Tramadol is an opioid that can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms and health problems if not taken properly. It is critical to follow your doctor’s instructions in regard to medication intake and medication termination, as you can become addicted and/or dependent on the drug.
How long do tramadol withdrawal symptoms last?
Opioid withdrawal typically occurs in two stages: early and late.
If you do become addicted or dependent on tramadol, you could later experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms occur during detox, or when you stop taking the drug without tapering off. Even with a prescription, taking tramadol for a long period of time can lead to dependence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), so it is important to talk to your doctor about withdrawal and opioid dependence. If you find that the drug isn’t right for you, contact your doctor as they may offer alternatives.
Tramadol is highly addictive and may cause both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms if stopped taking abruptly or without tapering off. These symptoms can vary as time goes on, and each symptom may last for different periods of time. In severe cases, doctors will closely supervise those who are experiencing extreme difficulties in detoxing, or coming off the drug.
The American Addiction Centers states that withdrawal symptoms generally begin 12 hours after the last dose, where early symptoms surface. The organization outlines the most common symptoms and breaks them down as follows:
Early signs of opioid withdrawal include:
- Muscle pain
- Runny Nose
- Racing heart
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Fast heartbeat
Later withdrawal symptoms generally start around 72 hours after the last dose and include:
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Loss of appetite
- Pupil dilation (widening)
- Abdominal pain
- Craving drugs
Keep in mind that you may experience several or just a few of these symptoms during withdrawal. Most of the time, later symptoms are severe. The timeline of symptoms will also vary from person to person, depending on their medical background and how long they have been taking the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity, and some people may be at a higher risk of complications when experiencing it. Those people include:
- Those who use other drug(s) or take other prescription or over-the-counter drugs
- Those who have a history of seizures
- Those ages 65 and older
Treatment for tramadol withdrawal will look different for everyone. This is true, based on how long an individual has been using tramadol and any other health conditions they have, among other reasons.
Slowly tapering off tramadol can reduce or even prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. Before tapering off of the drug, consult with your doctor, who will be able to determine a safe timeline and strategy for you to stop taking your prescription. Remember, withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from one person to another, so it is important to consult with your physician before tapering off any prescription drug.
If you are experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, there are plenty of resources available to pursue treatment. First, talk with your doctor about your options if the tapering process is difficult. If you find that you’re just experiencing side effects, be sure to consult a medical professional as well. Your doctor will be able to assess the best form of treatment for your specific needs.
According to Harvard Health, one treatment option for withdrawal symptoms your doctor might suggest is Medication-Assisted-Treatment, especially for addiction cases. Buprenorphine and methadone are two common prescription drugs that can reduce your withdrawal symptoms during tapering.
Buprenorphine, according to Harvard Health, is more commonly prescribed due to its ability to only partially stimulate opioid receptors. It can assist in getting people back on track with their day-to-day lives while preventing addiction to develop any further.
Another common treatment option for drug withdrawal is mental health counseling. This treatment option can serve as either a short-term or long-term treatment option, depending on each individual’s needs. Therapy is a common treatment option because it can treat the psychological symptoms of withdrawal and addiction, including:
- Drug dependency
- Substance use disorder (SUD)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common therapeutic technique mental health clinicians use to re-frame unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns. CBT can provide useful calming techniques and problem-solving skills for difficult situations that may result after experiencing severe drug withdrawal.
Aside from a well-thought-out treatment plan, developing healthy coping strategies is extremely helpful when dealing with withdrawal. Coping strategies come in handy when withdrawal symptoms feel difficult to live with. Some coping tools to practice include:
- Exercising: Getting the body moving is a great way to take care of your physical and mental health. Exercising releases endorphins, which can boost your mood, and it allows your body to stay healthy.
- Eating healthy, balanced meals: Eating a range of fruits and vegetables can help your body recover from any lost nutrients during the withdrawal process. Further, creating a routine for eating well-balanced meals can improve your nutrition as well as your psychological well being.
- Engaging in hobbies: Make sure to carve out time for hobbies you enjoy. This is crucial for maintaining a good mood, and it creates a distraction from the sometimes painful symptoms of withdrawal.
- Talking with a trusted friend or family member: Keeping your family member or a close friend in the loop about your experience with withdrawal can alleviate some of the psychological pain you may carry long-term. Having someone on your side is also an important part of feeling like you have someone to talk to about your health.
The National Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a government-regulated resource available online and by telephone at 1-800-662-HELP. SAMHSA provides treatment facility options and referrals to support groups and local organizations based on your individual needs. The service operates 24/7, 365 days a year.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline operates 24/7 at no cost at 1-800-273-8255.
For up-to-date information on drug abuse research, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.