What is Tramadol?
Tramadol (Ultram) is known as tramadol hydrochloride, an opioid pain medication (analgesic) prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain as well as chronic pain when weaker pain relievers are no longer effective. Tramadol functions by blocking the pain signals that travel along the nerves to the brain to relieve pain. When used as prescribed, its most common side effects are dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
A person who abuses this medication may not necessarily be addicted to the drug. However, the presence of both a physical and psychological dependence on tramadol typically indicates an addiction. For example, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are signs of physical dependence on this drug. In addition, craving for Tramadol is a prevalent sign of psychological dependence. Alcohol and Tramadol interactions combine the dangers of both and result in intensified consequences for the user.
Although tramadol has a low potential for dependence (when compared to morphine), it can still occur when used for prolonged periods. In 2014, tramadol went from being viewed as a drug of concern to a controlled substance by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) .
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Tramadol Interactions & Abuse
Tramadol can be abused by breaking, chewing, or crushing the extended-release pills. Recreational use of tramadol can cause feelings of euphoria that make someone experience relaxation and elevated moods. It can also lead to a potentially life-threatening issue called serotonin syndrome. The risk of developing serotonin syndrome increases by taking multiple medications such as Tramadol and antidepressants, alcohol and tramadol interactions, or abusing this drug. Some symptoms of serotonin syndrome include confusion, agitation, abnormal eye movements, diarrhea, fever, shivering, muscle spasms, and coma.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , 9.9 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers, such as Tramadol, in 2018. Overall, 2.0 million people were diagnosed with an opioid use disorder, and among drug overdose deaths in the U.S., nearly 70% of them involved opioids.
The following behaviors are commonly linked with an addiction to tramadol:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Trouble concentrating
- Habitual use of tramadol
- Impaired coordination
- Visiting multiple doctors to gain more tramadol (doctor shopping)
- Ignoring duties at home, work, or school
- Social or interpersonal problems related to tramadol use
- Mood swings
- Using tramadol without a prescription or getting it off the street
- Incapacity to feel pleasure
- Vomiting from high doses
- Spending large amounts of money on tramadol
- Hiding or leaving around empty prescription bottles
- Having to take larger amounts to experience the same effects
- Withdrawal symptoms after stopping use
- Continuing to use tramadol despite negative consequences
- Spending the majority of time using, recovering from, or trying to obtain tramadol
Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol-Tramadol Interactions
Signs of concurrent alcohol and tramadol interactions can seem mixed because both drugs affect the central nervous system (CNS). As a painkiller, someone taking this painkiller may seem euphoric and subdued with a reduction of anxiety. However, at high dosages, people using tramadol will have distorted perceptions of pain.
Symptoms that may be present in alcohol and tramadol interactions include:
- Abdominal problems
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Irregular breathing
Effects of Alcohol-Tramadol Interactions
Simultaneous alcohol and tramadol interactions cause lots of problems that are quite serious and can result in death. Someone abusing a high dosage of tramadol or alcohol together should be immediately taken to a hospital. Alcohol and tramadol interactions and abuse can cause:
- Severely low blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Memory loss
Alcohol and tramadol interactions may increase drug overdose, as the combination modifies the individual effects of the substances.
Unfortunately, alcohol is commonly abused with this particular painkiller, which enhances the sedative effects of each, leading to an increased risk for life-threatening depressant effects such as stopped or slowed breathing.
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Dangers of Alcohol & Tramadol Interactions
Alcohol and tramadol interactions could intensify and promote the depressing and sedative respiratory effects of both substances, which could lead to unconsciousness, respiratory arrest, overdose, coma, or death.
When opioids are combined with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants, it can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression causing severe oxygen deprivation and long-term brain damage. This can quickly result in a coma or become fatal.
