Get Help Today. (800) 516-4357

Tramadol Abuse Symptoms | Signs & Dangers to Watch For

Symptoms of tramadol abuse include appetite changes, drowsiness, nausea, digestive issues, pinpoint pupils, and reduced coordination and balance. Other symptoms of abuse include using the medication outside of the parameters of a prescription, increasing tolerance to the drug, and withdrawal symptoms when use stops or is lessened.

Struggling with Addiction? Get Help Now

Tramadol abuse occurs among individuals who take the drug for medical and nonmedical purposes. It is important to closely monitor tramadol use, as dependence, addiction, and overdose are possible. Understanding the risks of tramadol use and the best course of action to take following misuse can help a loved one achieve a full recovery. 

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a prescription pain reliever used for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe pain. It is an opioid medication that impacts how the brain and body perceive pain. It can be taken as a tablet or liquid solution, in both immediate-related and extended-release versions. 

It is important to only take tramadol as prescribed by a doctor and to monitor your own response to the medication closely. Even when taken as prescribed, dependence and addiction can occur. 

Signs & Symptoms of Tramadol Misuse

Tramadol misuse can occur as an individual requires more frequent or higher doses of the drug to achieve the same pain-relieving or euphoric effects. Some people begin to misuse the drug recreationally to experience euphoric or pleasurable effects. Such behavior constitutes opioid abuse. 

Signs and symptoms of tramadol abuse include the following:

Tramadol abuse can be habit-forming and life-threatening

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Constipation or other digestive issues
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Balance issues
  • Cravings for tramadol
  • Withdrawal symptoms when use is suddenly stopped or reduced
  • Increasing use of the drug
  • Continued use of the drug despite negative consequences 
  • Poor sleep and hygiene habits

Someone struggling with tramadol abuse may also begin to isolate themselves from friends and family members. As abuse increases, they may focus increasingly on obtaining and consuming more tramadol, often to the detriment of personal relationships as well as personal and professional responsibilities. 

Risks of Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol abuse can be habit-forming and life-threatening. When taken outside of the parameters of a valid prescription, tramadol can cause serious breathing problems that can lead to death. Individuals with a history of breathing problems, asthma, or weakened immune systems are at particular risk for breathing complications caused by tramadol. 

Combining tramadol with other medications and substances also increases the risk of breathing issues, coma, and overdose. Alcohol and recreational drugs should never be combined with tramadol. Likewise, over-the-counter and prescription medications containing alcohol should not be taken at the same time as tramadol. Pregnant women should not consume tramadol, as it may expose the baby to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms upon birth. 

How to Recognize Tramadol Addiction 

Addiction occurs with repeated use of a substance that leads to physical changes in the brain. Over time, the brain becomes unable to function properly without the substance in the system. 

The cycle of addiction starts when an individual experiences the pleasurable effects of tramadol, which is followed by a negative emotional and physical state when its effects wear off. The third stage of addiction is marked by preoccupation with getting more tramadol or other opioids and experiencing the pleasurable effects once more. 

The more someone uses tramadol, the more severe the stages of the addiction cycle become. With time, brain function is changed, and the individual loses much of their control over use. 

Identifying a loved one’s pattern of substance use may be the first step in breaking the cycle. Early intervention is key to minimizing the long-term effects of addiction.

Tramadol Withdrawal Symptoms 

Once dependent on tramadol, meaning the body cannot function normally without it, withdrawal symptoms will occur when use is suddenly stopped. Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and challenging to endure but are typically not life-threatening. 

Common tramadol withdrawal symptoms include the following: 

Help is available for people with a tramadol addiction

  • Agitation and anxiety 
  • Muscle aches
  • Difficulty or inability to sleep
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Increased tearing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting 

To ease withdrawal symptoms and assist in a successful recovery, many withdrawal symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter and prescription medications. Detoxing under the care of a medical professional ensures the individual’s safety throughout the withdrawal process. For opioids like tramadol, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often recommended in lieu of traditional detox. 

Can You Overdose on Tramadol? 

Since it’s an opioid, it is possible to overdose on tramadol. Consuming too much tramadol at once can depress breathing to the point of stopping it. Serious breathing difficulty, among other symptoms, may indicate a tramadol overdose. 

Signs of an opioid overdose to watch out for include the following:

  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Limp body
  • Pale and clammy face
  • Purple or blue fingernails or lips 
  • Vomiting 
  • Inability to wake up

If you witness someone having an opioid overdose, quick action can prevent the overdose from being fatal. First, call 911 for emergency medical support. 

If available, naloxone should be administered to immediately reverse the life-threatening effects of the overdose. Naloxone can be readministered every few minutes until the person is no longer overdosing and breathing has returned to normal. 

Getting Help for a Tramadol Addiction

Help is available for people with a tramadol addiction. Inpatient, outpatient, and short-term or long-term treatment programs specifically designed to treat opioid addictions are available throughout the country. Certain medications also play an important role in addiction recovery.

MAT is known to significantly increase the likelihood of successful recovery from an opioid use disorder (OUD). Buprenorphine and methadone can lessen opioid cravings and largely eliminate withdrawal symptoms. With MAT, medications are combined with behavioral counseling to address the root causes of substance use and help individuals develop effective coping strategies to remain sober. To find a treatment program, begin by speaking with your doctor who can conduct a brief evaluation and make appropriate treatment referrals. You can also search the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Opioid Treatment Program Directory or Buprenorphine Practitioner Locator to find services in your state.

Updated August 15, 2023
  1. Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction. (November 2016). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  2. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids. (September 2018). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Opioid Overdose. (January 2023). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  4. Tramadol. (January 2022). National Library of Medicine.
  5. Opioid Use Disorder and Treatment: Challenges and Opportunities. (November 2019). BMC Health Services Research.
  6. Opioid Use Disorder. (April 2023). StatPearls.
  7. Opioid Use Disorder: Pernicious and Persistent. (October 2022). The American Journal of Psychiatry.
  8. Effects of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder on Functional Outcomes: A Systematic Review. (June 2020). Rand Health Quarterly.
Take The Next Step Now
Call Us Now Check Insurance