 for acupuncture. Scream, cry, grieve, and feel all the suppressed emotions that have been locked up – especially anger is held in the back as well as fear. Another alternative to being free of methadone and opiates altogether is ibogaine. It may be expensive, but worth looking into. Whatever you choose, do so without feeling any regret and know you are doing your very best. You are surrounded by love and are a powerful being!

Jenn
12:22 am September 18th, 2011

Christina this may sound strange but if I understood u correctly u need the methadon for ur back pain but cant afford it. If this is so I would go to a methadone clinic like herion addicts do. Although u r not a drug addict u r addicted to it if u have been on it for 8 years. So then u could go on the methadone program also most insurances even state insurances cover it and its not to expencive if u dont have ins. Im sure u wouldnt fit in at a clinic and its probaly not something u would want to do, but it may b a way to continue ur current treatment. Honestly theres not any other medication that is cheap that is going to b strong enough to replace the methadone. If u have any questions u think I could help u with. good luck

PLAYHER
7:26 am October 30th, 2011

I must say that TRAMADOL is the most expensive pain medication i have used. So much money and truly i do not feel pain free when i am taking it.I just got 60 tabs for $65.00!!! Christina, Jenn sounds right in her plan with the clinic, and awakenedheart is just out to lunch…(sorry).

justin jones
5:03 pm March 29th, 2012

I don’t know where you got them bud, they are around 5$ for 30 in KS, also not scheduled here as they are in some states. Perhaps that makes a difference.

UNKNOW
5:26 am April 10th, 2012

so im confused is tramadol a good resource or isnt it for opiate or opioid dependencey to introduce myslef early last year i was diagnosed with gallbladder disease and i was put on pain killers percocet to be specific and they put me on them on a daily basis for 11 months till i was finally able to have surgery after surgery my body was immuned to the pain killers now im buying them and going to the er just to have enough to feel normal not to get high but to feel like a normal human being and i have searched high and low and all these doctors want to do is put u on another pill that is just as addictive so im trying to find a solution to weine my self off this crap so if anyone has any good advice i would be so greatful

1:53 pm April 11th, 2012

Hello unknow. This is a difficult question to answer. The right pain medication for any individual will be based on pain tolerance, medical history, and current condition. Although you can build tolerance to Tramadol, many people claim that is it much more mild during withdrawal and easy to get off. Who is helping manage pain at the moment? And have you consulted the American Pain Society or the American Academy of Pain Management? These might be good places to start when looking for your alternatives.

ang
7:31 pm May 15th, 2012

Methadone clinics are not free or covered by state or any insurance in most States. In va I pay 336 dollars for 4 7day weeks of methadone. Its 12 dollars a day. Expensive. I make 696 dollars a month disability and cant get another dime and I have cf and chronic pancreatitis. I can not afford my rent and will eventually lose it all but have no choice.

kim
1:35 pm July 26th, 2012

I have been addicted to opiate medications for years. I have been thinking of going to a methadone clinic, but ours is 13.50 per day, an hour away, so figure an extra 15-20 day for gas. I use tramadol when im out of my scripts, and it does ease the withdrawals. It will upset your stomach though, I advise eating even a piece of bread before taking them. Also, if ur taking tramadol to prevent withdrawal, the 50mg tablets, the normal person will usually take 3-4 at a time, and i normally dont go over 8 a day. I have had alot of addictions in my life, but opiate addiction is the worst thing that ever happened to me. Never in my life have i ever had to endure anything that caused so much nausea, chills, sweating, body pain, as i have withdrawaling from opiates.

steven
3:52 am September 7th, 2012

have used tramadol to kick a 4 yr. opiate addiction…started with 2 pills twice on 1st and 2nd day (max dosage without risk of seizures) on 3rd and 4th day 2 pills a day, 5th day 1 pill and then went to half a pill for a couple more days. it was amazing compared to cold turkey withdrawals…no cramps, no RLS (witch makes me nuts), some insomnia, and some diarrhea witch you can control with imodium. I do feel kind of ‘funny’ when taking the heavy 400ml dose…but I would not describe it as being high, or even as a plea sent feeling. there was no temptation to continue the tramadol beyond what it took to kick the opiates!

