Wednesday April 26th 2017

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Tolerance to tramadol

Are you finding tramadol is no longer working for you?

Tramadol is meant to help treat ACUTE moderate to severe pain. However, tramadol is not meant to be taken over an extended amount of time. If you take tramadol for more than a few weeks, or so, you can develop a tolerance to tramadol.  So how addictive is tramadol?  (fairly addictive) and when does tolerance become a problem?

If you’re worried about your tramadol use, tramadol dependence time and fear becoming addicted, you’re in the right place. In this article, we look at tramadol tolerance and its relationship to physical dependence and tramadol addiction. We also talk about what you can do for your tolerance to tramadol. We invite you to please ask any questions you may have about tramadol at the end.

Tramadol tolerance symptoms

There are two main symptoms of tramadol tolerance.

1. You think you can no longer feel tramadol working .

2. You find that you need higher doses of tramadol in order to feel pain relief.

REMEMBER: If you experience these symptoms it DOES NOT mean that you’re addicted to tramadol. Tolerance to tramadol is merely a sign that your body has adapted to the presence of tramadol in the body system.

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Developing tolerance to tramadol

For the most part, tolerance to tramadol means you need higher doses of tramadol more often in order to feel the effects of the pain treatment. Tolerance doesn’t affect the overall effects of tramadol nor how long it works. But how does tramadol tolerance relate to dependence and addiction? And who becomes tolerant of tramadol?

Everyone and every body is different. While many people may never develop a tolerance to Tramadol, others may develop tolerance quickly. It all depends on your personal body chemistry and how you are using tramadol. Many times, dependence and addiction can coexist with tolerance to tramadol. One may lead into the other. So as your body develops tolerance and you take more tramadol, your body can become dependent on the drug in order to function properly. Once your body has developed a dependence, this means you will experience withdrawal symptoms one you stop taking tramadol. And while physical dependence isn’t itself “drug addiction”, it can be the precursor to psychological dependence on tramadol – a major characteristic of addiction.

Tramadol tolerance: How long?

Every person is different. But, it is possible to develop tolerance to tramadol within a few weeks of taking tramadol regularly. In fact, it is common to that the body becomes resistant to the effects of tramadol over the course of a few weeks as doctors are advised only to increase doses very five days. Physical dependence can accompany tolerance just as quickly, making withdrawal symptoms more likely.

High tolerance to tramadol

Tramadol is prescribed at 100 mg daily. Doctors will increase dosage by 100 mg every five days to adjust for how the body can tolerate tramadol. However, you shouldn’t exceed 300 mg of tramadol a day. At this rate, 300 mg tramadol hydrochloride is considered a high tolerance. If analgesic relief does not occur at 300 mg tramadol, your doctor at this point may recommended you try another pain medication to help relieve your symptoms.

How to lower tolerance to tramadol

If tramadol is no longer working for you because of tolerance, you can adjust the body’s exposure to the drug with the help of your prescribing doctor. The most effective recommendation is that you stop taking tramadol altogether to give your body time to rewire and become used to not having tramadol in the system. However, tramadol withdrawal may occur with unpleasant symptoms. Tolerance still effects the brain and may develop into tramadol dependence. When this happens, it is important to work with your doctor to decrease your doses under medical supervision as to ease any potential withdrawal symptoms.  What are symptoms of tramadol withdrawal? Imagine a really, really bad flu.

Additionally, there is a possibility you may never regain the ability for tramadol to work to relieve pain. This medication may simply not work for you. Instead you may need to switch to another medication that would work with your particular body.

Building up tolerance to Tramadol questions

Do you have any more building up tolerance to tramadol questions?  Please leave them here.  We do our best to answer you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: Tramadol Hydrochloride
Pub Med Health: Tramadol
National Library of Medicine: Physical dependence potential of daily Tramadol dosing in humans

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19 Responses to “Tolerance to tramadol
Charlene Ewell
3:23 pm November 3rd, 2012

I am taking 50 mg around 9-10 a.m. and another 50 mg at 5-6 p.m. everyday. I have been doing this for 9 months. It is keeping my neck pain under control. I do not seem to need more than that. If I keep it at this amount, is this okay to take daily? I do not like to take medication, this is the only thing I take besides hormone replacement therapy. I am concerned that prolonged used of Tramodol is not good for me, but really helps the pain.

8:51 am November 5th, 2012

Hi Charlene. Thanks for your question. It’s possible that your body has developed a physical dependence on tramadol and may experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to reduce dosage or stop taking tramadol. And while tramadol may be able to provide pain relief over time, long-term studies usually define safety in terms of 6-12 months instead of years. Are you thinking of using tramadol for a while?

Mark kurucz
10:03 am January 5th, 2013

I started taking Tramadol two weeks ago using 300- 400mg daily , which is 2x50g 4 times. I have been prescribed this for pain management for kidney stones , it is the only one so far that makes the pain tolerable other than opiates. I am waiting for an operation to have it removed but that will be upto a month away. What I would like to know is this dose likely to be a problem over this time frame, because it seems to have less effect already.

3:38 pm January 10th, 2013

Hello Marc. This is a good question. Perhaps your body has a natural tolerance to tramadol. It is chemically unique from other opioids, so report your symptoms and concerns to your prescribing doctor. Perhaps other opioids may be more beneficial, especially if you are experiencing break through pain on tramadol.

jorge gomez
8:41 am January 17th, 2013

I´d like to switch tramadol for other drug as a way to avoid tolerance development for a while and return after a year to tramadol. I think that after a year of use it, the pain is coming again, so maybe it´s a little too late. But high neuropathic pain seems to be refractary to other drugs. So my question is, if my body really developed tolerance, i have to assume that the limit of 400 mg a day will have the same effect in my body than 200 mg a day when i started to take it? Tolerance means that i need more drug to give me the same effect, so i can take 600 mg a day with the same risk that starting with 400?

