Dangers of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

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Table of Contents

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is an opioid analgesic classified as a Schedule IV drug. Schedule IV drugs are associated with a low potential for abuse and dependence. While they are not as addictive as some drugs, a dependency can form if the drug is abused, especially if it is mixed with other substances such as alcohol. 1

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Street Names for Tramadol

Tramadol is typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain and is often recommended after surgery. The extended-release capsules may also be used to treat chronic, ongoing pain. Tramadol is also called by many other names. Some of the most common street names for Tramadol include:
  • Chill Pills
  • Tramal
  • Trammies
  • Ultras

Scope of Tramadol Use

A 2020 study looked at Tramadol statistics from 2002 to 2017. It showed that 4% of Tramadol prescriptions led to misuse and also revealed that lifetime tramadol misuse was 1.5% or less. The drug has a low prevalence of misuse as compared to other prescription opioids. 2

Is Tramadol Addictive?

There are many reasons why people may abuse Tramadol. These include:
  • In some instances, a person may feel that the amount of Tramadol they’ve been prescribed is not doing enough to relieve pain. They may increase their dose and begin building a tolerance that fuels addiction and dependence.
  • A mood or mental disorder can also lead to Tramadol abuse. The drug may produce a soothing effect that relieves mental health symptoms, and some may use the substance to self-medicate.
  • Someone may begin taking Tramadol for recreational purposes because they enjoy its effects and then develop a potential addiction. 

Is Tramadol Safe?

Tramadol is safe if it’s taken according to dosage recommendations. It’s generally best to take the lowest doses for the shortest amount of time possible. If you exceed your recommended dosage, an addiction may form.

Dangerous Drug Interactions

Tramadol can also be dangerous when combined with other drugs. For instance, it should not be combined with MAOI inhibitors, serotonin-percussors, and other serotonergic drugs, as it can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. 3

Tramadol and alcohol are a dangerous combination as well, as both are central nervous system depressants. Mixing opioids and alcohol can have suppressive effects on blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. The slowing down of these functions can lead to organ damage or even death.

How is Tramadol Used?

Tramadol comes in both tablet and liquid form. The regular medication should be taken every four to six hours orally, or as much as the prescription dictates. The extended-release formula can be taken once a day.
If you exceed the recommended dosage of Tramadol or take it without a prescription, this can become dangerous quickly and is considered abusing the substance. Mixing Tramadol and alcohol is another form of abuse.

Is Tramadol an Opioid?

Tramadol is an opioid. Opioids are often prescribed to treat pain and they interact with opioid receptors in the body to increase feelings of wellbeing and decrease pain. Mixing opioids and alcohol is never recommended.

Is Tramadol a Narcotic?

A narcotic is a drug that affects mood or behavior. The term is usually used to refer to illegal drugs that have a high potential for abuse. However, Tramadol is considered a specific type of narcotic opioid approved to treat pain. 4

Side Effects of Tramadol

There are several side effects of Tramadol, some of which are short-term and others that occur more after having taken the drug for a long period of time.

Short-Term Effects

Some common short-term effects of Tramadol include:
  • Elevated mood
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Long-Term Effects:

Long-term side effects of Tramadol may include: 5
  • Alzheimer’s 
  • Parkinson’s 
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin syndrome

What Happens When You Mix Tramadol and Alcohol?

Several things can happen if you mix Tramadol and alcohol, including:
  • Overdose: Mixing opioids and alcohol can slow down vital functions causing an overdose. 
  • Atypical Responses: Atypical responses mean the person may not act in a predictable fashion as compared to how they would act if they took only Tramadol or alcohol alone. The unpredictability can lead to dangerous situations. 
  • Poor Judgment: A painkiller and alcohol combination enhances feelings of well-being, resulting in poor judgment that increases the risk of dangerous behavior. 
  • Physical Dependence: Taking chronic pain medication and drinking makes the body used to having the drugs in its system. When the drugs are not present, the body is unable to function properly. 

Tramadol Addiction Treatment

Mixing opioids and alcohol is dangerous, but there are methods for treating alcohol and opioids, whether you are dependent on one or both.

Detox

Detox is typically the first step in treating alcohol and opioids. It requires allowing the body to rid itself of illicit substances. Withdrawal symptoms will appear, but medical staff at a treatment clinic will oversee the process and take measures to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Sometimes treating alcohol and opioids takes a combination of the two.
  • Inpatient treatment requires the patient to stay in the clinic 24/7 for a set period of time, usually one to three months. They will undergo detox and therapy. 
  • Outpatient treatment requires the patient to split their time between therapy and everyday life. It can be the primary form of care, or it can be a follow up to inpatient care. Patients typically start with partial hospitalization which involves six to eight hours a day of therapy. Eventually, that will taper off to just a few therapy sessions a week.

Therapies

There are a variety of therapies that can be used for treating alcohol and opioids. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common. It addresses unhealthy thought processes and encourages healthy coping mechanisms. CBT may be combined with alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, and nutrition as well as other traditional strategies.

Get Help With Profound Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with Tramadol and alcohol addiction, or any other form of dependence, we are here to help. There are many facilities that offer Tramadol and alcohol treatment, but Profound Treatment takes an approach that sets us apart. We offer an evidence-based model based on psychology, medicine, and neuroscience.

We combine this with holistic methods to ensure all of the patient’s needs are addressed. Our knowledgeable and skilled staff are here to support you every step of the way during recovery, starting at detox and going all the way through to aftercare programs. We will meet with you in order to curate a treatment plan that is specific to your needs so you can know you’re getting the best care possible.

Reach Out and Begin Your Sobriety Journey

Addiction can be scary, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Call Profound Treatment today and we will help you take the steps you need to move forward.

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