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weaninTramadol for opiate withdrawals

I am on day 4 of a hellish detox and yesterday I was lucky enoug to talk my doctor on the phone after office hours (I know this is rare but he know's my situation)  He said in tougher cases like mine putting me on a weaning dose of Tramadol would alleviate alot of the symptoms until this is over.  He said he would put me on a 5 day weaning dosage to get me to about day 10.  He has had me on Tramadol for pain and I never came close to getting addicted to it...just not my thing I guess so here is my question has anyone had experiences with this...it is not one addiction for another as I will get between 10 and 15 pills and he has been my Dr. for 20 some years...I trust this man with my life...HELP PLEASE
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5059248 tn?1363570993
IMO you really can't go by what others say about their horror stories with Tramadol because that experience is personal to them. Moreover, you said you have a 20-year relationship with your doctor, and you trust him with your life.

I would not question your doctor's treatment and competency based on what a stranger on the Net says about his or her personal and nightmare with the drug.

Your doctor sounds great and what I would do is ASK the doctor about your concerns related to his prescribing Tramadol. Your doctor knows his patient best. Moreover, you know your limitations, weaknesses, and attitude about certain drugs. It sounds like your doctor is working with you, taking into account what he knows about you.

Very generally, from what I have read, opioid taper plans fail because people can't deal with the withdrawal process. So if a doctor can prescribe things to lessen discomfort and help assure overall success, that sounds reasonable to me. Additionally, from the limited prescription it sounds like he is making sure you don't go from addiction to abuse or dependence of another drug.

(Note: As I understand Tramadol, you don't get addicted to it, you develop a dependence to it.) This distinction is similar to the Ambien I take. One does get addicted to Ambien, meaning if I don't take an Ambien my body is screaming for more. But I do have a dependence to it, where I need to take an Ambien at some point to get to sleep.

Regardless of medical terms, my understanding is that when going off Tramadol one suffers withdrawals too. But AFAIK suffering withdrawals does not medically escalate a dependence into an addiction. So this is why you may have never felt addicted to it, because it is non-addicting. And it may be what the doctor meant by it being non-addicting, if he said that.

Again, this is just my understanding, but when you say Tramadol does not do anything for you and it has never been your thing, IMO that's because Tramadol is not a drug that gets one high or gives a buzz. It is a pain killer that works differently than the strong opiates (Oxy, Vicodin, etc.)

Note: I have seen people, and myself, use "addiction" and "dependence" interchangeably. Although I tell people I am "addicted" to sleeping pills, I know that my Ambien use is a dependence. (The luxury aspect of a dependence is that if I don't take an Ambien I will not suffer WD symptoms, unless laying bug-eyed in bed unable to get to sleep is a WD symptom ;)

That Tramadol is not medically considered an addicting substance is indicated that the federal government does not treat it as a federally controlled drug. However, some States have passed laws or regulations listing and handling Tramadol as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Hope that helps.

(Note: Getting rid of a dependence on Tramadol can be physically uncomfortable too. So I would NOT want to go from one set of WD symptoms to another. So you are right to be concerned. Then again, if your doctor prescribes Tramadol to help you handle the opiate WD process, that looks like a good plan.)
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4522800 tn?1470325834
Hi and Welcome... There are alot of people who came off the med you are on. The taper is the best....Great DR you must have...I will just say hang in they will roll in and out. It seems to be quite right now. We can help you with our experience on what to use natual or otc if you start to feel funkie..So come back to this same question and it should feel up with info..
GREAT JOB !!!!
vickie
Helpful - 0
5051252 tn?1362970368
i think maybe i read this post wrong, so can ya help me out? did you say that your doctor told you that you never got close to being addicted to pills, even though you went to him saying you were and you wanted to get off of them?

sorry -- pretend it's monday. monday is always my excuse for reading things wrong. hehe
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Avatar universal
I am heavily addicted to opiates but when I was on tramadol I never got addicted so his reasoning was put me on a 5 day dose of something that is non addictive to me in order to taper off the opiates...he doesn't want to taper me off the opiates with other opiates so he figured tramadol would be much better....lesser of the 2 evils I guess I personally hate Tramadol they do nothing forme but he assured me they would make the qtting much eaasier
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5051252 tn?1362970368
hey, whatever he feels will work!
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Avatar universal
Hello - just want to warn you about the Tramadol.  I was prescribed it for back pain over 15 years ago and just finally broke free from it about 101 days ago.  It stole away years of my life, my friends, my health, my career . . . It is VERY addictive and dangerous - search the Emily Post journals here on MH to read the stories of so many people who have battled with addiction to this "non-narcotic", "non-addictive" medication.  It is unbelievable to me that a dr. would still prescribe this as something non-addictive.

