Physical Dependence on Tramadol

Tramadol (Ultram) is a prescription drug that is used to treat both acute and chronic pain of moderate to severe intensity. It blocks the pain signals in your brain so you won’t feel it as much. Using tramadol to relieve pain can quickly become habit forming. After prolonged use, many people begin to develop a tolerance to the drug, causing mental and physical dependency.

Physical dependence has also been shown through the WHO study, which indicates that, while some studies show only mild effects of dependence on the drug, others have shown a robust tendency toward physical and mental dependence which will cause addiction to tramadol. Indeed, when tramadol is used daily for more than a few weeks, physical dependence may occur. Again, prior history of drug abuse and genetic presupposition often contributes to cases during which tramadol addiction is present.

Effects of Tramadol Abuse and Addiction

Long term use of tramadol can cause serious effects on your physical and mental health, such as:

  • Risk of developing mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety
  • Brain damage due to reduction of oxygen in the brain
  • Riskof QT prolongation
  • Stomach upset
  • Risk of liver and kidney disease
  • Impaired memory
  • Respiratory problems causing slow and shallow breathing

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms

People who are suffering from tramadol addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. Withdrawal side effects may last for several days while psychological effects tend to last longer. The effects of tramadol abuse are similar to those of other prescription opioids. Some of the most common tramadol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms such as sweating, body aches, chills, shivering etc.
  • Nausea, dizziness, headache, and vomiting
  • Stomach upset, indigestion, and constipation
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Confusion and inability to concentrate or focus

These effects can become extremely uncomfortable, particularly if the individual overdoses on the drug. An overdose can cause extremely slow breathing which may result in the person passing out, becoming unresponsive, and experiencing coma or death.

Tramadol Addiction Treatment

Treatment for a tramadol addiction is a two-step process. The first stage requires getting rid of the drug out of your body, also known as detoxification. The second stage is drug rehabilitation through counseling and therapy.


Substance abuse treatment professionals in reputable drug rehabilitation programs can provide medical and psychological support for detox from tramadol. These professionals understand the challenges of detox from addictive substances and are ready to provide the medical support required to attenuate symptoms of withdrawal.

This support can include pharmacological treatments that assist in reducing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms described above. A medical detox program helps you or your loved one safely stop using the substance of abuse and facilitates a smooth transition to drug abuse treatment and therapies, which will help the individual learn to manage cravings and start to get over an addiction to tramadol.


As with many substances that are abused for recreational reasons, effective rehabilitation programs provide evidence-based therapies and other interventions that will help the individual understand the root cause of their addiction, recognize their triggers and cravings, and learn how to cope with them. This makes it possible for the individual to substitute negative thinking patterns and behaviors with the more positive ones, reducing the likelihood of relapse to tramadol abuse.

Therapies include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Family therapy and counseling
  • Experiential therapy such as role-playing or acting, props, arts and crafts
  • Exercise, nutrition, and other alternative treatments
  • Relapse prevention and aftercare