stressed out woman pulling her hair

Doctors love tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet) because it is perceived as safer than narcotics like hydrocodone (Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, etc.) or oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet, etc). Many prescribers are unaware of the withdrawal reaction that can occur when people try to stop tramadol suddenly.

There is a sanitized term for this extremely disorienting condition: “discontinuation syndrome.” It does not begin to describe what some people go through when trying to stop tramadol. At last count there are over 300 comments about this problem with this article. Some are truly hair raising. To read them all, click on the box at the bottom of this page labeled “Older Comments.” But first, the question that started this thread:

Q. I have been taking Ultracet (tramadol) for several years for back pain. I was taking 100 mg three times a day as prescribed. The pain is better and I tried stopping the tramadol and had a terrible reaction.

I went to my internist who advised that I stop taking the tramadol over a period of time. I am now taking 50 mg three times a day but cannot get any lower than that without experiencing nerve twitches in my legs and intense jitteriness that interferes with my sleep.

Have you heard of similar problems and do you know of any way to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms without getting hooked on another medication?

A. Tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt) is a strong pain reliever that was originally thought to have opioid-like activity without the same potential to cause addiction as morphine or similar narcotics. To quote the “experts,” tramadol was thought to have a “low potential for abuse.” In other words, it wasn’t supposed to cause physical dependence or produce a “withdrawal syndrome.”

It turns out the drug is a lot more complicated than many experts first believed. In addition to its analgesic action via opioid receptors in the brain, tramadol exerts a profound effect on other neurochemistry. That means that brain chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine are profoundly impacted by tramadol. Sudden discontinuation can bring on a host of symptoms including:

Tramadol Withdrawal:

  • Anxiety, mood swings, irritability
  • Brain zaps (shock-like sensations), tingling
  • Sweating, chills, goose bumps, shivering
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulties, nightmares
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations, unusual thoughts
  • Aggresiveness

Some of these symptoms may persist longer than many health professionals realize and there is no one-size-fits-all tapering program. People vary greatly in the way their bodies adapt and recover. It may take several months to gradually wean yourself from tramadol. You should not attempt this on your own. A health professional who understands the complexity of the drug may be essential.

Many of the withdrawal symptoms associated with tramadol are reminiscent of those linked to sudden discontinuation of antidepressants like sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) or venlafaxine (Effexor). Symptoms can include dizziness that will not quit, brain “zaps” or “shivers” that are a bit like electrical shock-like sensations, sweating, insomnia, headaches and difficulty concentrating. Read stories from readers who tried to get off antidepressants like duloxetine (Cymbalta) at this link.

The FDA has not provided physicians with clear guidelines on how to phase off such drugs. We frequently see recommendations like “gradual withdrawal,” but no one bothers to provide clear instructions about what that really means. We’re really sorry that we don’t have any great insight on this process either. Readers have shared their own solutions at this link.

Although many people can relieve their acute or chronic pain with tramadol, here are some symptoms to be aware of while taking this medication.

Tramadol Side Effects:

  • Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue
  • Restless legs
  • itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating, flushing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia
  • Skin rash
  • Serotonin syndrome

Please note serotonin syndrome above. This can be a life-threatening situation and can be precipitated if tramadol is combined with other medications such as “triptans” prescribed for migraine headaches or antidepressants that affect serotonin. ALWAYS check with a pharmacist about the drug interactions before combining tramadol with any other medication. To learn more about serotonin syndrome, click here and here!

Share your own tramadol story below and please vote on this article at the top of the page.

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  1. Rosemary L
    South Africa

    I have just become ill with sever pains in my legs and numbness in my arms.

    I decided to reduce Tramadol by 50% to just 25mgs twice a day. I have taken it for years.

    It causes severe withdrawal symptoms. Thanks for all the other testimonies of what serious trouble you can land in. At least I am not alone.

  2. TheDoc

    I don’t know which words I should start my story with. I am just like thousands of you who fell victims to Tramadol. I can’t deny that opioids whether natural or synthetic are like a miracle when it comes to relieving almost all types of pain.I am a physician and I have spent a couple of years working for many different rehabilitation centers and I have witnessed hundreds of addicts just like us. I wasn’t an addict then but I always felt curiuos and wondered why do these people love Tramadol? Would it really make me feel high and better in my life? Is quitting it as hard as they describe? I have made the worst mistake in my short life so far . I started to take it and yeah I started to know the secret behind it.I don’t want my comment to be long and boring so I will only mention the important points. I have been an addict since 2013. My doses have ranged from 400 mg/d to 1000 mg per day. I have asked my friends to consider me like a patient and start to cure me and forget that I am actually their collegue at work . I failed myself once and twice. I left my work and felt very ashamed of myself and I decided to stay at home and go on cold turkey. It also didn’t work. I just rush to the meds by the time I start to feel the withdrawal symptoms. I can write down hundreds of comments about how to quit it and how we should all think for the best of us ,but I wouldn’t lie because I am already an addict too and I really don’t know how long this will take until I get my normal life back. You cannot imagine how ashamed of myself I am each time I look in the mirror and ask myself : why have you done this? Is it curiousity or it is just my bad luck. I have no power to shed any more tears over this horrible experience . I am disappointed in myself.

