Alcohol and Tramadol - The Discovery House

Alcohol and Tramadol

There is an opioid epidemic in the United States, and tramadol is one of the many drugs that are a part of that epidemic. The development of opioid addictions in the United States has led to more Americans than those who died in the Vietnam War. Although most of these deaths are attributed to opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl, tramadol is still an opioid.

Regardless of the relative potency of opioid drugs, tramadol is still dangerous. When you consider the cows scale for opiate/opioid withdrawal, it may not be as intense, but it can also lead to addiction to other opioids.

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is the generic name for a common prescription opiate. It is typically prescribed to treat severe or chronic pain but can also be abused. It is usually prescribed under the brand names Conzip, Ultram, or Ultracet (which is a tramadol and acetaminophen combination).

Prescription opioids such as tramadol are usually prescribed for short-term use because it has addictive potential. Using Tramadol for long periods of time can become chronic, and lead to higher tolerance as well as dependence. This can lead to being dependent on tramadol, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

It was found that between 21 and 29% of people taking an opioid for chronic pain end up using it for a reason other than prescribed. This is dangerous because drug abuse can eventually lead to addiction.

Side Effects of Tramadol

There are many side effects associated with the use of tramadol, these are the most commonly documented symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle spasms or stiffness
  • Indigestion
  • Weakness
  • Itching
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Feeling unwell
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Rash
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary retention
  • Dilation of blood vessels
  • Visual disturbances
  • Abnormal gait
  • Amnesia
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Feeling uneasy
  • Painful urination
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Motor system weakness
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Fainting
  • Fast heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Swelling
  • Cough
  • Flushing
  • High blood pressure
  • Hives
  • Life-threatening respiratory depression
  • Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome

Tramadol Abuse

Tramadol abuse has become very common in the United States. For a long time, tramadol was prescribed because it was seen as being less addictive than other opioids. However, among opioid abusers, tramadol creates a craving response. It was also found that it has almost the exact same response in the body as that with oxycodone. Oxycodone is one of the opioids with the most addictive potential.

Because the abusive potential of tramadol is so high, it is common that people who were already addicted to other, stronger, opioids, have also become addicted to tramadol. It has led to the belief that tramadol induces drug-seeking behavior and has the potential for the user to develop tolerance. After dependence, addiction typically follows.

Alcohol and Tramadol

Dependence on Tramadol

GABA is a neurochemical pathway that is able to decrease neuron activity by decreasing the production of dopamine. This is known as one of the most powerful reasons for addiction. Tramadol affects the GABA system in the brain, which means it is affected when someone abuses tramadol.

If you were to have a mild dependence on tramadol it may show itself in a different way than in someone with a strong dependence on the drug. If you have shown a strong tendency toward physical and mental dependence, you may eventually see yourself with an addiction to tramadol. Additionally, having a prior history of substance abuse can eventually lead to a serious addiction to the drug.

Withdrawal From Tramadol

Drug withdrawal is a symptom of physical dependence on a drug. Withdrawal from tramadol can result in a very uncomfortable syndrome. In some cases, it can be referred to as discontinuation syndrome. If you were to stop using tramadol, common withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Shivering
  • Aggression
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Tingling

It is important to note that withdrawal from tramadol can be extremely uncomfortable and disturbing. This is why it is often difficult for those who are addicted, to quit using tramadol. For a long time, tramadol was also considered to be a safe alternative to other opioids. However, some medical professionals do not offer a good regimen for tapering off the drug which can make detox symptoms worse.

The Development of Dependence and Addiction

There are more risks than simply the physical and behavioral symptoms associated with tramadol use. Using tramadol and alcohol becomes problematic as tolerance increases. This is because more of the substances will be needed, and the brain will become more familiar with the effects. It will also no longer be able to function without the drug. This is dependence.

If you are someone who abuses tramadol, you may experience long periods of feeling less pain. The problem occurs when the body becomes more accustomed to tramadol. This means you will require more of the drug to feel the same effects, known as tolerance. It is similar to alcohol. After you develop a tolerance, you will eventually increase how much you take, and this will increase the chances of an overdose.

Addiction is the act of the compulsive desire to seek out and use substances regardless of the known negative outcomes. For example, when someone is addicted to tramadol, they may sell their last belongings in order to have money to purchase the drug. Other examples of behaviors by someone who is addicted to tramadol include:

  • Seeking multiple prescriptions
  • Using tramadol in ways other than prescribed
  • Mixing tramadol with other drugs, such as alcohol
  • Ignoring the requests of others to limit or end the use of tramadol

Characteristics of Addiction

Distorted Feelings and Behaviors

One of the common characteristics of addiction is distorted thinking and behaviors. These are common due to the changes in the brain’s structure and function. These changes are what lead to intense cravings, changes in personality, and other behaviors. In addition, brain imaging studies have shown that the areas of the brain that change the most are in areas that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavioral control.

Intoxication and Repeated Substance Abuse

Intoxication can lead to pleasure, euphoria, calm, and increased perception and sense. Intoxication can also cause other feels as well, but symptoms are usually different for each substance. Intoxication often leads to repeated substance use, which eventually changes how your brain functions. These changes may continue even after the immediate effects wear off. 

Repeated substance abuse often happens for one of the following reasons:

  • In order to feel good, and have a feeling of pleasure, “high” or “intoxication.”
  • To feel better or to relieve stress, forget problems, or feel numb.
  • To do better and improve performance or thinking.
  • Out of curiosity and peer pressure or experimenting

Being Aware of the Addiction

If you struggle with an addiction or substance use disorder, you might know that you have a problem. Some people are even able to stop using if they want to. Your addiction can also cause physical and psychological problems, which can eventually lead to interpersonal problems. This is why alcohol and drug use is one of the leading causes of preventable illnesses and premature death nationwide. If you are aware of your addiction, it is the first step to actively stop using.

