What is tramadol withdrawal?

Tramadol withdrawal occurs after you’ve been taking tramadol regularly for more than a few weeks. What to expect during tramadol withdrawal here.

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Tramadol withdrawal occurs when your body is dependent on tramadol and you stop or significant lower doses of tramadol abruptly.  Tramadol dependence how long? (it takes from a few days to a few months of daily use to become dependence tramadol).  But what happens in the body when you withdraw from tramadol and why? How long until tramadol withdrawal starts? (a few hours after the effects of tramadol wear off)?  We review this and more here. Plus, how tramadol withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. We invite your questions about withdrawing from tramadol at the end.

What is tramadol withdrawal syndrome?

Tramadol has both opioid and non-opioid properties and is widely used as a pain reliever because physicians consider tramadol to have a low potential for abuse and dependence. However, withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop taking tramadol, especially after building up tolerance to tramadol. These set of symptoms mimic a withdrawal from both the opiate and benzodiazepine class of medications. Why does tramadol withdrawal occur?

Withdrawal from tramadol happens because the body can develop a physical dependence on tramadol in order to operate normally. After taking tramadol regularly for more than a few weeks, the brain/body needs tramadol to behave normally because it has integrated the medication into its system. Take away the tramadol from the system and the body in a sense freaks out from no longer having tramadol present. In this way, withdrawal symptoms are a way of regulating homeostasis and helping the brain to rewire and adjust to no longer having tramadol in the system.

What is withdrawal from tramadol like?

For the most part, tramadol is one of the safer analgesic medications to take in terms of addiction potential. Tramadol has a lower potential for dependence and abuse. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop tolerance to tramadol, physical dependence on tramadol or that you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms. Tramadol is tricky in that there are over 50 reported symptoms when you stop taking or dramatically reduce tramadol intake. And while tramadol withdrawal will be different and unique to each person, in general, the following withdrawal symptoms are most common:

  • agitation
  • chills
  • convulsions
  • dizziness
  • muscle pain
  • nervousness
  • panic attach
  • seizures
  • sleep disturbances
  • sweats

There is also another common symptom of tramadol withdrawal called serotonin syndrome. Tramadol effects the serotonin in So when you stop taking tramadol, depression can occur and last several months after you have stopped taking tramadol.

What does tramadol withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawing from tramadol can feel hard and uncomfortable at first, but possibly easier than other medications. When you withdraw from tramadol, symptoms present about four hours after the last dose of tramadol has worn off. If you’re not abusing or taking high quantities of tramadol to get high, withdrawal is less severe and should resolve in a couple of days. If you are experiencing the more severe withdrawal symptoms such as tremors and insomnia, it takes about a week for symptoms to diminish. Still, the biggest risk of stopping tramadol is developing serotonin syndrome which is associated with anti-depressant withdrawal and can occur several weeks after the initial tramadol withdrawal.

What helps tramadol withdrawal?

Tramadol is actually a medication that is prescribed by doctors to help with opiate withdrawal. However, doctors DO NOT recommend that you replace tramadol with another opiate based medication. Instead, there are over-the-counter medications that work well to help treat the symptoms of withdrawal from tramadol. These will be quite effective in the short term process of detox.

Three possible treatments for tramadol withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

1. Home remedies – Home remedices can help assist the actual withdrawal symptoms. There are many helpful tools lying around the house that can aid the discomfort you are feeling. Heating pads and hot showers or baths can take care of bone a muscle pain. A bland diet can help gastro-intestinal discomfort. Also drink lots of water. You lose a lot of fluid during withdrawal and you need to fluid to heal. Cold packs can help with fever or sweats. Finally, over-the-counter medication can alsos like ibuprofen and acetimonphen be helpful in treating flu symptoms and you typical aches and pains.

2. Medications – There are many different medication that doctors may prescribe to help ease withdrawal symptoms of tramadol. The more common ones include clonidine (reduces anxiety, agitation, vomiting/diarrhea) and buprenorphine (has been said to shorten the timeframe of tramadol detox). There are also anti-diarrhea medications out there. Doctors may also prescribe anti-depressant medications to ease serotonin syndrome and other conditions that manifest during withdrawal. If you would like a more extensive list of opiate withdrawal treatment aids please refer to our article about opiate treatments.

3.Tapering – Tapering from tramadol a standard medical process for stopping tramadol. Tapering is a method of decreasing your tramadol dosage over a period of days and weeks. This helps to monitor the process and to take into consideration any withdrawal symptoms that manifest. There is a general method of tapering for opiate based medication that should be safe and effective. However, people are finding that tramadol is more tricky than originally thought, as it affects the neurochemistry of serotonin profoundly. There is no one tapering procedure that works. Each person needs to be considered individually and taper procedure put in place accordingly.

Questions about tramadol withdrawal

Please, if we have missed anything or if you still have questions about tramadol or tramadol withdrawal, ask them in the space below. We will do our best to respond accordingly.

Reference Sources: Pub Med Health: Tramadol
National Library of Medicine: Withdrawal syndrome after long-term treatment with tramadol
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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