  3. Sam_P
    New Zealand

    Ok, judging by all the comments on tramadol withdrawal I’ve read here there’s no doubt I experienced the same when I stopped taking it a month ago at Xmas.
    The increasing sleepiness when concentrating hard while reading, driving or doing many tasks I’m now experiencing is a major concern, but without my daily 200mg joints are too painful to allow sleep or extended sitting. Tramadol it is. Year 3 begins :/

  4. Kellie

    So I have been on tramadol for chronic joint pain since 2010. I haven’t been taking up some of the high doses discussed here but 80 to 100 milligrams a day. Somewhere 4 days ago I lost my prescription bottle so I decided screw it let’s try to get off of it. I wish I had done my research I have been experiencing pretty much every symptom describe here. Praying for Relief to come quickly. I don’t know if the dizziness or the sweats and chills or worse. My knees hurt so bad I almost called my recovering alcoholic husband to stop on his way home from work and get me a bottle. I’m a recovering alcoholic. Wish I’d never ever heard of Tramadol, but it seemed a better option than liquefied my kidneys with high doses of ibuprofen. Now that pot is legal in Nevada, I’m thinking I’m going to try low THC high-cbd strain and see if that gives relief without making me stupid

  5. Philip
    Rock Hill, SC

    Hello everyone! I was introduced to tramadol back in around 2010-2011 I think for my chronic LBP. I tried it at the typical starter dose of around 50 – 100mg / day. It did nothing for me, so I stopped taking it after about 2 days.

    Fast forward to around late 2012 and a friend at work said he had something that may help my back. Again, it was tramadol. So I tried it again and this time I noticed that not only did it help my back, but it pepped me up and elevated my mood ALOT! It made me feel like I was ready for anything.

    Well, I found that over the years, I developed quite a tolerance, working up to well past the maximum daily dosage (400mg I think). I was take around double that a day just to stay afloat. What fed this was that I was getting it from the VA (300mg maximum, right before the drug was scheduled) buy the DEA. Again, like so many others I have seen on here, it was told to me that it was not addictive by my doctor, so I thought I was good.

    At this point, the VA fee based me to an civilian pain management clinic. After getting some injections in my back, they offered me tramadol as well. I can’t remember if they were supposed to coordinate with my primary care and the Rx’s I was getting from the VA, but I said ok! So I figured it would be replacing my current Rx for tramadol from the VA, but I was wrong. So now I had a supply of more than I was currently taking, so even though I thought I could control how much I was taking, I found myself running out of both Rx’s, but ‘luckily’, they overlapped, so I never really ran out. This was all well and good, but occasionally I found myself running low or out and would have to cut back until my next Rx arrived from the VA or a pickup at my pharmacy from the pain mgt doc. This went on for a couple of years. about 1 year and a half ago, my pain mgt doc changed and I was seeing another doc. He worked kind of like the last until last August / September, when I was due for renewal, the pain mgt doc finally caught on and now I was down to just my VA tramadol Rx at just 200mg’s per day. At this point, I was ready to stop as I had felt shame and guilt about this for far too long, even though the tramadol does quite a great job at hiding that as well!!

    So, I had resolved to get off of them by whatever means I had available to me. I tried using a natural plant called kratom, but found that it was to be made illegal by the feds at the end of Oct. 2016. I ordered some of the Kratom and tried it, and it did work a little, but knowing it was going to be banned soon, I fell back to the tramadol. I started having some medical issues in mid-October and long story short, along with some very strong convictions from God, I decided enough was enough. I tried tapering off of it, but found that all that did was to prolong the inevitable. I am so sensitive to it now, that if I was to take even a single pill, it would pretty much equal the same type of high I would get when I was taking my maximum at whatever point that was. It was one of those things that you hated to love anymore, if you know what I mean. So, last Saturday or Sunday, I had enough and stopped cold turkey. I have had enough! It was not the real me! I wanted to feel like the old me, before I started taking them and shed this false facade and with the help of my almighty God! I needed this, and I couldn’t do it without Him!

    So here I am. I have follow-up CT scan coming up on Monday for the problem that started back in October. I have no idea what it will find, but I have faith that my Heavenly Father will get me through it!

    So right now, I feel ok physically. There are a couple of things to point out, and I don’t know if anyone else has observed these withdrawal type symptoms, but I have what I would call waves of seemingly very strong anxiety where my heart will feel like it is pounding out of my chest, and at other times, I feel sort of just blah! I have had several times so far where I just feel like I am on cloud nine, and I believe that can only come from God himself!

    I won’t give up though, no going back to Tramadol! I have had it with the false happiness it gives you. I just want to feel like me again, pain in my back or not!!

    I also take Gabapentin and have taking it for several years for ‘pain’. Although I found that it NEVER did anything for pain and only ever helped me sleep through the night without getting up to go to the bathroom. I take 1600mg’s of it, only at night, but there is another one that sneaks up on you!!

    Quick question, for those whom tramadol pretty much just gave you the mental boost and put you in a great mood, and have managed to quit without taper, what was your timeline for withdrawal and symptoms, physical and emotional? How long did they last?

    Good luck and God bless all of you that are on it, trying to get off of it! He is with you always!!

