man screaming in pain or anger

We have heard from hundreds of visitors to this website about the serious side effects of tramadol (Ultram). They include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, itching, dry mouth, sweating, insomnia and skin rash. Equally alarming are withdrawal symptoms when people try to stop tramadol suddenly. Getting off this drug without great discomfort can be daunting.

People in Pain Often End Up on Tramadol:

Scary headlines about the opioid epidemic have frightened physicians, pharmacists and patients away from opioid analgesics. One of the few medications that is left is tramadol. That’s because health professionals have perceived tramadol as a low-risk pain reliever. It was supposed to have a “low potential for abuse.” In other words, it was considered a non-addicting analgesic.

It comes as a surprise to many patients to learn that tramadol actually does affect opioid receptors in the brain. Even more disconcerting, though, is the impact on neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. Antidepressants such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and venlafaxine (Effexor) also impact these brain chemicals.

Over 1,500 people have commented on our article about duloxetine side effects and withdrawal. Here is a link to that post.

Duloxetine (Cymbalta) Side Effects & Withdrawal

If You Stop Tramadol Suddenly Be Prepared:

The FDA requires a paragraph about withdrawal from tramadol in the official prescribing information. We fear, though, that few patients are adequately warned when they receive a prescription for tramadol:


“Tramadol hydrochloride may induce psychic and physical dependence of the morphine-type. Dependence and abuse, including drug-seeking behavior and taking illicit actions to obtain the drug are not limited to those patients with prior history of opioid dependence…Tramadol hydrochloride is associated with craving and tolerance development. Withdrawal symptoms may occur if tramadol hydrochloride is discontinued abruptly. These symptoms may include: anxiety, sweating, insomnia, rigors, pain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, upper respiratory symptoms, piloerection, and rarely hallucinations. Other symptoms that have been seen less frequently with tramadol hydrochloride discontinuation include: panic attacks, severe anxiety, and paresthesias. Clinical experience suggests that withdrawal symptoms may be relieved by reinstitution of opioid therapy followed by a gradual, tapered dose reduction of the medication combined with symptomatic support.”

Is It Possible to Stop Tramadol?

The answer is absolutely. We do not consider this a do-it-yourself project, however. Stopping tramadol requires careful coordination and supervision from a knowledgeable health professional.

Sadly, the FDA’s guidance leaves a lot to be desired. What precisely does “gradual, tapered dose reduction of the medication” mean? Very few physicians are given clear directions on how to help patients stop tramadol. That is why so many have reported their own experiences on this website. Here is one link with hundreds of stories:

Tramadol Side Effects and Withdrawal are Daunting

A Reader Shares His How to Stop Tramadol Story:

“Two years ago I was prescribed tramadol for arthritis in my upper and lower back, as well as hip. I also had severe leg pain. Over the last two years I moved from one 50 mg pill three times per day to the maximum dose throughout the day (eight 50mg pills).

“Sometimes I’d take 4 or 5 at once depending on the pain. I was never informed that this drug was addictive or that it was an SSRI-type drug. My doctor actually said that it wasn’t addictive! Stupidly I took his word for it and didn’t realize just how bad the withdrawal was until I was forced into. I was working abroad and ran out of pills.

“The first time I went through cold turkey dropping from 400 mg per day to zero overnight. It was horrific. I experienced all-over body pain, flu, vomiting, severe depression and anxiety, brain zaps, fatigue, diarrhea, bouts of feeling confused and angry, paranoia etc. During all this I continued working, though looking back now I must have been a nightmare to be around.

“I had no access to Internet at the time (working in the developing world) and still had no idea what was happening. I thought I had dengue fever or malaria at one point. This all lasted around 5 weeks.

“When I hit home I went straight back to the doctor and got back on the tramadol! I was completely unaware that I had gone through a severe bought of cold turkey withdrawal.

“I decided that 2016 would be the year I would quit this crap for good. At that point I was already down to around 300mg per day (taken in 150 mg doses twice per day). I decided on a longer taper schedule. I dropped 50 mg per week – so 300 mg/day for a week, then 250 mg/day the next week etc. Once I was down to 150 mg I just took all three pills at once in the morning. I always needed at least 2-3 at once to take the pain away. I held at 150 mg for around 2 weeks. I ended up having a relapse due to increased pain, so I moved up to 200 mg/day again for a while.

“Following this tapering method I am now down to 25 mg/day, which means splitting the capsule and pouring 25 mgs of powder into water and drinking it. I’ll hold at 25 mg for a week then drop to 12.5mg for 3 days. After that I’ll do one day on and one day off on 12.5mg for a week before jumping off for good. I figure that 12.5mg over a two week period (with the last week being day on then day off) should be a small enough amount to experience only minimal withdrawal symptoms.

