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Avatar universal

Problems With Tramadol

I am a mid-aged male whom has been taking Tramadol Hydrochloride for about 2 years.  I began taking it to control the paid from back spasms that would occur at least once a week.  It was great, providing be the ability to forget about the pain, and be able to work/sleep/live.  As time went on, I needed to increase the dosage to manage the pain.  I then began to feel awful the day after, with little to no energy  I began taking Tramadol during those periods, to get rid of the pain of not being on pain killers (the irony of this situation does not escape me).  It has now become a mandatory daily ritual in order to even function.  

I have tried to stop cold turkey a few times, but my withdrawal symptoms (depression, vomiting, hot/cold flashes, diarrhea, etc) put me in bed for days until I give in, eventually repeating the cycle all over again.

I also have tried many times to slowly decrease the number of pills (50mg) taken and lengthening the time between dosages.  Without fail, I become seriously lethargic and depressed around the clock.  Eventually I give in, and again the cycle starts all over again.

Most embarrassing is that there is a direct relation between taking higher dosages, and my face breaking out.  In addition to the affect on my face, I am concerned about the damage I may be doing on the inside of my body, as well as the fact that it is impossible to function without taking the pills.

Can someone advise the long term affect of taking Tramadol, as well as how best minimize the withdrawal symptoms (especially the energy level) while quitting Tramadol.  I am unfortunately working overseas and getting good and confidential doctor's advise is not really possible.

Thank You!!
76 Responses
172715 tn?1285498090
Sorry to here of your withdrawl.  I too take tramadol for pain(I really don't think it works) and I take Vicodin for pain. It sounds like you tried the correct way (easing off) of getting off the meds and I can't understand why your withdrawl was so bad.  Did you take a long time easing off, like for a month take 25 mg a day then the next month take 25 mg every other day then stop.  Or if you've done something like that already add 1 more month and space the meds out to every 2 days. Or if you can get some meds from a doctor for nausea do it cold turkey again and pray that after a week to two weeks it will be done and show no more side effects or withdrawl effects. When are you coming back into the USA? Or are you staying were you are? You may have to treat yourself like you have the flu if you go cold turkey, have some time off of work,school or life. Have some things ready like broth, motion sickness meds (motion sickness wrist bands work too) Gatorade, jello, popsicles, diareah meds, and Pedalyte (SP?) for babies w/diareah and vomiting.  No Matter what you do I wish you luck and a speedy recovery.
Avatar universal

After two years, you will certainly be addicted physically and psychologically. I am starting to taper off this week. It is difficult, and the temptation is great, but the following can work.

I am not sure how much you are taking, but try and taper of by 25mg a day (take your time with this. Obviosly the more you are on, the longer time it will take and the more gradual the decrease should be). When you are down to taking 1 X 50mg tablet a day, this is when, as I am sure you know, it gets really hard. The following strategies have worked for me when you are donw to very low doses.

1) If you can take a few days off when you have tapered down to 0-50mg that will help

2) To help with the restlessness at night, I take 10mg of ativan, which I find is not addictive, although some do so be careful.

3) If you have access to a sauna or steamroom this will physically exhaust your body which will help with the restlessness.

4) Yoga will help during the withdrawal symptoms

5) don't drink alcohol when tapering off or nearly off the meds, as you are more likley to say to yourself when buzzed/drunk. **** it I'll take some tramadol.

6) when you are down to your last half or quater tablet. Flush any remaining down the toilet.

7) Hot bath at night if you can't sleep.

8) Read if you can't sleep from withdrawal, don't watch TV. The latter will futher stimulate the restlestness.

9) Drink lots of water

10) Postive self talk helps me.

11) decrease dosage, do not lengthen time between dosages. For some reason the latter makes it harder.

12) If you can, take your dosage at night before bed. This will make sleeping easier. In my opinion, it is slightly more bearable to have restlessleg syndrome during hte day than at night.

13) Write down you new drug schedule on a notepad, so you know exactly how much you are allowed to take each day. One of the multiday pill containers might help you remember each days dosage or not take a dosage from another day.

13) If you have the courage, go to an NA meeting while you are going through this and talk about your progress. Go everyday if they have one.