    • Steve E

      I had been on Tramadol for about 10 years taking about 150 mg a day. I tried quitting 3 years ago and got the restless legs and difficulty sleeping symptoms. Last time I went to the doctor she made me take a urine test for narcotics. So I decided screw this. Two weeks ago I tapered to 50 mg a day. I then switched to Gabapentin 300 mg 4 times a day which my doctor had given me several years ago but I didn’t like it. Whether it was the Gabapentin or my change of attitude I have had no side effects at all for a week. I have more energy during the day and I sleep like a baby at night. I am also taking small doses of acetaminophen and naproxen. I thought about pot which is now legal in my state but have decided I don’t need it. I will soon taper off the Gabapentin, too, which has no side effects.

  6. Ponchita

    I have been on tramadol for muscle pain and back pain for about a year. My doctor left and went to another practice. My dog got very sick and I failed to see that I had no refills left. This then fell on the weekend and the Doctor’s office would not fill the script. I ended up cold turkey tramadol for four days. I just still can not believe how sick I got. I did call the Doctor’s office and another Doctor filled my script. During the time I did not have it I was very sick with shivers, brain fog, very irritable, lots of pain from not having my meds. I found that the best thing I could do is sleep as much as possible and not exert myself. I was totally drained of all energy and my nerves still feel shot. I had no idea that this would happen. I think I am still in shock how sick I got so fast. I do not think at this time I have any options but take it but I was not informed of how addictive this drug is. If you can control your pain with nonaddictive drugs do it. I do not think I would want to wish this on anyone. It is hard to explain in works how I felt. I lost my ability to do simple housework. So now I have my meds and I will recover but I will be researching on how to taper down over a long period of time. Had I known all of this I would have never taken tramadol.

    • Gerard
      Dublin, Ireland

      Thanks for sharing your story, there are so many parallels to what I myself have experienced. Basically I’ve been talking Ixprim for several years now, I won’t lie here but it started out as a prescription for back pain.
      I found that it made me feel on such a high that I almost felt I’d be useless without it. What I found is that I’d be exhausted so often when taking them, the answer of course is to take more.
      I’d been taking 400mg per day.
      Like you I just got so fed up with this false high, I’ve a little boy now and I don’t want to look back some day and realise it was all hazy and not have all the precious memories I want to have forever.
      Long story short I decided to stop as well, the side effects are not nice. I’m running hot and cold a lot, have the shivers, sick stomach, loss of appetite and big difficulty sleeping. The sleep thing is so annoying, I have this real strange feeling in my knees, like there’s an energy there, it’s strange, I’m also restless.
      All that been said I’m determined to never again touch this drug.
      Forgot to say I stopped suddenly, maybe not the best idea!

    • Becks
      Somerset united kingdom

      Hello sweetie, it’s like reading my relationship with tramadol. I get the whole thing. The pain leads you to it and then it leads you out of it! I lied to myself and everyone about my problem with it. It’s so good to hear your journey and your bravery. I have just finished my reduction so in full swing of withdrawal! Trouble is I suffer from fibromyalgia so i am now without pain meds. But i was taking 800mg plus per day. Lying to friends to use theres or buying them illegally. I’m done with them. I am umder drug and alcohol help service for this and they have been amazing. My biggest problem is the sleeping and leg/arm tremor/twitching. I am single mum and the nights have been hell. Surely this insomnia can’t last forever? Take care and much love to you xx Becks, Bruton, UK

    • Lauren

      I’ve been on tramdol 200 mg a day for ten years. I’ve cut myself to one a day in the last month. I’m nauseous and can’t sleep. I’m going to go to half a pill next month and I’ll be quitting after that. It’s a lot easier than I thought.

  7. James

    I’m a 26 year old male, about 5 years ago I had a bicycling accident in which 6 months later the pain started. I had constant lower back pain, the doctors started the drug route… within about 3 months I’d gone through loads of drugs and was on Tramadol 2×50mg 4 times a day. I slowed myself down and only took them when the pain was severe.

    Now in 2017 I’ve finally had an MRI scan in which point the doctors can’t see anything major and have put me on gabapentin, naproxen, diazapam, amitriptyline && of course more of the Tramadol. A few medical professionals have told me to stop the Tramadol. I’ve tried to slow it down, one less tablet here or there. However all it does is make me feel unwell; such as sickness, dizziness and headaches. I believe because I’m on such a concoction that it’s going to be harder to get off the. Any advice?


    • Glen

      Like a lot of the posters here, if I miss taking my doses of tramadol I become quite ill fairly quickly, cold/flu like symptoms and deep depression after sat 12 hours of missing a dose. I have now been taking it for over 10 years. I have have back pain which will never go away, and without tramadol I would get no sleep and would not be able to work or do lots of things I enjoy. So the addiction or withdrawal issue is a non issue for me. For me it has proved a wonderful drug. I do think it’s not suitable to give for medium term conditions though because of withdrawal issues. For someone like me with a permanent pain condition then it’s fine.

    • Lora M

      I have been on Tramadol for over 5 years after a 4 level neck surgery. I could take up to 6 a day. As I recall, I took 2 in am and 2 at night for 3 years.

      For about a year, I had only ingested 1 in am and one at night. Finally this last year, I had only used 1 at night to help me sleep. Good thing because my doctor dropped my prescription from 200 pills a month to 120. Without discussing it with me. Can they really do that?

