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Tramadol Addiction (Dangers, Dosage, Side Effects, Drug Tests)

Tramadol Addiction

Is Tramadol Addictive?

Very much so. It is as addictive as any other opiate, which only makes sense when you consider that it is an opiate (or rather an “opioid”) and that it works in the same way. However, when this drug was first launched it was marketed as a safe, effective opioid that offered all of the benefits of codeine and morphine based drugs but without the risk of addiction.

It’s astonishing to think that they could make such a mistake, but they did and it led to a lot of doctors freely prescribing it. They knew the addiction potential was there, but they didn’t think it was severe and they didn’t belief it had as much potential for abuse. They were wrong, very wrong, but those mistakes are still being made and Tramadol is still freely being prescribed in place of other opioids.

Does Tramadol Get You High?

One of the reasons tramadol is so widely abused is because it is considered a recreational drug. Simply put, it is as widely prescribed and available as “lesser” opiates like codeine (see Codeine Addiction and Codeine Withdrawal), yet the “high” it gives is said to be stronger and to last for longer. This is likely down to the methods of action and the fact that it stimulates several areas of the brain, giving the user a typical opiate high as well as the emotional and uplifting feeling triggered by certain drugs prescribed for anxiety disorders.

This was once considered to be a relatively harmless drug and one that didn’t have much risk of abuse or even addiction. However, that has changed considerably. Tramadol addiction is now very real and this drug is being prescribed with less and less frequency because of it.

Is Tramadol an Opiate?

Tramadol is a synthetic drug that works in a similar way to opiates. Technically, it is an opioid and not an opiate. See our guide on Opiate vs Opioid to understand the difference between the two terms.

What is Tramadol For?

Tramadol—which is most commonly known by the brand name Ultram, but is also sold as Tramal and many other names—is a pain medication. It can be prescribed for pain that is classed as moderate to moderate severe, and it is also common prescribed as for “mild” pain in place of opiates like codeine. One of the things that makes it unique is the fact that it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, which means it has more psychological effects than traditional opioid-based painkillers.

Side Effects of Tramadol

Tramadol Side Effects

Some of the most dangerous side effects of Tramadol addiction and use in general including breathing difficulties, potential liver and kidney problems, and seizures. These are more or less nonexistent in healthy users, but if you have had head trauma, then the seizure risk is high; if you having breathing difficulties or asthma, then the breathing side effects are high; and if you have kidney and liver problems then you may be putting additional stress on those organs.

MAO Inhibitors, certain antibiotics and AIDS medications may also cause problems. All of these issues aside, the following are the more standard Tramadol side effects, including both the common, the uncommon and the rare side effects:


  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Constipation
  • Flushing
  • Headaches

Uncommon and Rare (but not to be dismissed)

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Abdominal Fullness and Bloating
  • Blurred Vision
  • Blood in Urine
  • Blisters Under Skin
  • Chest Pain
  • Chills
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Gas and Indigestion
  • Irregular Heartbeat

Is Tramadol a Narcotic?

The definition of narcotics can be broad and in some countries it pretty much covers all drugs that can be used recreationally. However, strictly speaking it refers to opiates and opioids, and Tramadol fits into this description.

Tramadol Dosage

Your doctor will prescribe what they believe is the best dose of Tramadol for you. This will depend on the severity of the pain as well as the length of time you have been using the drug. Typically, they will begin with just 50mg, before increasing this to 100mg several times a day.

These doses are also enough for recreational use. Many Tramadol users feel that too much Tramadol has an adverse effect and just doesn’t hit the spot. So, they tend to stick with doses that would be considered therapeutic, only increasing when they develop a tolerance and when that therapeutic dose no longer hits the spot. That’s when Tramadol addiction kicks in.

What is the Tramadol High Like?

Tramadol Dosage

The Tramadol high can be compared to a high from a mild opiate like codeine or dihydrocodeine. However, there are a few key differences. It has more of an emotional affect and is able to lift the spirits more than other opiates.

