Tramadol Addiction Treatment

When taken for medical reasons, tramadol can be an effective way to relieve pain, maximize physical function and retain your independence. But tramadol, a man-made opioid drug that is sold under the brand names Ultram and Ultram ER, can be addictive if you take more of the medication than your doctor prescribed or if you take it for non-medical purposes.

Tramadol has traditionally been considered to be safer and less addictive than powerful pain relievers like hydrocodone and oxycodone. But the medical community has recently become aware that the abuse potential of tramadol may be higher than they previously suspected. According to the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, pain patients may become dependent on tramadol even if they take the recommended dose. In people who have a history of addiction to other substances, the risk of addiction is even greater. Recovering from an addiction to tramadol requires a treatment program that can address your pain while helping you gain freedom from your dependence on this prescription drug.

How Do I Know if I Need Treatment?


Admitting that you can’t stop using tramadol without help may be one of the biggest hurdles you face when it’s time to seek treatment. You may have tried to cut back on the dose or to quit cold turkey in the past, only to find out that the withdrawal symptoms and cravings drove you right back to the drug.

How do you know whether you need a specialized treatment program to stop using tramadol? The Mayo Clinic has identified some of the most common symptoms of depression. dependence on opioids:

  • Chronic confusion
  • Slow heart rate and breathing rate
  • Sweating
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Fatigue

You may have noticed that you have trouble concentrating, or that you feel moody and irritable if you can’t take tramadol. You may have resorted to forging prescriptions or seeing more than one doctor in order to get more of the drug. If you’ve ever tried to stop using tramadol on your own, you may have experienced withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you’ve tried and failed to quit using tramadol without help, it’s not because you’re morally weak or because you have no willpower. Frequent relapses are a sign that you’ve developed a dependence on the drug, and that you need a professional rehabilitation program to break the cycle of addiction.

Stages of Tramadol Recovery

When you enter treatment for tramadol addiction, the first stage of recovery will involve clearing the drug from your system through detoxification. A medically supervised detox program can minimize the side effects of withdrawal and reduce your cravings for the drug, so your system can adequately recover. Withdrawal symptoms from tramadol may resemble the classic symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as nausea, muscle spasms, sweating, chills and agitation. But Drug and Alcohol Dependence notes that in as many as one out of eight cases, users may experience withdrawal symptoms that are unique to tramadol, such as:
tramadol addiction

  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe anxiety

Depending on how long you’ve been using tramadol and how much you’ve been taking, your treatment team will develop a plan that keeps you clinically stable as you’re weaned off the drug. You may be prescribed medications to relieve symptoms like anxiety, headaches, agitation and muscle pain. You may also receive medication to help you cope with your cravings for tramadol.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one of the most important goals of detox is to prepare the patient for the next stages of rehab. Even as you’re going through the first stages of detoxification, your providers will be getting you mentally ready for the next phase of your recovery. Rehabilitation involves much more than “getting clean.” The next stages of rehab include:

  • Going through individual counseling to increase your understanding of addiction and enhance your motivation to quit
  • Learning behavior modification techniques that will help you make safe, healthy choices in the future
  • Attending counseling sessions with your peers to build a support system and gain new coping skills
  • Strengthening your personal relationships through family or partners counseling
  • Continuing your recovery program after rehab with counseling, aftercare education and participation in 12-step meetings or other self-help groups

Tramadol treatment may take place on an inpatient basis or at an outpatient recovery facility. Residential treatment offers a number of advantages, including the ability to focus on rehab in a comfortable, supportive environment without the distractions of everyday life. For patients in the early stages of addiction who prefer to continue living independently, tramadol rehab may take place through a monitored outpatient program. During the intake process, your treatment team will help you decide which level of care is most effective for you. 

Goals of Addiction Treatment

For many people who struggle with tramadol addiction, recovery involves learning more effective, safer ways to deal with chronic pain. You will also need to learn how to handle psychological triggers for drug abuse, such as stress, emotional conflicts and memories of past trauma. Although each client must identify his or her personal treatment goals, some of the most common objectives of tramadol rehab are:

  • Maximizing your physical function with non-addictive interventions like physical therapy, biofeedback therapy, hypnotherapy, massage and acupuncture
  • Exploring your psychological sources of pain, such as emotional and physical abuse
  • Treating any co-occurring mental health disorders, like depression or anxiety, that contribute to your addictive behaviors
  • Strengthening your sense of self-worth, so you can feel more competent and efficient when dealing with the challenges of life
  • Restoring healthy relationships with family, friends, employers or colleagues

Tramadol addiction rarely develops in a vacuum; it has deep roots in the body and in the psyche. Finding the right combination of treatment strategies will help you recover a sense of hope and move forward to a more positive future.

Finding the Right Treatment Program

When you’re looking for a rehab program for tramadol addiction, it’s important to search for a long-lasting solution rather than a quick-fix treatment plan. Take the time to find a facility that’s staffed by experts who understand the challenges of recovering from this opioid pain medication. The professionals here at Axis know that recovery is a complicated process that can last a lifetime. From detox through rehab and aftercare, we give you the support you need to heal on all levels.

Further Reading