      I was perturbed. I have just recently tried to refill my prescription, my doctor wouldn’t refill it unless I came in. 1 1/2 hour drive.
      I cut my remaining pills in halves and quarters. I weaned myself off. Hallelujah I am free of Tramadol. I didn’t make the drive either.

      Other than laughing without being able to stop, or crying in the same manner. I am sleeping much better. I haven’t slept well for 14+ years. Now, I’m hoping my weight will come off too.
      Hope you all five days a good way to quit. God bless you!!!

    • Steve E

      I found that gabapentin, acetaminophen, naproxen sodium did the trick after tapering off of tramadol. I don’t know diazapam or amitriptyline but I think you have to taper off of those, too.

  8. Dawn Lawrence

    I’m on day two without the pill. It is hard! I have R/A and just got prophesied over (God is going to heal you). So that was it for me, no more drugs. I’m feeling the brain shocks, cold-sweats, and anxiety. But I hope tomorrow will be better.

  9. Donna M

    I started tramadol 20 years ago. My sister gave it to me for a headache and I was off to the races. I loved it except when it’s time to go through withdrawal and then it’s Hell on earth.

    There have been many days I wanted to kill myself!! I have found a way to not run out. I told my husband that I’m not going to stop. I feel more normal on it; he’s not happy about it. I told him that I love him and can he accept it I just told him today.

  10. Carla
    Hull. UK

    I lay here at 2:39am going through my withdrawal. I knew that taking tramadol could cause addiction but yet I still took it when the doctors offered it.

    It starts back in May of 2016. I hamate always been a big girl and had decided to start a slimming group to help with weight loss. It was going great until I started getting these pains under my rib cage after I’d eaten. I just put it down to indigestion and moved on.

    As the months moved on, the pain got worse. September 2016 whilst away on holiday, I had the worst pain I had ever felt. I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and pumped with morphine. This was when we discovered I had gallstones.

    After this, every 2-4 weeks I ended up back in hospital resulting in me being prescribed tramadol. I wish now I had turned my nose up and dealt with the pain I had. In the beginning, I felt great. Slept like a baby, pain came back less frequently and was more manageable.

    December 2016, I was told I could have surgery, I was ecstatic!! No more pain relief! No more pain! Normal life! How wrong was I. I only took 8x 50mg for 3 months and the withdrawals are terrible. I can’t sleep, eat, laugh, enjoy the little things, lay still or even spend time with my son. All I think about is tramadol and whether just one more won’t hurt.

    It’s now late January 2017 and I’m desperate for my life back. Do not do it!! Endure the pain until something else can be taken. Tramadol is the devil and ruins people!!!

  11. Marie
    Brownsville, tx

    I am currently going thru severe shoulder/arm pain for the last 8 months or so. No doc has been able to diagnose exactly what’s causing it. X-rays & MRI taken & result was fluid in joint but my arm feels as if it’s broken.

    I am currently on Jardiance & Glipizide for diabetes and was prescribed Tramadol 50mg for the arm pain, taken every six hours. I only took it twice a day, morning & evening. Omg, on first dosage, I slept thru the night like a baby! I awoke feeling so rested, peaceful,& energetic. The days to follow weren’t that eventful. The pain was under control while on the meds and I would feel pain if not taking them. Because docs aren’t able to tell me what’s wrong I decided to drop Tramadol cold turkey. It’s been a week and a half and feel horrible.

    It didn’t occur to me that feeling this way would be related to this, but upon searching in internet, I came upon these withdrawal syptoms. Everything from drowsiness to brain zaps is precisely what I am having. I feel tired, fatigue, my whole body aches, resless legs at night, I’ve not been able to a good night’s sleep, I don’t feel like doing anything, & the pain is still there.

    I am hoping these symptoms $ pain will go away quickly because I really miss myself.

  12. Sarah

    I thought I would add a different perspective on this topic. I’m a 33 year old female that was diagnosed with Endometriosis about 5-6 years ago. At the time, I was a vegan that ate very healthy. I’m 5’5″ and I weighed 125-130 lbs. I was towards the end of my Masters program in Applied Clinical Psychology. I was a person that was very happy and always had an optimistic outlook on life. I was energetic and loved staying active. I enjoyed traveling, going out with friends, exercise, cooking healthy, and loved my career! My life wasn’t always easy, but I’d really reached a great point in my life.

    I went to the ER a few times for severe stomach pain and it was the final one of these visits that led me to a Resident Physician at a teaching hospital. He first suspected my disorder and tried a few initial treatment options. The pain (along with the symptoms pain brings, such as fatigue, headaches, nausea, etc.) was increasing steadily and rapidly. I was finishing my internship, working part-time, and beginning my thesis. As the pain increased, I gradually began doing less and less. I was really pushing myself though, so the decline in activity level was very gradual. Therefore, it didn’t seem like a huge concern to my doctors. Their policy was that they did not treat Endometriosis with pain medications.