If you do take it, please stick to the 5 day minimum . . . the w/d affects from the Tram are just as bad or worse than any other opiate.  

Whatever you decide, its awesome that you want to get off the pills - be strong - it is SO worth it!

Julie
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Avatar universal
The tramadol will definately help the wd but just remember that it is addictive also so just be careful with it. I took 2 a day for 5 days once to help me get thru the worst of the wd but if you have 4 days in your almost over the worst of it. Wishing you the best of luck!
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Avatar universal
I am getting a 5 day dosage that will be tapered down on the promise that I wll submit to a drug test every month for the next 6 months for him...I will not know when the tests will be, I will have 24 hour notice
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5059248 tn?1363570993
From what I have read about some other doctors it sounds like yours is a blessing. Sounds like he attended some seminars on how to detox patients.
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4522800 tn?1470325834
Good info up there. I was on the other opiates when I broke a toe and had to have surgey. The Tramadol was the last mediction he put me on. So it was like a taper. And way back then I did not know about the w/d and I took my last pill and went on my merry-way..I took them as prescibed and as long as he had me on them...The future held more issues and that is when my so called chem dependent or addiction took over it takes many yrs of over using to become an addict that my experience and I am sticking to it...Jordan made alot of good points about this...
vickie
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Avatar universal
Thank you so much.  I think I culd have looked for hours on the web and not found a better answer.
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Avatar universal
Sorry, haven't been on the forum in awhile..been really busy but I thought I needed to weigh in here with my experience and clear up some misconceptions about Tramadol.  Like FourJays, I have a long and painful history with a total and complete addiction to Tramadol that started after a legit script for pain following surgery.  I had had a love affair with hydrocodone about 15 years ago after a car wreck, but started the Tramadol about 5 years ago and quickly went from the prescribed dosage to take 20-30 50mgs/day. Nothing  prepared me for how horrible and toxic this drug is, how addictive it is, how many physicians are unaware of the implications of abuse and how absolutely horrible it is to WD from it...hydrocodone was a cakewalk compared to Tramadol WD.  Tramadol is a synthetic opiate and binds to every receptor in your brain, in addition to being carried in almost every cell in your body, including fat cells which are the longest to turn over, hence a longer WD timeframe to clear.  Also, it contains an SSRI component, so there are severe implications for depression and WD from it ....it creates a severe shortage of natural dopamine/serotonin in your brain which takes months for your body to start manufacturing on its own.  FourJays and I (along with great help from folks like Clean_in_ks) have done a ton of research on this and are  are doing a holistic supplement/diet approach to replacement and restoring normal brain function.  I am 46 days into my ct wd and FourJays is over 100, yet we both still have issues with PAWS and energy levels.  To anyone who says you can't get high off of Tramadol, please go through the 58 pages of journals on the Tramadol and Ultram site here and read these people's experiences with this "non addicting" synthetic opiate going back to EmilyPosts journals from 2008.  I, for one, spent the last year in a total Trama-fog (as us Tramadol Warriors call it), lying on my couch doing nothing but waiting until i could take more and losing friends, family and a brilliant career in the process.  I just loved the buzz it gave me and energy, but that too soon turned into a full blown addiction requiring more and more just like any other opiate does.
If I were anyone on this forum, I'd do some research on Tramadol before deciding to take it if it is prescribed....I'd run from it if I were you.  It can be a horrible, evil drug.  First step is to read the hundreds of people before me who have posted on the MedHelp Tramadol and Ultram Recovery Room pages. Link follows:
http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/652914/Tramadol--ultram-recovery-room-57?personal_page_id=142
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Avatar universal
Hi there- I think your doctor has given you an excellent plan and he sounds like he understands how important follow up and accountability are...