Taking too much of this drug can also produce an overdose, especially when mixed with other substances such as alcohol, and requires immediate medical attention. Warning signs of a potentially fatal tramadol overdose include:
- Trouble breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Cold, sweaty skin
- Excessive sleepiness
- Loss of muscle control
- Pinpoint pupils
Statistics on Alcohol & Tramadol Interactions
In recent years, this painkiller has become a generic drug, which has made it easier to access and cheaper to purchase. However, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) , research found that the drug was not being abused at a higher rate after it became generic. Still, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)  reports that almost 43.8 million prescription drugs for tramadol were written in 2013.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) , more people over age 12 in the United States have used alcohol in the past year than any other drug or tobacco product, and alcohol use disorder is the most common type of substance use disorder in the United States
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the US each year, or 261 deaths per day. Moreover, these deaths shorten the lives of those who die by an average of almost 29 years, for a total of 2.8 million years of potential life lost. It is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
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Ambien & Tramadol Interactions
Taking narcotic pain or cough medications together with other medications such as Ambien can cause central nervous system (CNS) depression can lead to serious side effects, including, respiratory distress, coma, and even death. Do not drink alcohol or self-medicate with these medications without your doctor’s approval, and do not exceed the doses or frequency and duration of use prescribed by your doctor.
Cymbalta & Tramadol Interactions
Mixing these medications can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as hallucination, confusion, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, nausea, stomach cramp, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death.
Lyrica & Tramadol Interactions
Combining narcotic pain or cough medications together with other medications that also cause central nervous system depression, such as Lyrica can lead to serious side effects, including respiratory distress, coma, and even death. Also, because these medications may cause drowsiness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and impairment in judgment, reaction speed, and motor coordination, you should avoid driving or operating hazardous machinery until you know how they affect you.
Norco & Tramadol Interactions
Using Tramadol together with other narcotic pain or cough medications such as Norco (acetaminophen/hydrocodone) can lead to serious side effects, including respiratory distress, seizures, coma, and even death. Talk to your physician if you have any questions or concerns. Your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives that do not interact, or you may need a dose adjustment or more frequent monitoring to safely use both medications.
Zoloft & Tramadol Interactions
Talk to your doctor before using Tramadol together with Zoloft (sertraline). Combining these medications can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, excessive sweating, increased heart rate, fever, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, tremor, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death.
Xanax & Tramadol Interactions
Taking narcotic pain or cough medications together with other medications that also cause central nervous system depression can lead to serious side effects including coma, respiratory distress, and even death. Your doctor may be able to prescribe alternatives that do not interact, or you may need a dose adjustment or more frequent monitoring to safely use both medications. Do combine alcohol or self-medicate with these medications without your doctor’s approval, and do not exceed the doses or frequency and duration of use prescribed by your doctor.
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Treatment for Co-Occurring Tramadol and Substance Abuse
There are several treatment facilities available for people struggling with simultaneous alcohol and tramadol abuse problems. Clients are advised by addiction experts to enroll in inpatient treatment facilities. At a minimum, a period of medically assisted detox in an inpatient environment is important due to withdrawal symptoms which can be very intense and even dangerous (for example, alcohol withdrawal can induce seizures). Medically-assisted detox allows for the safe and tapered removal of the substance from the body under the care of medical professionals.
Immediately after the tramadol detox, some may choose to enter a rehab program. This will allow the client to learn the skills needed to live a life in recovery while avoiding triggers in their normal environment. There are several different stay durations available to clients, including 30 days, 60 days and 90 days stays (though longer programs are also available).
While in the rehab center, clients will receive a range of possible treatments, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Physical health rehabilitation
- Support groups
- Aftercare Support
Find the Right Treatment Plan at We Level Up NJ
Please, do not try to detox from tramadol abuse on your own, especially if it involves alcohol and tramadol interactions. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up NJ provides proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our medically-assisted Detox Program . So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
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 FDA – https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-drug-safety-communication-fda-restricts-use-prescription-codeine-pain-and-cough-medicines-and
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/prescription.html
 NIH– https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19507804/
 DEA – https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/tramadol.pdf
 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/alcohol
 CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/features/excessive-alcohol-deaths.html