I hope this helps. I am starting this program right now and determined, this time, to make a real change.


You wrote: I am a mid-aged male whom has been taking Tramadol Hydrochloride for about 2 years. I began taking it to control the paid from back spasms that would occur at least once a week. It was great, providing be the ability to forget about the pain, and be able to work/sleep/live. As time went on, I needed to increase the dosage to manage the pain. I then began to feel awful the day after, with little to no energy I began taking Tramadol during those periods, to get rid of the pain of not being on pain killers (the irony of this situation does not escape me). It has now become a mandatory daily ritual in order to even function.

I have tried to stop cold turkey a few times, but my withdrawal symptoms (depression, vomiting, hot/cold flashes, diarrhea, etc) put me in bed for days until I give in, eventually repeating the cycle all over again.

I also have tried many times to slowly decrease the number of pills (50mg) taken and lengthening the time between dosages. Without fail, I become seriously lethargic and depressed around the clock. Eventually I give in, and again the cycle starts all over again.

Most embarrassing is that there is a direct relation between taking higher dosages, and my face breaking out. In addition to the affect on my face, I am concerned about the damage I may be doing on the inside of my body, as well as the fact that it is impossible to function without taking the pills.

Can someone advise the long term affect of taking Tramadol, as well as how best minimize the withdrawal symptoms (especially the energy level) while quitting Tramadol. I am unfortunately working overseas and getting good and confidential doctor's advise is not really possible.

Thank You!!
Avatar universal
I am having a problem getting off the tramadol. Basically, I am upto 5 a day and whenever I try to quit, my back pain is excruciating and my energy level is down to nothing. When I am taking these things, my back is fine and I have so much energy. I hate like hell to admit it, but I am addicted to these little f*****s.  Argh! Help! I tried tapering off and always find myself right back to taking 5 a day.
Avatar universal

Thanks for your advise!!  Am starting on the slow tapering off, and hoping to be able to fully carry through with it without going back up in number of pills (which is something that often helps).  I have finally told my live in girlfriend, who was thankfully supportive.  Hopefully this is going to work out this time!!  How is your therapy going?  Any more bits of advice?  

Also, since you seem to be fairly knowledgeable, are you aware of how much is too much to take at one time and what potential overdoses I am risking?  

I expect to be down to a pill a day in within the next week.  From there, as you said, it is going to get real tough to make the final psychological and physical step of independence!!
Avatar universal
I am a 33 yr old female. I have been on a combo of Lexapro and Tramadol for two years now. I started out on Lexapro fine and have no problems with it still but with Tramadol I feel completely alone with dealing what I can clearly see as an addiction. I started out at 2 pills in the am and 2 and night. Now I take ten in the morning till I start to slow down around lunch time then I take ten more. I take 20 50mg pills a day and I can't stop. The quantities consistently increase no matter how I try to stop taking them all together.
The withdrawls scare the hell out of me. The longest I've gone cold turkey was four days. By the end of the first day I am already miserable and have hot flashes and severe sweating. I sweat all day long. But the whole reason I am taking them and am so addicted to them is the fact that once they take effect, I'm outgoing, talkative and funny at work, I can go all day without eating. Sometimes I make myself eat late lunch but rarely dinner. I have lost 28 pounds over the last year of taking them. When I first started I noticed a decrease in appetite but with increased dosage, came decreased appetite. I don't want to stop taking them because I like who I am when I have them. I am better with my boys, calm that is, I am happy and motivated. The energy I get is INSANE...I take Lexapro with it too just one a day but I wonder if the doctors know of a reaction to Tramadol like mine or is it possibly a combo of tramadol and Lexapro. My mom tried tramadol and it does nothing for her pain or for energy. But for me I am just a lightning bug all day and come bed time I am totally relaxed and comfy and fall right to sleep. I can't make it through the nights without bawling when I quit cold turkey because my legs won't stop kicking and my body aches with such gut wrenching pain and sweat.Very intense pain, that i cry the whole night long until I finally find myself waking up for work exhausted but more so I am SOOOO DEPRESSED>....and so I take come and say I will try later. I have tried three times now since December 2007. No success just worst acutally. I began to feel like I was damaging my body when I took six in the am and six at night. But now I am at 20 and 20??????????????