You'll be more comfortable while tapering off which will certainly help your mood and ambition!  Do you have any sort of recovery care set up? Supportive therapy...that sort of thing..?
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4522800 tn?1470325834
Yes I have heard that the trams are as bad as the methedone in alot of ways because of its thing...My husband has a scrip in his truck but I do not care for that one. I am glad about that...i used it so short term but it makes me feel jittery and strange so be at that...that is a good one...I do know it is in the chart of the addictive drugs that unbalance the brain chems and mess with the pleasure part of the brain...A drug is A drug no matter what or why we do it, there is going to be some issues getting off of it....
Thanks
vickie
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5059248 tn?1363570993
I agree with some of what AdExec says, but not all. Technical talk notwithstanding, should the OP "run from Tramadol," reject or question his doctor's care (a 20-year relationship), or embark on his own treatment plan, based on what's said in here? IMO, no.

Yes, there are people who suffer a Tramadol addiction and there are precautions to taking it, just like there are for many drugs. However, I am not aware that the fed considers it a controlled substance because of addiction concerns.

Yes, Tramadol can be abused. From the horror stories in here from time to time some people develop a strong physical dependence to it. But my understanding that physical dependence is not the same as an addiction, albeit to the abuser the experience withdrawing from Tramadol is far worse than WD from Oxycontin, for example. So can abusing Tramadol be thought of by some as an addiction, I suspect so.

Finally, yes, I read around that WD symptoms from Tramadol can be more severe than for opiates, similar to even the strongest opiates, and the process longer.

Our nightmare stories notwithstanding, the OP indicates his doctor is closely monitoring his getting clean off other drugs, promise to take monthly no-notice drug tests monthly. His doctor is carefully prescribing Tramadol (5-day supply) so he can deal with the WD symptoms. His doctor's actions are noteworthy.

I would submit that personal Tramadol horror stories are not sufficient bases to say "if I were you I'd run from it." That is basically telling the OP that his doctor is giving deficient and incompetent care. At the minimum it may cause the OP to question the doctor's treatment and their 20-year relationship (where he trusts the doctor with his life - his words).

I agree that conducting research on the Net is a valuable tool to understand anything about what is happening to us, and to be an informed patient. (To be sure, the world would be a better place if everyone was required to research Wikipedia before making big decisions.)

Sounding alarms on a doctor's treatment, I don't know about that. For example, saying that "Nothing  prepared me for... how many physicians are unaware of the implications of abuse and how absolutely horrible it is to WD from it...hydrocodone was a cakewalk compared to Tramadol WD."

From the information the OP provided, his doctor appears competent, caring, professional, and concerned about his patient. He appears a doctor fully aware of the dangers of Tramadol, probably from reading literature describing situations like yours (and that he prescribed a 5-day supply, required surprise drug testing in his overall program, and most important, took his call after-hours).

Like I said before, if the OP has concerns he should address them with his doctor. His doctor seems the type who would not take offense to the OP saying "I read on the Net..." (Most of my doctors have an aversion to my saying "I read on the Net..." They get a chagrined look on their faces and they want to chew me out for mentioning what I read :)
Helpful - 0
1416133 tn?1351123217
I think it's great that you asked about taking the tramadol BEFORE deciding to take it.  I wish I had done that.

Everyone has made a good point here, and only you can decide if you want to follow your Dr.'s advice or be influenced by folks who have had horrible experiences with this drug.  But I do disagree on one point - you absolutely CAN get addicted to this drug and there are a lot of Dr.'s out there that are aware of the issues related to this drug and know full-well of its addiction potential.  Especially for people who have had addiction issues in the past.

Yes, we're all different, but that's why this forum exists.  You can come here and learn from others about their experiences with a medication and go from there.  And I do agree, talk to the Dr. and share those concerns and together, the two of you can figure out what is the best plan for YOU.

And lastly, since it has been four days, personally, I wouldn't start taking anything at this point.  But I wish you good luck with whatever you decide!
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Avatar universal
With all due respect, I simply responded to the OP because I have PERSONAL experience with Tramadol; originally prescribed by my family doctor of 20 years whom I fully trusted when I was told it was non-addictive and non-narcotic.  

At some point in my taking it dependence turned into full-blown addiction; one that turned me in to a different person, a person with addict tendencies that developed "drug seeking behaviors" including lying to my doctor of over 20 years in order to continue getting them.  He never questioned me, you see I was very good at hiding the addiction, and he trusted ME..  

This drug has taken over 15 years of my life, almost took it for good literally 4 times, and I know many others who have battled it or are currently in the fight of their lives right this moment.  And it IS currently under investigation by the FDA to be re-classified as a controlled substance.  Many states have already declared it to be one.