Tramadol Addiction

Known primarily as a painkiller, Tramadol users are at high risk for abuse. For years Tramadol was thought not to be addictive, or as addictive as other drugs. Tramadol was prescribed more often than other opioids because of this, but we have now discovered this to be untrue.

If you are starting to use Tramadol then you may not understand the potential of the drug, as well as the risks that occur with abusing tramadol. It is possible to understand that this drug can help some people, but there are also risks of using this drug because it can lead to abuse.

Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Those who misuse tramadol are more likely to mix it with another drug and develop poky-substance abuse. Mixing tramadol with alcohol or other drugs can be extremely dangerous. Not only can it result in harmful drug interactions, but it can have serious effects on breathing rate, coordination, liver function, and more.

One of the reasons why tramadol and alcohol are dangerous to take at the same time is because both substances that slow the central nervous system (CNS) activity. Taking CNS depressants simultaneously can lead to feelings of drowsiness, dizziness, and decreased coordination. It can also impair bodily movements, as well as affect your ability to think or judge situations with a clear mind.

CNS depressants end up having a very intense effect when mixed. In some situations those who are addicted to one of the two drugs, intentionally mix the two to achieve stronger drug effects. This can result in the quick onset of the most dangerous effects of the two substances, cause severe mental and physical impairment. It also means a higher risk of fatal overdose.

Signs and Symptoms of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Alcohol and Tramadol

If you have been prescribed tramadol, or are addicted to it, you may wonder, can I drink on tramadol. It is not recommended to drink alcohol with tramadol. This is because opioid use disorders and alcohol can cause the following effects:

  • Abdominal problems
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Lethargy
  • Irregular breathing
  • Seizures

But how long to wait until drinking with tramadol? Typically, you will need to wait for the half-life to complete. Taking a dose of short-acting tramadol means it will be out of your system within 32 hours.

However, long-acting tramadol takes 50 hours before it leaves your body. Additionally, you may wonder, can you overdose on tramadol with alcohol? This is very easy to do, which is one of the reasons why you should always look into seeking treatment for tramadol and alcohol.

Risks Associated with Long Term Tramadol Use

There are a few main risks associated with Tramadol, one of them being tramadol and seizure risk. Other risks of long-term tramadol use include addiction and misuse, slowed or stopped breathing, accidental ingestion, life-threatening effects for children, and even neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. There can also be interactions with certain everyday drugs as well as interactions with benzodiazepines.

Life-threatening Effects for Children

In children, tramadol is not always safe because they can process it too easily. This can eventually lead to slowed breathing or death. This is why the drug should not be used in children younger than 12 years of age. There are also risk factors in children under 18, which is why a physician should always be consulted.

Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

For someone who is pregnant that uses tramadol, there are risks. It can lead to withdrawal in the baby which can also lead to death. This is why it is important to try and stop using tramadol before getting pregnant, or after finding out you are carrying. Symptoms of withdrawal in an infant can include:

  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • High-pitched crying
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to gain weight

Interactions With Tramadol

Taking tramadol with certain drugs can cause different effects. These interactions may increase when tramadol levels rise, which might end up leading to seizures and serotonin syndrome. These interactions can also increase opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Common drug interactions with tramadol include:

  • Amiodarone
  • Quinidine
  • Erythromycin
  • Ketoconazole
  • Ritonavir

Interactions With Benzodiazepines

Taking tramadol with benzodiazepines can cause serious interactions. These include slowed breathing, coma, severe fatigue, and even death.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Tramadol and Alcohol Addiction

There is also a connection between alcohol misuse and dual diagnosis disorders concurrent alcohol and tramadol abuse. In order to treat concurrent disorders, a dual diagnosis treatment program should be followed.

Whether this is an inpatient program or an outpatient program, there is typically a required period of medically supervised detox involved. This is essential because it can help to soothe withdrawal symptoms which can be intense and sometimes dangerous.

Medically assisted detox allows for the removal of drugs, slowly, while under the care of a medical team. Sometimes during the detox process, there may be other medications such as diazepam (Valium) which helps to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Common Addiction Therapy Programs

Alcohol and Tramadol

After you participate in a detox program, you may need to enter some form of a rehabilitation program. During this time, you will learn the skills to live life as a sober individual through behavioral therapy, medication management, and physical health rehabilitation. You will learn how to avoid triggers and get help when needed.

Inpatient treatment requires you to live in the facility and usually lasts 28 days, 60 days, or 90 days. Outpatient treatment is usually a series of meetings, multiple times per week. These help to emphasize relapse prevention and healthy coping skills.

Research-based treatment programs can help to provide therapies and other support. Treatment is the best way to learn how to substitute other behaviors, and reduce the likelihood of relapse to tramadol abuse.

Common therapy programs include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Family and social therapy
  • Peer support group participation
  • Experiential therapy to manage mental conditions that contribute to addiction
  • Exercise, nutrition, and other supportive treatments

These types of therapies can help you learn how to cope with your own symptoms of tramadol addiction and make it possible to lead a healthy life.

Getting Help for Tramadol Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid and alcohol use, professional treatment within an addiction rehab program is highly recommended. Seeking professional help can provide a path for recovery from drug and alcohol use, and for many people, can be life-saving.

Please reach out to the dedicated Admissions team at The Discovery House for more information on how to cover the costs of treatment, and let them start crafting your custom plan for recovery today!