Addiction: Substance Abuse Community
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Avatar universal

Help Me With Tramadol Withdrawal?

[45 yr old suburban Caucasian female. Dx'd eight years ago with ankylosing spondylitis (severe back pain) and Rx'd Indocin and Tramadol. Felt fine on Indocin alone, no side effects to this day...but took Tramadol for a headache seven years ago and got the Rx and have been on it ever since.]

Hi. Last week I started my tapering off of Tramadol. I was taking 200mg/day for the past seven years. I stopped taking one full 50mg pill every late afternoon about six days ago, so I'm now just doing two pills in the a.m. and only one pill around 4pm.

The only problems I have had so far were some mild occasional brain jolts, and for the first two days I woke up at 5 a.m. jonesing (sweating, hot/cold, insomnia, jolts), so I'd stop the wd by taking my usual daily morning dose (the two pills) at 5 a.m., rather than 8 or 9, then go back to bed. I'd get up around 8 or 9 a.m., and then take my one pill by 4 p.m., as scheduled. Only a few brain jolts during the day.

So, in a nutshell, down from four 50mg pills per day to 3 pills per day...over a period of six days.

As of today I am feeling okay. I don't know when to start taking away one of the morning pills. I don't know if I'll cut it in half, or just remove the full pill from the pill schedule. Haven't decided yet. No ideas on when to even do that. I'm just so happy to be doing so well (better than expected) on only taking the three pills, down from the four!

I've quit cold turkey in the past and it was terrible. I felt so sh*tty that I couldn't last a week, just said, "screw it" and started up on the four pills per day all over again.

On a few other occasions I tapered down to one pill a day by cutting slivers of my pills off little by little and cutting away more every three or four days. I thought taking away tiny bits would ease me off, but then by the time I got down to one pill I freaked out and just started taking all of it again.

I'm now in the throes of perimenopause. I am having migraines for the first time in my life and I just want to get off these pills!

So, anyway, I appreciate that this support is here and I am ready to hear anything from anybody willing to put in their two cents here. I just need to talk about it and stay on track. Thanks.
57 Responses
4149717 tn?1389503561
Hi there-Welcome to the forum. You have come to the right place as there are many people who have successfully gotten of Trams. They are a nasty little booger to come off of so I can relate on after a week relapsing. Tramadol IMO is harder to quit in alot of ways than other opiates! Thats because of the antidepressant componant it has in it. Which is why quiting c/t is not recommended. At higher doses people can have seizures. So What your doing by tapering is the right thiing to do. Slow and steady wins the race.

The symptoms your feelig are very normal and even with a taper you cant get rid of them. The "brain zaps" were the worst for me. It has something to do with seratonin imbalance but will get better with time as those level out. The seating, hot/cold and insomnia, also VERY normal! If you check out the Thomas recipe you can find some good ideas of things to help with these symptoms. The most important thing I did for ME was I stayed as busy as I could. Even when I felt like dog poop, I moved! Even if for 15 minutes a day. It helps to get those natural chemicals flowing again which in the end will help to bring your brain chemistry back in balance.

Keep posting here for any questions you might have. Like I said, alot have quit trams, but even the ones who have other DOC's they are incredibly valuable at getting advice and support! Congrats for wanting to get off these things. IMO they need to be discontinued all together!
3197167 tn?1348968606
Welcome to this forum, MamaSueBee.....like that one!

Glad you are beginning your journey and are tapering.  I didn't take Tramadol but once or twice, but have a loved one very addicted to it.
You will get lot of support and feedback right here where you are, but wanted to share a special journal link you can click on that's part of this MedHelp site as well.  The folks that are posting there are specifically Tramadol users/recovering people.  Thought you might want to have a looksey~

Avatar universal
We all come to a fork in the road when it comes to these drugs. Congratulations on your decision to take the road to freedom. You will love having your life back and everything manageable again. I wish you the best!
Avatar universal
I was taking 12-50mg a day of Trams a month ago and am now on 2 a day... I had been taking them for 8yrs... I started having migraines after I droped my third pill and they are not going away... I think its part of the wd... I read that after ur down to 200mg a day it is best to cut back by 1/2 a pill every 4th day... Just thought I would share that with u... Best of luck to us both...  
Avatar universal
HI! I got off of it a couple of years ago.  I honestly don't miss it!  The first week is the worst, so you started using again about the time you would have started feeling better.  That was what I did about a thousand times too! LOL  We all do.  Tapering is good for some people.  I stopped a huge dose a day, cold turkey.  It wasn't pleasant, but I stuck it out.  It was the best thing I've ever done for myself!