    A few times, I was prescribed Vicodin by my family physician before seeing the ObGyn regularly. I didn’t have health insurance due to being in grad school and only being able to work part-time. She knew how much pain I was in and what my life was like. I had never been here before for pain meds in the almost 10 years I’ve been going there. In fact, I rarely went to the doctor. Now, I was going about every other week- desperate for help. She held the pain meds over my head– she prescribed me Vicodin twice, but then wouldn’t refill it the third time until I had health insurance. My ObGyn took about 2 months to see because of how popular the hospital is in my area. She also knew I had an appt. scheduled and was only coming to her for pain meds until I could see him. Anyways, I signed up for really expensive insurance and she kept giving me the Vicodin until I could see my ObGyn. However, because she indicated in her clinical notes that I likely had “Endometriosis”, my health insurance didn’t pay for a single cent the entire year I had it because she believed I had a “pre-existing condition”. I was paying $300 a month for it. Only working part-time, it took almost all of the extra money I had to pay for it. I’m still upset to this day about her forcing me into that situation when I was so vulnerable and desperate.
    When I finally started being able to see my ObGyn more regularly, he would rarely give me pain meds. It wasn’t their policy. I would break down and cry in the office about how my life was slipping away. A life I had worked really hard for. Once, he finally prescribed me Tramadol because it wasn’t a controlled substance at the time and since he was only a Resident, he could write it himself without needing permission. He prescribed 50 mg 4 x’s daily for 2 weeks, so I could “reset” myself and hopefully my pain would be more manageable. Those 2 weeks were the best weeks of my life in that past year. I definitely felt the effect it has on serotonin and norepinephrine- the “happiness”. A mood boost I really needed. It controlled my pain 99.9% of the time. I could actually function again! :) When I stopped after 2 weeks, I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. It was pretty amazing. Vicodin or Percocet always made me feel a little “bad” once they wore off- usually residual pain in my stomach, which wasn’t helpful because that’s where my Endo pain is.
    I told my ObGyn about this and how well it worked. He wouldn’t keep prescribing it though because “it’s not the right way to treat pain”. I was shocked through the years that so many doctors would just write me off and refuse to give me this pain med that worked so well and allowed me to have a good quality of life.
    About 2 years and many doctors later, I had managed to finish my thesis and earn my Masters degree. I began working, but only 6 months later, had to quit without notice. The pain had become unbearable. I could no longer be an effective therapist for my patients. To be honest, I would “blank out” during sessions because all I could think about was my pain because it was so overwhelming. This obviously was not fair to my patients and felt it wasn’t right for me to continue working. Perhaps if I had a different job, maybe I could have lasted longer…? But I simply didn’t feel right about continuing.
    Please note, I had been trying several treatment options, research, alternative therapies, etc. since I had been diagnosed. I was very active with seeing different doctors and trying a ton of different treatments, including Western and Eastern medicine. Pain meds were not the first option.
    Being newly married, having to quit my job about 6 months after being married became a strain on my relationship. It was difficult for him to cope with our life falling apart by this disease you can’t even see. It’s an invisible illness, so it makes it that much harder to be given pain meds because you can’t actually “see” what’s wrong with my body.
    At this point, which is about 3 years ago now, I was declining rapidly. I couldn’t work and doctors would just insist on treatment options that weren’t effective. I was constantly treated like a drug addict, even though I had no history of addictive or drug-seeking behaviors. I’d rarely even go to the doctor. I was always very healthy. Many, many doctors watched me decline, but would still refuse to prescribe Tramadol. Their hesitations are likely reasons you’re all familiar with. I read all of them below. It’s disheartening to read so many negative reviews, particularly when people had become addicted in a way that was no longer healthy and no longer following a doctor’s orders. Yet, it appears so many people blame the medical community. I blame the medical community too, but not in the same way. I blame them for listening to everyone’s negative comments, but not the positive ones. I blame them for only “seeing” the negatives of a drug and not the positives. I mostly blame them for deciding how important my quality of life is…to them.
    So, here I sit, about 6 years after my diagnosis and about 5 years after discovering how well Tramadol worked for me. I have gained 100 lbs., am no longer vegan because I rarely have the energy to cook, unemployed, and extremely lonely because I was no longer able to function socially. Luckily though, nearly a year ago, I met a very caring physician that was willing to prescribe me Tramadol. He would have prescribed me anything- it’s not really specific to Tramadol, just more that quality of life can be a more important factor than side effects and withdrawal symptoms. So, over the past year, it has been a huge struggle. I didn’t even realize how far I had fallen, both physically and mentally. But, I’ve been able to lose about 20 pounds so far, I’ve started cooking healthy meals, being more active, and working on being more socially active as well. I desperately want to work again. I’d love to focus on Health Psychology after my personal experiences because I truly understand now how the medical community MUST focus on and consider one’s mental wellbeing and quality of life just as much as physical factors are considered.
    I agree with everyone’s comments in that the negative side effects of Tramadol can sneak up on you. I got a Rx once in awhile over the year- usually a week’s worth or so- and never felt any negative side effects or withdrawal symptoms. However, since taking it regularly, I have noticed many more negative side effects and certainly experience awful withdrawal symptoms.
    What I don’t agree with, is saying that everyone should avoid this drug or any pain med. I think it’s a bold statement to just simply tell people to stay away from Tramadol because of your experiences. For me, even with the negatives, I still gladly take it daily because it greatly improves my quality of life. Headaches, nausea, muscle spasms, brain “spasms”, fogginess, sleepiness, etc. do suck, but so does pain that is caused by a legitimate medical condition. I gladly deal with the side effects because I know what they are and can prepare for them. Being in uncontrollable, awful pain with no option of relief- now that is an awful, horrific experience because there is no end. So, when we talk about withdrawal, it’s certainly not a pleasant topic for me because I know one day I will want to do that. However, I am totally on board with someone that wants to take it for life because it makes their quality of life better by controlling their pain. That should be their choice.
    Also, even if we took Tylenol daily for 8-10 years, we would experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal and side effects are part of taking any drug. But, the words “drug” and “addiction” don’t always have to be so awful. They are medical terms that have a bad connotation, but addiction is going to happen if you take a drug regularly. Even natural remedies have side effects and withdrawal symptoms. I’ve experienced those as well.
    I don’t understand why we always want to blame doctors though for having nausea or addiction to a drug. It’s our responsibility to monitor how we respond to drugs and determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks. However, so much blaming and anger over things that could have easily been discovered by a little research and preparedness is preventing people like me from getting drugs that could really help them. If Tramadol wasn’t getting so much negative attention because of chills, muscle spasms, etc. from withdrawal, perhaps a doctor would have been willing to prescribe it to me years ago and I never would have gotten this bad. Doctors out there are terrified to prescribe these drugs now because of comments like I’m seeing below. Of course you will have the chance of addiction, withdrawal symptoms, negative side effects, etc. anytime you take a “natural” or prescription drug, remedy, etc.
    Doctors can only know what they know. It is also our responsibility as a patient to keep talking with out doctor about how we feel when on prescriptions. Keep a symptom log or something. Try not taking it for a day to see if you should be concerned about withdrawal. Again though, please think about those of us that really need these pain medications and the message that you’re spreading. Is your message for everyone or just for some people? Is it your doctors fault completely or were you negligent also? This is not about blame, just education. My post is not meant to offend, but simply for people to hear a different story.