4:10 am January 31st, 2013

What can i take instead of Tramadol for my knee replacement pain. That is not addicting?

9:32 am February 1st, 2013

Hi Patti. Of all the opiate/opioid narcotic pain relievers, tramadol is thought to have the lowest risk of dependency. However, becoming dependent on tramadol is not the same as being addicted to it. IF you take tramadol for a few consecutive weeks on a daily basis, your body will become dependent but you can get off tramadol and go through withdrawal at any time after that. Addiction, on the other hand, is characterized by psychological need to take tramadol. In other words, tramadol can affect the mind AND the body, but if you’re taking it as described and don’t like to get high…you will only be dealing with the body.

Does that help?

9:48 pm July 10th, 2013

Hi Addiction Blog,

I just wanted to leave helpful info on how I deal with Tramadol tolerance. I’ve been using Tram for almost a year now. I’ve found the best way to counteract the tolerance is to switch to another pain med every 3 weeks. I use as little as is effective, even though my prescription is for 50 mg every 6 hours I only use 50 mg as needed on my really bad days. I start with 50mg’s 1-4 days a week, and SLOWLY increase my dose up to 150 mg over three weeks then switch to Tylenol with Codeine #3 for three weeks.

I was switching to Cannabis every three weeks but Cannabis causes way too much anxiety, depression and mania.

Also your dose is affected by how much you weigh, when I was 225 lbs, I needed twice as much. After losing 50 lbs my dose has been cut in half. So if you have lost or gained weight while taking this medication you should talk to your Dr. about any issues that may have arisen from weight change as I had to. I found that the dose I was using at 225lbs, even though it had become ineffective, was causing mood swings at my lower weight of 180. I was having issues with being very quick to anger and sometimes my face would flush. After my dose was adjusted for my weight loss all these symptoms stopped.
Also if you use it only when you have to your withdrawal is not that bad, you might experience mild flu like symptoms for 4-6 hrs, but nothing dramatic. I think people who are not familiar with REAL withdrawal pain tend to over dramatize. Don’t let the over reacting people on the web scare you. Besides if your stopping Tram. use and you have withdrawal taking 1/2 your normal dose usually stops all the withdrawal symptoms.


7:31 pm June 3rd, 2014

I started taking Tramadol 4 weeks ago at 100mgs 4 times a day to Detox off Methadone. I now find myself dependant on Tramadol. My Dr. said to decrease 50mgs a week for 8 weeks or so. Is there a easier or quicker way to stop my dependancy since i have only been on for such a short time??? Desperate to be free from dependance….

12:39 pm June 4th, 2014

Hello Josh. Longer term tapering can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms when you stop using tramadol. Tramadol is an especially particular drug, in that it manifests withdrawal symptoms that are both typical of opioid medications and atypical. It’s probably best to follow the long term tapering regimen set up by your doctor for best results. It may take time, but it’s in your best interest!

6:26 pm January 25th, 2015

I am prescribed 100mg 2x per day for chronic pain that will never go away. My doc went with Tramadol to avoid narcotic starting with 50mg 1x per day then increased it because of the anti depressant’s been 2 years now and at this point I’m actually starting pain management next month. What is your experience a safe daily lifetime plan will be? I’ve been suffering for 12 years and tramadol gives the best overall lasting relief. I take 2 to 3 an hour before I get up and moving, and then another dose 9 to 10 hours later.

4:11 pm February 3rd, 2015

I take 59 mg n morning and 50 mg at night for neck pain for 4 years. U said not intended for long tee dose. Can u explain? Is this just n reference to increased dosage

1:26 pm February 17th, 2015

Hello Char. The longer you take a medication, the more your body depends on the chemical. This is why withdrawal symptoms occur if you stop taking doses. This means your brain stop naturally producing the chemicals it get from Tramadol. Plus, the longer you take and the higher the dose-the more difficult and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will be. Symptoms include feelings of panic, chills, hallucinations, tingling in the hands and feet, and others.

Rebecca B.
12:31 am February 20th, 2015

Update to my earlier comment: After taking Tramadol since May 2012 I find the less I take it the better it works. The past 6 months or so the Tramadol would not kick in until two days of dosing! I cannot wait two days for pain relief sometimes. So I have several days I cut back by over 50% and then when I really need it to work it does. Less is more :)

10:08 pm April 18th, 2016

I have weaned off of Tramadol because of immunity. I was on it for over 6 months. How long should I be completely off of Tramadol before trying it again to see if it once again relieves my pain?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
10:48 am April 25th, 2016

Hi Ruby. It’s different for all people. I suggest you consult with your doctor since he/she knows your medical history.

3:31 pm June 7th, 2016

I’ve read experiences of some saying they had seizures during withdrawl after quitting “cold turkey”. How likely are these more extreme symptoms? I’ve been off of Tramadol a week now and am concerned if I should be trying to taper off of it or if I’ll be fine with my current course of action.

4:36 pm November 10th, 2016

HI AB, I have a question regarding tolerance on tram’s…..
Ive veeng going on tramadol for a little more than a year now, 200mg/d
right now have I tapered down to 12mg/d and was wondering if this will reduce tolerance, or do I need to stop completely for this to work ? Thanks again

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:11 pm November 11th, 2016

Hi Quadam. Did you speak with your doctor about this? You may try by tapering down to 6mg/d.

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