I would not question the doctor nor mistrust him/her either - its the DRUG that is the problem.  I just hoped to help the guy out and suggest he research it a bit to be sure.  It CAN be very dangerous.  

I have 101 days clean from tramadol as of today.  Finding this site and the people here have saved my life.  All I want to do is help out and pitch in when I can about something I personally lived through and know about.

Julie

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3197167 tn?1348968606
I just spend a bloomin hr composing some thoughts here......and blipppp
my post is gone.  I will try to be more succinct with this second attempt at posting here.  Even tho, I liked the way I said it last time...I'll try again LOL

For the OP, mrc2001, I think it is great that you are on day 4 of a hellish detox from being heavily addicted to opiates.  Congrats to you for 4 DAYS!
I also think it is really commendable that you have a 20 yr history with a dr that you trust and that you have been honest and willing to go to for help.

I have recently read about a short term, 5 day only, controlled weaning taper plan some dr's use to wean/taper opiate addicts using Tramadol.
Because your dr is ONLY giving you enough Trams for 5 days and has required you to commit to a monthly drug test for the next 6 mos also shows he knows about addicition and has provided you with much needed accountability.  You say for YOU, Tramadol has never been a drug you were addicted to or that it did nothing for you.
But where some controversy comes into play is when you said this about your dr, "his reasoning was to put me on a 5 day dose of something that is non-addictive TO ME in order to taper me off the opiates.....he doesn't want to taper me off the opiates with other opiates so he figured Tramadol would be much better".  (I also took that as your interpretation of his words)

Because Tramadol IS an opioid analgesic (and has anti-depressant components in it as well) Tramadol functions by blocking sites on your brain and spinal cord knowns as opioid receptors.  When these sites are blocked, your nervous system slows down."  So it IS an opioid..for sure.

All that to say, others that may come along and read this post could totally MISUNDERSTAND and believe that Tramadol is not an opiate.  Or that it is a non-addictive drug.  BOTH of those points are incorrect.  Because our forum is plagued lately with suffering, recovering Tramadol addicts, it really was hard to read that Trams are non-addictive and not an opiate.  That simply is NOT TRUE.  It set off bells and whistles for some peeps.

In your case, your doc is choosing to use it as a step down, 5 day only,
drug to help you.  BUT, he also is requiring you not STAY on it for more than this 5 day period and is requiring routine drug testing.  He sounds wise......very wise to me.

For Jordan to say, "you can't go by what others say about their horror stories with Tramadol because that experience is personal to them" .....

that's EXACTLY WHY I would "go by what they say"!!!!!  They have lived it, suffered from it, lost their livelihood, their jobs, their marriages, their health, and on and on.  Who better to learn from???  They have walked the walk....and a person that has LIVED thru something is the most qualified to tell you what it  is/was like cause they've BEEN THERE/DONE THAT!!
I VALUE their experience, strength and hope......and appreciate them.

I don't think the Tram Warriors on MedHelp that we hear from are those that were put on a short term, 5 day, controlled step down script for Tramadol.  The potential for addictiion to Trams after being addicted to another opiate is VERY REAL.  And we need to KNOW all we can on our new road to recovery....be aware of pitfalls and misnomers out there.

Your situation seems to be different than most I've read on here.  The use of this 5 day plan is NOT what many others on here are even talking about.

It only makes sense to my heart that anyone whose life has been tragically effected by Tramadol addiction would not want to read that this drug is non-addictive or is not an opiate.  (their thought?  you've gotta be kidding me?)

We all just want to help others in any way we can here......and knowing you have a controlled, limited, supervised use of Trams for 5 days is WAY different that switching from one opiate to another.  Just wanted to clarify the answers and emotions that may seem to be all over the board.
That's kinda how this forum runs sometimes.......but eventually.....we all get on the same page......even tho we read it thru diff eyes and maybe even in a diff languages....haha!
Best of luck thru this detox......and hope you'll keep checking back in with all of us and continue to share!  Now to get some "post" detox plan in place so you are successful in STAYING opiate free, huh?
Blessings to you!
Helpful - 0
4522800 tn?1470325834
VERY VERY GOOD CLEAN KS.......Right to the point...
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Avatar universal
I just love you clean_...you are always the voice of reason!  I didn't mean to alarm anyone, I, like FourJays just want to share my experiences and that is what I think are the purpose of these forums...to share personal experiences.  I would never have learned on the Internet the things I've learned here..the invaluable personal experiences that saved my life too..and kept me hopeful during WD..things like dilated pupils and red watery eyes for 30 days, that Epsom salts and magnesium helps with RLS, that LTyrosine, B6 and Rholdiola help with energy.  And not to feel alone in getting to, and being in my addiction.
For MRC2001, I just want to encourage him/her to research before you take anything...to take real ownership and control over your addiction.  I too, have a wonderful relationship with my doc who had my best interest at heart when he first prescribed...it was only my choice to abuse, and mrc2001, like me, already has a history of drug abuse....Tramadol is a slippery slope.