    • Kay

      I’m in this same boat now. How are you feeling? I quit 3 days ago and I feel like I have a terrible cold or flu…Does this go away?

  13. Deleshia
    Vernon, Florida

    Hi, All

    Unfortunately for me this isn’t my first time trying to quit this drug! I was prescribed this (non addictive,miracle drug) my a@$ in 2005 after my 4th major surgery for pain and adhesion’s. The first dose should’ve been a warning sign because I immediately felt not only pain relief but an overall sense of well being. At first it worked great for me but then my tolerance began to build and here I sit on my 7th day of cold turkey after an 11 year addiction of up to 30 a day. I’ve just about ruined my life, lost jobs, relationships,cars,ect. because I’d rather buy these little white devil’s than do what I was supposed to. I’m tired…….so tired! I tried tapering and it didn’t work…….AT ALL………for me anyway. Cold turkey has to be it for me.

    I did go to a doctor and came clean about the hell I’ve placed myself in. She prescribed me some Vistaril for the anxiety and an antidepressant because to help. I have been taking these two items for about a month now but found myself craving the Tramadol and caved about 2 weeks ago and went through a script of 120 in 4 days and like 80 I bought from other people in like a week! I know right…………. I felt like a failure but I have realized that it’s now or never! I’m done!

    I came clean with my family about still taking them and I moved in with my parents to help. I’m a 39 year old woman that had to move in with my parents because I became a Tramadol addict, just shameful! I could go on and on about the dangers of this drug if abused so please if you can find a natural way to deal with your pain please do. If not……be very cautious and only take them as needed for REAL pain. So, here I sit on day 7 clean from the Tramadol. I was actual able to get 4 hours of natural sleep last night. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot but after being up for 3 days straight, it’s a God send! Good luck in you guys journey, we can do this!

    • Cheryl

      Very thought provoking article. Thanks for the different point of view, wish you well.

    • Lora M

      Well said.
      I have also gradually gained weight. I’m 5′ 6″ and had gained 45 lbs after taking Tramadol. Because of lack of sleep, brain fog etc.
      I am trying mow to go back down. But I wanted to get healthier and for my livers sake get off this prescription. I give God all the Glory for making this happen. But I agree with you…at the time when I needed some thing for pain, Tramadol worked!

  14. Angela
    Newcastle upon tyne

    I have been on tramadol for over 10 years – 4 taken at night time to help me sleep with fybro myalgia. However when I ordered my last prescription I wasn’t told until too late that I couldn’t get another prescription until I saw a doctor – 1st appointment 2.5 weeks later. I rang for an emergency appointment next morning and got a call back from not my usual doctor who told me doctors are no longer allowed to prescribe tramadol cause it is a controlled drug. This is an outright lie as it has been controlled since 2014 and my usual doctor has continued to prescribe it! Anyway – long story short I have been forced to stop cold turkey and it is worse than original symptoms. I also suffer from depression and at least twice in the last few days of hell I have wished I had nothing to stay for so I wouldn’t feel bad about just opting out. Luckily I have too much to live for but what I would like to do to that doctor probably wouldn’t be considered legal. How a medical doctor can purposely leave a human being to suffer such torture is beyond me! My advice is definitely to come off this drug slowly if you can! Especially if you don’t have a strong support network or a life that makes getting through to the other side worth it!