The face-flushing euphoria that can be felt with doses of codeine and other opiates is there, but it is not as intense. However, the Tramadol high tends to last for longer and users find that they require fewer doses—when compared to other opiates—to satisfy them throughout the day.

One of the common negative side effects of Tramadol is nausea, dizziness and sickness. If the user is susceptible to such side effects and gets them when they take codeine based drugs, then they may be more likely to experience them with Tramadol. Or at least that’s what we have been told by frequent users of the drug and those with Tramadol addiction.

What Schedule is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a prescription-only medication in most countries and it has started to raise concerns in the medical community due to the risk of abuse and addiction. However, despite these concerns it is still very low down on the schedule list. In the United States, Tramadol is schedule IV. In the UK, it is Class C. Elsewhere it has similar low ratings.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System

The length of time that Tramadol remains in your system will depend on dose and the health of the person being tested. However, it will typically remain in the urine for up to 2 to 4 days after the last use, with 2 days being the most common. It will remain in the blood for a similar time and often less.

Hair follicle drug tests are a different matter as Tramadol can show up in these for many weeks after and will be able to detect even occasional use many weeks in the past.

Will Tramadol Show up on a Drug Test?

Tramadol Drug Tests

If you’re wondering whether Tramadol shows up on drug tests then we have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that it does and that a hair follicle test can leave all of your previous use exposed. The good news is that most drug tests for opiates (including heroin) and similar drugs test the urine or the blood and Tramadol will often be gone within 96 hours.

If there is no Tramadol addiction present and you just once once or twice, then it will likely clear out of your system within 48 hours.

How Long Does Tramadol Last

The “high” of Tramadol is said to be a little longer than other opioids and opiates. This likely has something to do with the fact that it acts on serotonin as well as opiate receptors. Typically, the peak will only last for an hour or two but you should feel the pain killing benefits for at least 4 hours and you will likely feel the effects of the drug for as much as 6 hours.

Of course, Tramadol addiction occurs because people keep using in order to dull the pain or to continue to feel the euphoric effects. In addicts it’s not unusual to see Tramadol being taken every 3 or even 2 hours. This is not advised though as it could lead to an accidental overdose. What’s more, and as many opiate users will tell you, stacking narcotics in this manner doesn’t do a lot for increasing the positive effects, but it will exaggerate the side effects.

Is Tramadol effective for Pain?

Tramadol is very effective for pain and is good for mild and moderate pains. It isn’t strong enough for severe pain though and it is also limited with regards to the pain that it can treat. Opiates like Tramadol are great for helping with joint pain and with breaks and strains. However, they are not very good for curing headaches, dental pain and inflammations.

In such cases you are much better off taking an anti-inflammatory drug. There is a fallacy that opiates are some magical cure-alls that will take all pain away, but that’s just not true and there are many kinds of pain that they just don’t help with.

What is the Street Value of Tramadol?

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

It really all depends on where you live. If you live in a country where Tramadol is widely prescribed, as is usually the case, then it is fairly cheap and is often sold for less than $2 a pill. It is not as expensive as other opiates and opioids because it is more widely available.

However, we have heard reports that the value has increased as the drug has become more popular and tramadol addiction has become more widespread. It is roughly in line with a similar dose of codeine. But again, it all depends on where you buy it.

Why Is Tramadol Recreational Use Increasing?

As soon as people realized that Tramadol provided many of the same effects as drugs like codeine, but was more readily available, this become one of the most abused drugs around. It is particularly popular in the United Kingdom and across Europe, because drugs like Oxycodone, Hydromorphone and similar drugs that litter the streets of America are just not available.

They are very rarely prescribed and morphine based drugs are often preferred. In fact, you have more chance of being prescribed a drug like diamorphine, which is also known as heroin (see Heroin Withdrawal), than drugs like this. So, Tramadol is popular in the UK because it offers an alternative to codeine based and morphine based opiates that are widely available, whereas it is less popular in the US because drugs like Oxy are more widely available.