Has anyone experienced this with the large quantity I take and does anyone know what damages it could cause? The doctors act like it's not much of a pill at all. They said it's not narcotic or habit forming.B*****T. My doctor tested my kidney's or liver one or the other, after I got on it for a month. At that point the felt it wasn't damaging me and for two years now, I call in for early refills and not once has the doctor called to ask why I call in early or if Im ready to get off of them. I called her one day and told her my problem. That I want off of them. She told me about a three day taper and never heard from her since.

That of course was unsuccessfull. I couldn't follow her taper cause it was for someone who takes the Maximum of 8 50mg a day.But for me, 20 of them a day, with no side effects but possitive ones. But the withdrawl is the only sideeffect and if I tell anyone I take so many I may loose my prescription or something and I can't bare the thought of losing the one thing that took me out of depression, took me down three pants sizes, made me socialble, kept me energized from wake to bedtime. It's just such a possitive change in my life.

But I'm scared. What do I now know about what it's really doing to my insides? Im scared to ask but almost more scared to be told I must quit taking them.

Im lost someone help me please....

Take Care
Avatar universal
20 a day?!?!  I hate to say this, but you have actually made me feel better about my situation!  I am down to about 2-3 a day and moving down (with occational relapses).  I am trying to totally kick the habbit, and having a very difficult time, but glad I am not at 20 a day.  The most I have gotten to was 10-12 a day, but a that point, they usually stopped having any affect, and I'd usually "crash."  I'd clean up for a day, with depression, hot/cold flashes, etc... and then go back to 5+ a day to bring myself back.  

I would strongly recommend planning 2 days of not taking any (throw them away) to bring yourself down a notch.  To do so, you certainly can not go to work, or have any sort of responsibilities.  Get some DVD's (what is best is to rent a TV series you have not watched, House, 24, etc), get a lot of water and OJ, and get comfortable on the couch/bed.

I recently came clean to my live-in girlfriend.  This has been REAL helpful, and has been a real support for me.  I'd recommend getting some similar support!!

All the Best!!!
Avatar universal
i was taking 2-3 tramadols every 2-3 hours for my pain (L5-SI) my primary doctor gave me vicodine - i weined myself off the tramadols - i took my last one last saturday - i too had the decrease appitite - i've lost 25 pounds - i am taking vicadine and lortab now - the pain is constant and at a 15 at all times.  

yes get off the tramadols - the doctors don't realize the side effects - there are a lot more side effects to watch for - look them up in WEBMD - i was on tramadol for 6 months and kept telling my pain management that there was something wrong - they told me to increase the dosage - sounds great huh!??  i'm starting to get back to myself but i do have more pain - think i want the pain better than the tramadol problems - take care
Avatar universal
To avoid getting addicted to all my various meds, tramadol, robaxin, percocet, etc... I alternate meds and try to go at least one day without meds altogether. So far it has worked but pain relief is minimal.. I am so sorry for everyone's pain and problems. Someday, hopefully, there will be cures for us all.
Avatar universal
I know what you are going through.
I too, am dependent on tramadol, and have been ever since I was taking it for pain from a car accident 1.5 years ago.
I take around 400-500mgs a day, and I was unsuccessful at stopping cold turkey. I tried (and failed) stopping cold turkey 3 or 4 times. I just couldn't do it. Too painful to quit.

It's actually very reassuring to read that there are others who have experienced the EXACT same problems I have when trying to quit.
I want badly to quit, but whenever I try I get terrible shakes, quivers, uncontrollable convulsions, and headaches. And I get this weird pain, very deep in my bones (I don't know how to describe it)...

