Tramadol is an opioid analgesic that is intended to treat moderate to severe pain following surgery or a serious injury. It is habit-forming, and with continued use, people can develop a dependence on the drug. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the number of prescriptions for tramadol increased 88 percent between 2008 and 2013, making it more widely accessible for people to misuse and abuse.
Although no one misuses tramadol with the intent of getting addicted, developing an addiction to this prescription pain reliever is a very real possibility with prolonged use. Addiction is a chronic disease, and like most chronic diseases, it requires medical intervention in order to treat.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the first stage of addiction treatment is detoxification, which is the body’s process of ridding itself of the substance. Because this stage produces uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, individuals can benefit from enrolling in a medical detox program. In such a program, clients have access to qualified healthcare providers and medication that can ease even the most painful symptoms of tramadol withdrawal.
Symptoms of Tramadol Withdrawal
Once individuals stop taking tramadol, withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as 8-10 hours later, just a few hours after the effects of the drug have worn off. The most intense symptoms will typically last for a few days, but symptoms of protracted withdrawal can last for months.
A typical tramadol withdrawal timeline might look like this:
- 24 hours after the last dose: According to The New York Times, early symptoms of opiate withdrawal include anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, insomnia, sweating, and runny nose. These symptoms might last for several days following the last dose. Later, individuals may also experience abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- One week after the last dose: At this stage, common withdrawal symptoms from tramadol include cravings, insomnia, blurred vision, and disorientation.
- Two weeks after the last dose: Depending on the extent of the addiction, some individuals may still experience characteristic opioid withdrawal symptoms a couple weeks later. Such symptoms include anxiety, depression, and serotonin syndrome.
- One month after the last dose: As the physical symptoms of tramadol subside, the psychological symptoms may feel more apparent. These include apathy, irritability, and depression.
It is important to keep in mind that the above timeline is merely a rough outline of what some people can expect to experience after quitting tramadol. Ultimately, the severity and duration of withdrawal depend on a variety of factors, including the extent of the addiction.
What Is Protracted Withdrawal?
Although some symptoms may linger, most individuals experience relief from acute withdrawal within 4-10 days of the last dose of tramadol. Protracted withdrawal, on the other hand, can last for weeks or even months following recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, protracted withdrawal is the presence of withdrawal symptoms after the generally expected timeline has passed. The most common protracted withdrawal symptoms for opioids like tramadol are anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, and insomnia.
Managing the symptoms of protracted withdrawal is challenging, especially alongside powerful cravings. With the right initial treatment approach and aftercare plan, however, anyone can achieve recovery following tramadol addiction. During addiction treatment, clients learn how to cope with the stressors of daily life that led them to abuse tramadol in the first place, and it is entirely possible to stay in recovery for life despite protracted withdrawal.