  15. Richard

    I had back surgery 8 years ago. Was prescribed 100 mg four times a day. I tried comming off of it cold turkey a year ago. Went into a terrible withdraw really didn’t know what was going on. My doctor explain everything to me that I had done wrong. So I went back on it. So last month I started to reduce my amount first 50 mg four times a day. Then to 50 mg per day then off. Well after second day cold sweats, aching body like I’ve never had. Cold symptoms, runny nose , trying to sleep is Hell, I am now on my fourth day. I keep telling myself NO More Tramadol ever. One thing that I have noticed my pain that I had is no more, could it have been phantom pain, I am not sure. Hot baths, and benadryl helps for sleep. Never again !

    • Philip

      I feel your pain. Are you sure it wasn’t a nurse or Physicians Assistant? I don’t think they can prescribe, only an MD can.

      The reason they don’t seem to care is because they don’t know what it is like, most of them, to take the mess they prescribe. They are sold this mess by the big pharma. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of meds are of great benefit, but more emphasis should’ve placed on a cure rather than a bandaid. But what makes more money, a cure, or continual treatment?

      May God bless you and help you stay off tramadol!

  16. IAN

    Well , thats me now been off tramadol completely for 18 weeks after being on it for 10 years ! I am still going through a living hell with withdrawal symptoms . agitation , insomnia , depression , lower back pain , digestive problems , blurred vision . hot and cold flushes and chronic anxiety . it does get a bit easier every week , but only slightly . I have been told it takes a month for every year to come off . I am on sleeping tabs at the moment which do help . STAY AWAY from codeine and any other opiates as they will make you worse , also GABAPENTIN is a no no . low dose diazepam when needed works for a short period at a time. Anyone taking longer to withdraw ? your comments are welcome

  17. Cindy

    I was put on tramadol 50 mg in January for pain from where I broke both ankles. Before this I was on Norco and Percisets. I recently ran out and decided not to get anymore and try to just deal with the pain after having stomach problems. I was told it wasn’t addictive. I only took 200 mg a day. The withdrawls in the past 3 days have caused me to miss work feeling like I have the flu. The tremors and anxiety are horrible. Only way I have been able to sleep is taking Benadryl. The withdrawls are worse than Perciset. Doctors need to get their facts straight. Still having problems but trying to keep busy.

    • Philip
      South Carolina


      I was just wondering why you said Gabapentin was a no no? I have also read the horror stories about Gabapentin withdrawal as well… Is that what you are referring to?

  18. Richard

    I’ve just quit cold turkey. After about day four I have levelled out. I had diarrhea, randomly vomited, and have had little sleep. The worst part is the leg pain and restlessness, coupled with what people call “Brain shocks and body tremors”. I also feel a bit meh.. but I try to stay busy in the days and distracted. I think I’m coming out of the hardest part of the withdrawal. I actually look forward to a life with no tramadol… as much as it helped and was beneficial, I can’t wait to get back to 100% and take my life back! Don’t give up y’all

  19. LorI

    I was taking 800mg/day of Tramadol for a few years, then increased it because it lost its effectiveness. I hated the way it made me feel. I knew better, I’m not good at weaning, so I stopped cold turkey on June 22, 2016.

    At first I don’t remember it being bad. I certainly didn’t crave it. Since about a week or 2 after stopping, I have been in a living hell. Severe, debilitating anxiety like I’ve never felt….I feel like I need to run out of my body and jump off of the planet. Tremors, pins and needles up and down back and neck, sometimes abdomen. Horribly depressed, but I was depressed when I was taking it too. And my whole body has severe itching.

    Constantly. I wish I never would’ve agreed to take this pill. It is poison. Never again. I hope the symptoms get better soon. I’ve heard and read that it doesn’t really even start getting better for about 6 months, and can take years. I was on a huge dose. God help me. Stay away from this stuff!

  20. Barry

    I am so thankful to have found this article.

    For about a decade due to work commitments I had neglected my health somewhat. After 15 years building a business a change of directors put my work load and stress levels to breaking point.

    I broke down and was put on 40mgs of citalopram a serotonin replacement antidepressant. Plus to help me finally get some much needed sleep Zolpidem tartrates. The sleeping tablets worked eventually but as anyone knows antidepressants make you feel worse before you get better. I have never before felt anything like wanting to commit suicide.

    With much help and care from my family especially my wife I got through this very dramatic time in my life.

    I am a 52 year old Englishman and was brought up to just get on with it and not moan or complain. Mental illness was just a weakness of character.

    As I was recovering and trying to deal with the grievance procedure at work my missdiagnosed acid reflux turned out to be a inch gall stone that was jammed in the duct. So I needed my gall bladder removed.

    Once over this I started to get my left knee looked at. I’d had an Early ACL (Cruciate Ligament) replacement 25 years ago. It was falling apart and I needed me knee replacing.

    Finally I had my knee replaced this year . in order to get my recovering moving I was advised I needed to push the exercises but keep my meds high so I could push through the pain.

    3 days post op I went home on gabapentine, Tramadol 100mg 3 times a day. Plus 4000 mg of paracetamol and ibuprofen.

    I tried to get off the Gabapentin but the pain was to much. Doing all the physio it still got very swollen.

    I did eventually get off everything but the Tramodol. Its the only thing that would touch the pain during and post exercise. 2 weeks ago I finally stopped taking them. I was in the Surgery getting a poisonous finger looked at by a nurse who gave my first flu shot at the same time. Since then I have been so I’ll. Flu symptoms , headaches, muscle tremours, weak, feeling so low and depressed again.
    Now I understand why: it’s just Tramadol withdrawal symptoms.