Anyways, I've been lurking on this board and getting some good advice. I hope to get good information here, and I wish you all the best in your efforts to be drug free.
(If anyone has anymore tips or tricks about how to get rid of tramadol dependence, please drop me a line).
Avatar universal
Okay.  Now I'm thoroughly upset with my physician.  I was just switched from my usual Rx for Soma, to Tramadol and Selaxin today by my new doctor.)  Thanks to an insurance change and the requirements of an HMO, I had to switch doctors.)  I had been happily on Soma since January.  A 90 count bottle lasted me 5 months.  I took them PRN at home, and only when the pain was unbearable while at work.  The new doctor doesn't "like" me taking Soma due to it's "addictive" properties.  (Her quote.)  Now I'm reading the affects of Tramadol on here?  My history of neck and back pain started 12 years ago. resulting in a Cervical disc fusion.  1 year ago, I had my second fusion with a metal plate inserted.  I am now fused from C3 to C6.  As you all may know, the domino effect started after the first fusion.  In time, your remaining discs seem to alter and morph into worse shape.  Last December, I also started having extreme pain in my Lumbar region......  The pain is unbearable on occasions and is aggravated by my work.  I'm on my feet 7 out of 8 hours in the day, and usually those hours are spent bending over a patient.....  The pain is intense and the Soma were my only relief.  I didn't mind that the new doctor wanted to give me an alternative, what ever works is what I'll take.  And her idea of something non-narcotic didn't bother me.  But I have never taken nor heard of Tramadol before.  Hence, I searched the web and found this site while looking for some information about the drug before taking it.  I'm now very concerned that my doctor has given me something that is going to really screw me up.  I have no addictive disorders, I rarely drink alcohol, and I do not abuse my meds.  I want to keep it this way.  If I discover the hard way that she has inadvertantly given me something that is going to make me dependant, I will be extremely upset.  The Soma were working just fine.  It was HER perogative to switch my meds.  Can someone give me some advice here?  Should I flush these Skelaxin and/or Tramadol immediately?  Why does Soma have such a bad reputation, yet the doctor is so willing to put me on something that may alternately make me worse in the long run?  Is there such a stigmata on prescribing pain meds that these doctors would rather give you something that they are aware could cause furthur problems just to avoid a bad rap?  To put it mildly, I'm pissed off.  In the past two hours, I've read online where people are having problems after only a month or so of using this drug.  Someone, please respond and let me know what the poop is here.  I'll flush these things in a second flat.  Is Tramadol really that bad of a drug or am I just in a panic?            
Avatar universal
okay I have been taking tramadol for a year now and I have to take 10 everynight and its makes me soo happy I can take care of my 3 year old and clean everything, my boyfriend our relationship has gone downthe drain and he says it because of tamamdol but I'm not so sure he says it makes me a different person. Yesterday we got into a fight and he dumped all of  my pilld down the toliet and It has not even been one day and I fell like I want to die the pain I can't stop moving I toss and turn all night and I just down't know what to do anymore I am soo scared my mom died of taking pills and I don't want to end up like her Please someone help please give me some adive how to stop or how to make it feel better. How long does it take to get it all out of your body so you don't want it anymore????
82861 tn?1333457511
For everyone here who is experiencing depression, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, etc., after lowering or stopping tramadol usage:  you are in withdrawal.  So many docs bought the party line that tramadol was the great white hope because it wasn't supposed to be addicting.  Obviously, that is total BS, but uninformed docs still insist it is a harmless pain med.  Deb-the-Phleb, you have one of those docs, and I really hope you can find a better one who knows what the h*ll she's doing.  You certainly were not abusing your soma, but it has been stigmatized because others have abused it.  The skelaxin just might help you though.

A safe way to detox from tramadol and opiates is with the use of clonidine.  When you go into withdrawal, your blood pressure shoots up.  Clonidine is an old blood pressure med that has been used for detox for many years.  Oddly, it's only clonidine that works on all the symptoms of withdrawal along with the bp problems, so accept no substitutes.  Since it is non-narcotic, it should not be an unreasonable scrip to ask your doc for if you tell him why you need it.  It's also advisable to purchase a blood pressure cuff while using clonidine - don't want to let the pressure get too low.  You may only need a little bit at night or even every other day.  It will certainly help you stick to a faster taper schedule so you can quit altogether.  Also, since your bp is lowered, it makes you sleepy, so taking it at night is a good thing.