What you're having is normal.  The "brain zaps/jolts" are either something I didn't have or didn't realize what it was, maybe?  I probably did, and I just didn't recognize them.  I have heard it from lots of people.  Not abnormal at all.  Sweating, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, nausea, freaking out.....you name it......I had it!

If I can help you, please let me know.  I've been through it over and over and over and.......you get the idea!  I'm happy to help!

Lea Ann : )
401095 tn?1351391770
Trams affect your seratonin levels so depression and anxiety , depression more so, can be a big part of WD, and the fatigue and lack of motivation that accompanies depression.  Most Anti-depressants are seratonin based. .  It sounds as if u r doing well.  200mg is not huge, but anything someone does for 8 yrs is not a piece of cake to quit!  Unlike hydros or oxy,  seizures are a risk with tram WD, so u r smart to taper.  U sound like u r moving forward.  I have heard of folks on huge tram doses, cutting down by 1/4 of a 50mg pill for a week, then another 1/4 and so on.  At 200mg a day, WD should not include seizures, but we are all different.  I have known folks who took 1000mgs plus, and that has to be a slowwww taper....Good luck to u and hopefully u r off the tramadol train
Keep posting
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for all of the comforting responses. Every one of you told me something that is helpful. Your support means a lot to me! I didn't realize the depression wd symptoms were a real thing...it was feeling so low like that that made me relapse. Oh how I hate that feeling. Hearing all of your responses builds my resolve. I need strength from others. I quit drinking three years ago and I 'll now have an occasional one single drink and feel fine...no cravings. I did that all by myself and it took steady determination (about 6-12 months). I realize this Tramadol addiction is something I cannot do without your help. I appreciate all of it.
Avatar universal
Hey LeaAnn, do you remember how many days total it took you to wean off it completely?
Avatar universal
I didn't wean.  I just QUIT!  LOL Like a crazy person.  Felt like one too! : )

Cold turkey isn't right for some people.  I just didn't have any control of myself.  It was BAD!  I wasn't ever gonna stop if I had any pills in my possession.  I have the MOST respect for people who can taper.  Gosh, I would have given anything for that kind of self discipline.  Maybe I wouldn't have gotten into such a downward spiral if I had some.  