7:42 pm September 11th, 2012

Hi Steven. Thanks for sharing your experience about how tramadol helped you during opiate withdrawal. I hope that your experience can help others looking to do the same!

jay
6:34 pm September 13th, 2012

yeah, i get 150 50mg trams a month. i do shoot heroin. in the past, i would use heroin as much as possible and feel like i was dying when withdrawal set in. now, i wont use h no more than 3 days in a row and whenever i start to exp any wthdrwal, i take 4 trams at a time about evry 8 hrs for 3 to 4 days. i dont withdraw at all as long as i hav the trams. so, yes, they do help with opiate detox

Mike
4:55 am January 10th, 2013

Yes, Tramadol will definitely help with withdrawal. As long as you only ue it for about 5 to 10 days, you shouldn’t have withdrawals from it and by then, the Methadone withdrawals will have subsided. Now, I say Methadone because thats what I was on. Im on day 4 and would normally be in a some seriously bad shape. I took just 2 Tramadol 50mgs and smoked a little bud and good grief there hasnt been any kind of withdrawal whatsoever. It’s kind of a strange feeling to take something so weak and it completely stops withdrawals This is just for me, it may not work for eveyone. I havent had any symptoms except my stomach constantly hurts for some reason. Everytime I try to eat it starts hurting worse. However, all of other symptoms are absent.

Jake
2:52 pm January 26th, 2013

Tramadol has less severe side effects than other medications. I disagree with this statement form the above article. From my experience Tramadol will take away the hydro or oxy codone withdrawl. But you have to take at least 200 fo 300mgs to accomplish that. Another withdrawl symtom that was not mentioned above was bizzare and surrealistic dreams or nightmares.

Harlie
6:24 pm February 2nd, 2013

I was just reading these posts. I’m about to get off of Norco 10 mg. I take 5 to 6 a day and have been for months. I am gonna try taking the Tramadol to aid in withdrawal. I’m gathering I should take roughly 250 mg a few times a day?

11:16 am February 12th, 2013

Hello Harlie. See a physician for a dosing schedule for the tramadol during withdrawal and to set up a tapering schedule for the Norco. You need professional advice and medical assistance before attempting to withdraw from Norco in an outpatient setting.

Jay
2:24 am March 30th, 2013

Tramadol works very very good. If your on high dose of narcotic or not.

Jay
2:25 am March 30th, 2013

I was on a high dose for two years, The first few days, i was taking 20 pills a day of tramadol, i was not sick at all, it worked great.

V Steel
12:59 am April 20th, 2013

Tramadol worked get for opiate wd. I will say that it can be abused and can become addictive physically and psychologically. Just be careful and disciplined w it as you taper and you will be fine. ….You can beat this opiate addiction!! Don’t give up and don’t believe you can’t live wo them. Best of luck to all.

harlie
2:08 pm April 22nd, 2013

V Steel:

Thanks for your reply. I started with 250 mg three times a day for two days and went down to 150 mg three times a day for two days. 50 mg three times a day for two days, and then as needed for three days…leaving one in the morning for the following three days. Worked like a charm. I should also note that I take requip nightly for RLS.

This experience was really good. I am now Norco free! ();

Dan
7:52 pm July 24th, 2013

If taking methadone for example low dose for only 2 weeks or a bit more and want to get off without using Methadone as a taper-Tramadol 50mgs up to 300-400 daily, PRN.
Another option-Tylenol #4 . Will help with last piece of getting off low dosages of strong opiates from short and long acting ones.
Clonidine-depending on severity of withdrawals, anywhere from .01-.05(this medication you must be monitored closely if you have fairly low blood pressure or even normal. However, when one WD’s, there BP goes up. clonidine decreases BP, decreasing indirectly physical symptoms(RLS, aches, and pain, headaches, as well as lowering stress levels) *Good herb to take in combo with this is Passionflower.The tea or extract with clonidine seems to have a synergistic effect and helps decrease psychological cravings for drug getting off of. Interesting but worked for some.
If you can get this from a doctor who is integrated in his approach or maybe doctor that isn’t but very knowledgeable with atypical approaches, baclofen 10mg(start off slow and use for only few days) titrate in two days up to 10mgs if needed 3x daily. Help with decrease of physical pains(aches, spasms) even to a degree anxiety. Gaba B agonist, so not cross tolerant with benzodiazepines. Using benzodiazepines like Diazepam, clonazepam of the longer acting ones. Shorter acting Xanax or lorazepam are good for immediate need to decrease aggressiveness, anger. It depends again on individual but all of these types of benzodiazepines have their own unique special properties that work for some better than others.
herbal teas to use-Skullcap for sedation, and muscle pain

Oil
6:47 am September 30th, 2013

Will it help with my leg pains during heroin withdrawal? That is the only thing that convinces me to break. I will run out of heroin tonight and hoping the trams will help me. How many should I take? I weigh almost 200 lbs and I really don’t want to relapse again. Somebody please responD ASAP. I would hate to take too few and have it not work or take too many and have a supposed seizure.

1:06 pm October 2nd, 2013

Hi Oil. You’ll need dosing recommendations from a medical doctor.

Dan
4:41 pm October 2nd, 2013

Agree wit Addiction blog. Also, tramadol Extended Release may be useful as well.

Thomas
1:33 am June 6th, 2014

How about using just a few tramdol, I have half dozen 50mg to supplement opana, 30mg bid for about a week till my opana script is refilled?
thanks

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