  21. Maximus

    Having been prescribed Tamadol up to 100 mg max four times daily for multiple myeloma, I’ve been on this now for twelve months and am now trying to wean myself off. No advice has ever been received from my medical team regarding the dangers of this drug or of the withdrawal symptoms. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal mentioned by other patients have been experienced, particularly depression, poor sleep patterns, constipation etc. It’s very early in my attempts to wean myself off this drug so can’t comment further at this time. Why oh why don’t the medics come clean with you in the initial stages of suggested treatment?

  22. Kerry

    Well ive taken tramadol on n off for past 6yrs i didnt av clue about tramadol i had unexpected pregnancy 6yrs ago n csection they sent me home with a miracle baby n tramadol. It wasnt until i ran out of these i realised i was getting w/d then. I’ve been on n off em since now im 25 wks preģs stuck on tramadol 3 a day reduceing thro doctor but cant seem to do it i tryed other day i ram out of tramadol omg thought i was dieing dnt ķnow how this will turn out just hope my baby dnt get withdrawls now

  23. Bernard

    I was on Tramadol 50mg x 3 a day for some 16 months following spinal surgery. I was forced to stop them when I suffered severe dizziness, vomiting, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. I was taken to the emergency department of the local hospital as my pulse rate had dropped to 30 a minute.

    There, I was told to stop Tramadol immediately, as all these were known side effects of the drug! And I am a reasonably healthy 64 year-old. I was told that it was a good job I have a healthy heart as otherwise the outcome could have been far worse. Of course, coming off Tramadol suddenly meant that there was no avoiding what I now know to be horrendous withdrawal symptoms.

    It seems that the Tramadol was also causing many of the effects, such as progressive muscle weakness, loss of mobility, and irregular heart beat that I had possibly erroneously put down to nerve damage due to my lower spine problems.

    I was not prepared for what the sudden withdrawal of the drug would bring. The cold turkey was the worst experience of my life, over two weeks of no and then little sleep, severe irritability, severe nocturnal pain in my legs, dizziness, and feeling dreadful all the time.

    Since then, some three months or so now, things have very slowly improved. However, I still have disrupted sleep patterns one or two nights each fortnight, I still suffer from weakness in my legs, from tiredness, from irritability, and an irregular heart beat, all of which I understand now to be secondary efects of this drug, and noone seems to be able to tell me just how long these residual side effects will take to disappear.

    To make matters worse, I now cannot know which symptoms come from the nerve damage in my spine, and which from Tramadol, so in addition to everything else this drug has caused and is causing me physiological confusion, rather than clarity.

    My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of you out there who are facing withdrawal from this drug. I wish it had never been prescribed in the first place.

  24. Darren

    I was on Tramadol 50mg over 2-3 years starting with 2 a day, being raised to 8 a day for severe pain. I found them very addictive as in the effect became less and less.
    Stopping them was a living hell.
    My advice stay off these evil things in the first place.

  25. Ian
    South Africa

    The thing about this medication is that it works where nothing else will. I am 79, have cervical spondylosis which inflicts the most hidious headaches with suicidal depression. I have tried rhizotomy but to no avail and then my doc gave me amatrypteline which helped a little with the pain and a lot with depression. This went on during the whole of 2014. I felt useless and an oxygen waister.

    In January last year I fell and broke my wrist, which needed plating. The surgeon put me on a pain killer called Tramacet and my headache went away. Tramacet is Tramadol and paracetamol. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) I know does not help so I asked my doc for tramadol. He was not keen on the idea but he knew what I was going through so obliged. He is a neighbour and friend actually. 2 x 50mg. turned my life around and enabled me to live a useful life again.

    On Saturday I inadvertently missed my evening dose and had a restless night but thought nothing of it. My wife told me, during yesterday, she had found the missed capsule but other than feeling tired I felt ok. I decided to miss last night’s dose to see if I could get by on my morning 50mg. only: big mistake! I woke at 2:30 am. feeling wierd and found my underpants wet. I haven’t done that in 76 years. I dealt with that and lay sleepless feeling more and more wierd until around 4:30, I gave up and took the capsule.

    So I am hooked but what the hell, I feel well and can do light work and exercise, so, if this stuff lets me live my last few years with less pain, then so be it.

  26. Tramistake

    Going through my 2nd tramadol withdrawal, day 2. Had to ask a family member to come help with the kids and new puppy. After the first I swore I’d never touch the stuff again. I started it again because I needed the stamina to clean a house, I needed extra Xmas money. Now I’m paying for that mistake, once you start taking it and feel like you’re 20 yrs old, you just don’t stop. When I first started taking it I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread…youthful energy, no hunger, no pain…stuff was amazing. Then…..its short half life makes you wonder if the pain you’re feeling between doses is the pain you originally took it for or withdrawal pain. Oh my my….it’s withdrawal pain I tell you. Withdrawals were so bad the first time, my thought follow thru on that instance was pretty foggy when I made the decision to take it again I guess. Now I’ve taken vicoden for many months and NEVER had this type of discomfort by stopping, didn’t even need to taper. My body feels like lead. And that’s only the worst part. Tell your friends, Tramadol is a mistake. Take vicoden or another pain reliever, anything but THIS.

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