Have you talked to your doctor any about how you can set up a taper?  I can give you some idea, but I can't post it here.  You can send me a message, and give me the dosage and times that you take them, and I'll help you with it.  : ) Just against the rules on the main forum!  I can tell you that if you taper, you will be uncomfortable most of the time of the taper, but it shouldn't be too bad if you do it really slowly.  It's more of a mental thing than anything.  Pills had a tendency to scream my name when they were in my house! LOL
Avatar universal
To answer your original question, now that I looked back at the post you made, if you're down to 3 a day now, it should take you about three more weeks to be finished if you stay at the same pace!  I'm happy to help you though!
401095 tn?1351391770
CT is ok for narcs...trams at high doses should be tapered due to seizures as do benzos.  You dose is not high, 200mg a day is recommended, but you have been on it for a long time, 7 years.  Even a headache is tough to kick if u have lived with it for 7 years!
If you have kept your dose at the prescribed amount for this long, then you must have control,to some degree over the trams.  If it helps, cut down 1/4 of a pill each few days or even every week.  Ask your doctor for help as well if u feel the need.  I cut down rather quickly cos I wanted to get it down,  and picked a quit day and stuck to it.  I wrote down my taper and divied out the pills for each day.  Flushed the rest.
keep moving forward
Avatar universal
Thank you. I liked this and I appreciated it! :)
Avatar universal
Wow! Flushing the rest scares the crap out of me. But I totally understand. I don't know if I am there yet. Thank you for this advice.
Avatar universal
LeaAnn, you are CRAY-CRAY. I thought you tapered. I like the attitude, though!! How did you go on with your day to day activities? I don't work, but I volunteer once a week, and my teenagers watch and see everything I do. Were you depressed for a long time after quitting (after the physical symptoms were gone?)
Avatar universal
I decided not to even bother with my doctors on this one, as my dose is the recommended dose. Years ago when I tried quitting (the first time), both my doctors (my general practitioner & my rheumatologist) told me to just stop 100% all at once because "it isn't addictive, so you should be fine". I later wanted to ring their necks. Another time, in my rheumie's office when I was complaining of some additional pain, he simply offerred to up my meds. He said six a day would be okay...and eight if I wanted!! I did take up to six a day for a few months, then just cut that additional dose out completely and went back to my original 200 mgs. Years ago when I originally went for an Rx from my gyno he told me that he doesn't prescribe that drug because it is an opiate (even though he knows it is synthetic--but, same evil thing, basically). It was my other doctors who kept prescribing it--those two doctors work together on my issues so they communicate about my case. I WISH I had listened to my gyno the first time. But is wishes were horses...
Avatar universal
So, thanks again everyone for still being here. I need this! My experience as of late is that yesterday I stopped taking one full pill. I only took my two pills in the a.m. (100mg). This morning I woke up at 3 a.m. (thinking it was 5 a.m.) and I stuffed two pills in my mouth because I was jonesing bad. I went back to sleep. I got up and had breakfast with the family, feeling fine at 6 a.m., but knowing that my dose for the day is already in me. I can't take any until tomorrow morning, so that means I will push myself to suffer through another early morning and make myself wait until at lease 6 or 7 a.m. for my daily dose because I know I cannot go from 3 a.m. today all the way through until tomorrow. This *****. I'M GONNA DO IT, THOUGH!!
401095 tn?1351391770
The best taper is lil amounts verses larger doeses at one time due to the influx of endorphins with larger doses and how they affect the brain.  U r doing great !!  Congrats
If a person takes 9 8 pills a days, one who take 1 pill every 2 or 3 hours, will usually have an easier time letting go than one who takes 4 pills twice a day.  Just food for thought.
U shld be proud!
Avatar universal
That's good advice. I am going to split my last two pills into two doses, instead of taking them together. THANK YOU for that!
Avatar universal
Cray Cray?  LOL I have been told that before! hahahaha Honestly, it wasn't too much worse than the times I had ATTEMPTED a taper before that. I was just as sick when I reduced my dosage as I was when I stopped completely. Except when I reduced my dose and still had pills left, I was in super depression, because I KNEW that those pills would put a stop to it.  AND that's what I did!  Honestly, It's hard either way, but you can get on an AD and help it a little bit.  I was put on one, I'd say, about a month after I detoxed and finished up.  It's a personal choice and something that everyone has to decide on their own.  Even though I didn't taper, I have the utmost respect for anyone who can.  I wish I would have had the self control to do it at the time, but I look back now, and it's hard to be sorry about the way I did it.  It was over quick, and I'm still clean.  Either way, the important thing is that you're stopping.  That's all that matters!  

To answer the question about going on about my daily activities.  I got lucky (blessed) there.  My husband helped with my 18 month old.  There's no way I could have taken care of kids at that time.  My older daughter and stepson were at their other parents that week, so that worked out well.  I didn't want to do it when they were around.  I was sick and testy. The very worst of it was over in about 5 days, a little longer than opiates, because of it's longer half life.  When I detoxed 155 times from Vicodin/Percocet etc, it was over in 72 hours.  Well, it was basically over by then.  It got better every day after day 5 with tramadol.  The only thing that lingered for a month for me was insomnia, depression and low energy. Even if I didn't go on an AD, I wasn't so depressed that I couldn't handle it.  My doc just wanted me to try one.  I stayed on it about a year, and that was all I felt like I needed.  One day, I stopped it, and that was that.  I haven't had to have it again, and I have been fine.  As with anything, mindset has a lot to do with success.  That......and some sort of aftercare.  You have to have that, no matter what.  I thought I was the exception to the rule and never would even try it, but this time I got sick of my cycle of drug addiction and withdrawal, so I gave it a try.  (Mainly because I didn't have anything to lose!)  