Detoxing on your own rarely works.  Please get a doctor involved, and even a counselor.  Withdrawal, as most of you have noticed, is not just physical - it's mental too.  Your chances of success are much greater if you treat both.
Avatar universal
I too have had terrible problems coming off Tramadol. I had taken it for 5 years starting at 600 mg (3 100mg am 3 100mg before bed) and reducing slowly to 200mg a day all slow release for chronic back pain. It has helped me reduce the pain to a manageable amount but definitely slowed me right down. I have just had an artificial disc and a plate screwed into by spine which has reduced the pain by about 33% and this should decrease a bit more over the next 6 months and I feel I can live without Tramadol. The advice is whatever dose you are on reduce it slowly by 50mg a week until you are down to 150mg a day (1 first thing 1 midday 1 bedtime) then knock off the midday one then the morning one then the bedtime one Hey Presto your free! Remember though do it at your pace if my  weekly reduction is to fast. I wrote down a programme (sorry my English spelling) so I knew where I was.
Good Luck you can do it.
Avatar universal
At what dosage could Tramadol start to become addictive?I have been taking them for almost a year now.
82861 tn?1333457511
tool, there is a big difference between addiction and physical dependence.  Addiction is a mental sickness where a person has mental cravings for the high that a medication causes and results in lying, cheating and stealing to obtain the drug.  Physical dependence refers to the normal dependence the body reaches after you take a med for a certain amount of time, and causes withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.  Are you taking the tramadol as prescribed?  After a year of daily use, you would probably need to taper off it slowly to avoid withdrawal.
Avatar universal
I take 2000mg to 3000mg a day any recommendations or I am just ******!?

I really want and need to quit and tried it once for 20 days (cold turkey), I suffered alot but I managed it but I am back again. I read alot about the dangers of sudden stopping and it might have alot of side effects, anyone can assure or deny that!? Please help cause I am really ******.

Note: I take alos muscle relaxant along with hash when I am high....you have to try it yourself to kknow what I am talking about:)
82861 tn?1333457511
Have you posted over at the Addiction Form here at Med Help?  I think you'll need to taper slowly to get down from that high of a dose to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.  Since you' ve already gone thru detox and relapsed after 20 days, you're definitely going to need some support to stay in recovery - like NA or a private counselor.  Another good recovery site is Opiate Detox Recovery at heroin-detox.com.  
233272 tn?1239005824
Hello fellow Chronic Pain Persons,

I saw the post about the guy asking about Tramadol aka Ultram. And the long term affects. Well, let' just say I have been on the medication for about a little over 5 years now. I take 100mgs every 6 hours, and I have been doing that for 4 years.

I have gotten off the medication many times to check my pain severity. Consequently, my Nerve Damage returned with its full force. Severe pain, Diarria, Chronic Fatigue. And a few other unpleasantries. After getting off it for over a month each time and not seeing the quality of my life get any better, nor the pain go away. I have chosen to take as I just said.

I am looking at “quality” of life rather then quantity; moreover, Tramadol as my Dr. has told me has very little side effects concerning the heart and other vital organs. Since, I live with Nerve Damage aka Sever Chronic Pain. I would rather use the medication to function in life.

As I have been on it for almost 5 years at 400mgs in a 24/7 period, and I am not in ER or needing to join a recovery group, nor up the dosage.., I am one who says` this drug for me has been very helpful with chronic pain.

If you are sick even after you have been off the medication for a month, then you need to remember why you started taking the medication in the first place. I too was always tired and sick before I got on Ultram. Today I see no need to stop. I plan to take it one day at a time. Even with my high dosage, I still feel pain throughout my body. I crushed my brainstem about 6 years ago...

So, if it works while you take it, maybe do what I do to not have to deal with withdrawal. I take my pills every 6 hours. Yep’ I wake up at 6am and go back to bed. Then again at 12pm - 6pm  -12am and again at 6am this has kept my pain within reasonable control, and I am not trapped in my bed. I also receive energy from this medication an unforeseen but good extra.