And since Wikipedia was already referenced, I thought I'd include a short excerpt from the Tramadol page:

"In May 2009, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a Warning Letter to Johnson & Johnson, alleging that a promotional website commissioned by the manufacturer had "overstated the efficacy" of the drug, and "minimized the serious risks"........

The 2010 Physicians Desk Reference  contains several warnings from the manufacturer.........Tramadol is not to be used in place of opiate medications for addicts. Tramadol is also not to be used in efforts to wean addict patients from opiate drugs, nor to be used to manage long-term opiate addiction."

Just a well meaning recovering Tramadol addict wanting to help another not to go where I've already been.
Helpful - 0
5059248 tn?1363570993
I agree with those posting horror stories about their experience with Tramadol. And I subscribe that the best way to teach and get a point across is by example, here Tramadol can be dangerous.

And yes, if one is addicted to one substance it is very easy to abuse other medications. (While seemingly an irrelevant example, when my doctor says "You need to get off Ambien" I easily respond "Yeah, yeah, can you give me six refills please.") My flippant attitude about dependence on Ambien has its foundation from my previously not-a-big-deal attitude toward Vicodin addiction.


Also, I was attempting to distinguish the differences between physical addiction and physical dependence. Can people become addicted to drugs that medically is classified as having a physical dependence. Yes.

My retort was in response to a comment that said words to the effect "if I were you I'd run from Tramadol." With all respect to people who take the time to help others in here, I am saying that in full consideration of what the OP has set forth in his comments, his best course of action is to communicate with HIS doctor, not reject his doctor's treatment based on horror stories he read on the Net.

I am not contending the OP look lightly at any drug he is taking, especially since his concern was trading one addiction for another. Nor am I saying that he should disbelieve the nightmare accounts posted in here. To have an informed discussion with his doctor he needs to know how the law looks at Tramadol, and most important, accounts of Tramadol abuse.

If the OP had posted what some people do in here, e.g., "My doctor matter-of-factly prescribed Tramadol, I told him I had addiction concerns" (which some people have posted on MedHelp) then I would NOT have recommended he talk to his doctor about his concerns.

Moreover, the OP is treating this as very serious, as indicated by his forthright posts. And it reads to me like the doctor is "sleeping with one eye open" on the OP, fully cognizant that he is, after all, treating an addict.

I assume the doctor did a full workup of the OP's history of abuse he has compassionately/proactively opted to help him get clean. I say "opted" because I have read many posts in here where one admits to the doctor that he is an addict, and the doctor's response was to cut the patient off and slam the door in his face.
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Avatar universal
All in all Mrc2001.....whatever you choose to do, be informed about your choices and let us know how you're doing whatever your choice.  There are always great opinions and advice on this forum to help you through whatever you are going through.   After all, we're all here to help whatever it is you need and support you no matter what!  Let us know how the next couple of days go for you...I wish you great success in your recovery plan!
Helpful - 0
5059248 tn?1363570993
To the OP, there's a LOT of information on the Net if you want to look at it.

http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00142896

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Addiction-Substance-Abuse/can-I-take-Tramadol-to-relieve-Vicodin-withdrawal/show/968254

What everyone seems to agree with, if you have a treating doctor, talk to him about your concerns.

Drugs are a serious matter. Only medical professionals can determine what's best for you. And if the doctor does not have your confidence, then it is time to find another doctor.

IMO from what you have posted, YOUR doctor appears a blessing. (I have seen many posts where people have described doctor incompetence or a flippant attitude toward a patient's confessing addiction.)

I'd appreciate updates on how you are doing.
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5059248 tn?1363570993
It just dawned on me to ask, did you get your Tramadol prescription?

If so, has it helped in dealing with your "hellish detox?" Day three and four into withdrawal can seem like you are in hell on earth.
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