The most important thing you can do is keep yourself hydrated and move around as much as possible.  I didn't do that myself for a few days, and once I did, it made a huge difference.  : )
Avatar universal
Thank you for sharing that. Knowing the unkown gives me a better grip on this. Last night my husband became stern about money and I became very upset. It was NOT the way to end the night. Of course everything is completely fine but I had wd symptoms all night long-- the worst so far. And then I finally fell asleep at six this morning when I had my first dose of the day. And guess what? The man wakes me from my first decent sleep of the night to tell me he had made a simple accounting mistake and everything is fine. Ugh! And now my son is using a brand new bath towel every time he showers. Which is twice a day. I'm going out of my mind. First world problems, I always remind myself! But whoa! I called my husband this morning to remind him of the severity of the realness of this experience of quitting. At least he understood. He really is supportive but OH MY GOD the extra stress right now.

I completely believe you/ understand the basics of quitting altogether vs. Tapering. Tapering DOES suck, and the symptoms are EXACTLY the same as what I remember cold turkey to be, and what you say it was for you. I feel like I am extending my misery.

What a great Christmas present to myself if I can throw all my pills away today and be over the worst of it by Christmas. A good way to start 2013 (unless people were right about the Mayans, in which case none of this will matter) LOL! I'll think about this today. If I can get through lunch with my mother then anything is possible. That will mean that my resolve is wicked strong!
Avatar universal
All of your comments and support are still with me. I had a talk with my daughter and she is being very supportive. She suggests I maintain my current dose of  two 50 mg. doses a day until the end of Saturday, and then throwing away the bottle Sunday morning. I have my reservations about that, but I am committed to getting through this. The cravings are lessening. But how will I feel Sunday morning when I can't get my morning pill? Luckily, the place where I volunteer every Tuesday has closed until after Christmas so I have no excuses for maintaining proper functioning!
Avatar universal
Good morning! It's not that that's a bad idea, but did she have a reason why you shouldn't just go ahead and taper down to one? The answer about Sunday and how you'll feel is......rough! Lol  Maybe not AWFUL but not good. A good indication of Sunday will be how you're feeling in the mornings now. That's how you will feel, except there won't be a pill to take. Don't get me wrong! I'm all about quitting and getting on with it. I was just wondering why she would think that you should do the whole taper and then reach this point and not complete it? You'll be fine if you stop now. That's not what I'm meaning. And you'll only feel bad a few days. We'll help you!
Avatar universal
hello everybody, im new to this forum.  Im a 50 yr old women who has been on lortabs and now to trams for 15 yrs. I was taking like 8-9 or 10 a day.  I didnt realize what i was doing to my family till my husband told me he couldnt do this marriage thing anymore. That was tuesday. He said i lost him a long time ago. I started looking back at what i had done and am so ashamed of myself. Always thought i was right and no one could tell me different.  Having possibly lost my marriage and trying to get off these things is the worst feeling in the world. Not having him here to help me get off these and having to be a good mother to my daughter is pure hell. I dont think she should have to be the one to see me go thru this and keep picking me up. Am gonna try to talk to him futher about this.  Wish me luck.
Avatar universal
Hi there!  I'm so glad you have decided to quit.  No matter what happens with your husband, this will be a good decision.  Not only to try to save your marriage but to save your life!  Tramadol is a sneaky drug.  It overpowers us when we aren't looking or even notice it.  Honestly, it's not even a good pain med.  The thing we all like is that it helps energy and does definitely have a high.  Tramadol has an anti-depressant effect to it.  When we stop it, the depression and lack of energy and sleep is almost more than we can stand, so here we go back to it.  The vicious circle continues!  I spent like 12 years addicted to Hydrocodone/any opiate in general, and then I got tramadol and like everyone, I was told it was non addictive and safe.  WRONG!  I never thought I would prefer anything over an opiate.  I did!!!  

Are you still taking it?  Or have you stopped and going through WDs? I know that you are scared to death.  I remember the feeling well, but there's not any reason to live this way anymore.  Getting off of them may or may not help your marriage.  Has he moved out?  Can you give me a little more info?  I would love to help you.  The absolute best way to get support here is to hit "post a question" and tell us what is going on.  You're anonymous here, so you don't have any worries.  We do NOT judge.  You're not the first person who has had marriage issues, legal trouble, addiction, lost their kids, etc.  We have seen it ALL.  

Post a question, ok?  We have all been where you are and many are going through this with you.  This forum saved my life and got me on my way to being clean.  That was in March of 2010.  I've been clean ever since then.  

This is not easy, but we can help you if you'll let us!!  No judgement.  We all just hang out and try to help!!! : )
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