I will try to check this site and post any question you might have about Tramadol/Ultram

Avatar universal
Does this mean that there are no physical/health risks with suddenly stopping that high dosage!? I do have the will and I know myself; I can do it. So my main question is will I be in problems if I suddenly stopped taking my dose, and I dont mean withdrawal symptoms by problems, I meant serious/life threatening ones. Thanks for your help
Avatar universal
I stopped cold turkey 9 days ago.  It was hell.  By the end of the first day I was having hot flashes,d severe sweating, my body my aching so bad and I really thought I was going to die.  I still don't feel great, but I am doing.  Tramadol is so bad for you!!! Get off of it however you can.  Be strong!!  You can do it.
Avatar universal
I broke my neck a year ago and my doctor had prescribed them. I am now ranging from 8 to 10 a day. I figured I would try xanax (doctor prescribed them to me for anxiety) to try and help with withdrawals. I get really tired but anxious at the same time. Although Xanax doesn't help with most of the symtoms, it does help with the anxiety and restless leg problem during the night. I do not have a problem taking Xanax but it is a very addictive drug so some might. Gradually, when the withdrawals go away, wing yourself off the Xanax. Start off by only taking one a day (.5 mg) but ONLY when desperately needed. When symptoms start to subside, take an over the counter medication tylenol pm (take only as prescribed) to help with the insomnia. Hopefully by then, you can switch to sleepy time tea :). I know what everyone on this board is going through. It was a drug that made me feel great and energized and I was happy taking them. I cannot find anything online stating what this drug can do to your body but I just assume it can't be good. Try what I suggested. It couldn't hurt.
233272 tn?1239005824
Oh no.., If you stop cold turkey after being on the product for over a month there will be discomfort. Plus I feel this is irresponsible. Taper off. Go from what you’re doing to one less each week until you are down to 1/2 a pill. By that time the withdrawals should be minimal.

Like I said, I have been on the product 5 years now. No poop problems, not heart or liver trouble, and no overwhelming pain except on some days or times when I do too much activity. So, yes you can stop Ultram/ Tramadol. However, to just stop could cause serous health risk! It defiantly has withdrawal issues.

I have talked to a couple real well respected neurologists Dr. Harbaugh and Dr. T Jones in Santa Barbara California. Please don't call them or look them up unless you live here and plan to use them as a doctor to treat your chronic pain.

Be back to check in later.

PS I have a section at rockhawk.com that deals with Chronic Pain issues and the latest medications. I am looking forward to when the FDA approves a new one made from Snail deep in the Ocean seas. Some kind of poison in its skin that they have synthesized for pain relief.

233272 tn?1239005824
Concerning health issues with Tramadol/Ultram. If you are doing it and it causes your urine to turn orange, or your poop to turn dark black, then you are doing too much. As these are signs of liver failure, or trouble.

I tried talking to a doctor about Adderall. It is Medical Meth. As I just want to know if anyone has ever tried this for Chronic Pain? It is a very addictive thing as are most pain pills, yet this drug was used in the 1970’s physiatrist industry to help couples with intimacy issues.

Today it is mostly used for ADD and narcolepsy. It releases pleasure in the brain. I was thinking pleasure is preferable to pain. What most pain patients want is quality of life as long as we have to live this way.

However, the Doctor I saw was unable to grasp the idea of pain treatment with this drug and would not discuss its use as a pain treatment. His reasoning was "I am not a pain Dr." I am sure he could have been more helpful if he would have thought to look at me as a person with nerve damage and trying to find alternative treatments.

As it was, he was old school.

Either pain is in your head, or you are just an addict and can not handle the pain. Anyone here should understand this Chronic Pain is not just something you handle; it is something you need to keep in check, so you can participate in life and not be bed ridden or become seriously anti-social.

Well, I hope to hear your thoughts on Adderall as a new treatment for chronic pain.

Avatar universal
So I seem to be in the same boat...Moving from Vicodin to taking tramadol for at least a year. I was taking 2 50mg pills 3 x's a day, so 300mg a day. My dr. wanted me to try 300 mg of Ultram XR which I was glad to try, but got no benefit from. I wonder why. I even took 2 which doubled the amount I was taking before and still didn't get relief from the pain. Was I having withdrawals? I saw the thread about taking Effexor to get off the Tramadol, but what do I do for the pain that I have? Is there another solution?
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