“Last week was the hardest week of the taper. The drop from 100 mg (2 pills taken at once in the morning), to one 50 mg pill was tough. I experienced a drop in mood and felt a little down for three days while my body and brain adjusted to the lower dose. I’ve also noticed a slight increase in muscle pain and back pain since dropping to 50 mg/day. I’ve had a few days of sneezing, bouts of tiredness and fatigue, but once my body adjusted to 50 mg, these symptoms went away. Of course I did experience a slight increase in pain. That’s to be expected though as the tramadol was just masking pain anyway.

“Today was my first day of 25 mg and I feel fine. I actually feel like my mind is a lot clearer! Tramadol definitely fills my mind and leaves my feeling like my head is foggy, if that makes sense. I have no withdrawal symptoms at the end of the first 25 mg day, and it’s been 10 hours since I took it.

“For me, tapering is the way to go if you want to stop tramadol, especially if you are on a high dose. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to coming off tramdol. Every person and every body/brain reacts differently.
“Last Christmas I tried to go cold turkey. Like the first time (when I had no idea what I was going through) it was also horrific. After 60 hours I awoke with severe muscle spasms in both arms and legs. I was an emotional wreck and had all the other typical and some of the atypical symptoms. I took 100 mg and within 20 minutes every withdrawal symptom was gone. That was the catalyst to help me quit. No drug should have that much impact on your body and life. I began tapering a week later.

“One thing that has really helped for me is exercise. I started exercising a lot more around a month ago in prep for the last 3 weeks of the taper. I knew I needed to increase my fitness to deal with the aches and pains of coming off this drug. Even with back problems you should be able to swim or ride a bike–anything to get a sweat on and feel good about yourself. I feel that this has made tapering easier too.

“So, to anyone who is worried about coming off Tramadol I feel tapering is the bet solution especially if you are worried about withdrawal symptoms and/or you are on a higher dose.

“For some people they just want to get off and can deal with 1 week of cold turkey. For others though, that cold turkey doesn’t just last one week. It might be 3 but might also be 6. Tapering has definitely worked for me. I still need to stay strong to make the final leap, but I feel this will be so much easier coming off one quarter of a 50 mg pill rather than a much higher dose. Good luck everyone.”

To read stories from other readers about how they dealt with these problems, here is a link.

Serious Tramadol (Ultram) Side Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms

Share your own story below in the comment section.

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  1. Tammy

    Hello. I wanted to share what helped me quit Tramadol cold turkey after a six year dependence. I tried many times through tapering and cold turkey methods and relapsed every time because the withdrawals are severe and drawn out, plus the post withdrawal associated with it and fatigue is also very drawn out. I used the drug baclofen to stop cold turkey with zero withdrawal symptoms except some fatigue in the first few days. I was taking high doses of tramadol also. Up to 800 mg or more bcoz I built a tolerance. For some reason the baclofen stopped my cravings for the tramadol as well. Then just stop the baclofen after a few weeks. 20 mg baclofen was all I needed. Some people may need more or less depending on their body. It may not help everyone but that’s what helped me. I have been off tramadol for 2 years now

  2. 50/20Vision

    I’m a late-40s lady writing from England. I have been taking Tramadol for around the last 14 months, due to a very painful undiagnosed physical illness, and co-codamol not being strong enough.
    I was put onto Tram with no warning whatsoever of what would soon to occur: getting out of the next bed the next morning I was virtually swimming to the bathroom, going left and right, bouncing off the walls, and could hardly see, just feeling my way there. Don’t the doctors know about Tramadol and its effects?? how bad they are when we first start taking them and how absolutely horrendous it is to come off them, especially cold turkey, either they do not know enough information, as this website advised is possible, or they just cannot be bothered, which it seems to be in my circumstances.
    Either way, tramadol is just not being taken seriously enough, by so many in the medical trade.

    Now – due to moving this March, I had to have a new doctor, and because I cannot leave the bed, and in our city one must go to the surgery to be registered, it took over 4 months for me to get a doctor, hey surgery arranged by the CCG in the end, so in that time I had to get my Tramadol tablets from an out-of-hours service at the local hospital.
    Most doctors obliged, after much questioning, but some didn’t, and I now have a surgery where the boss and relevant doctors are not taking Tramadol seriously yet again, how absolutely important it is to continue every single day without a break full.
    And conclusively, as of today, I have been FORCED to go cold turkey now 9 times, 9 times since March this year, this all through fault of the doctors at the hospital who didn’t understand they are responsible to give out prescriptions when somebody does not have an actual doctor, and the surgery I’m with now where the manager had forgotten to tell somebody to ask a doctor to write my prescriptions out when he’s on holiday, and then on his return changed the prescription day from Friday to the following Wednesday, without consulting me, and completely forgetting that I will obviously NEED those Tramadol in those five days different, in order to survive.

    I don’t think this should be legal. I think it should be illegal to do this, I think it should be totally illegal for a doctor to FORCE a Tramadol taker to go cold turkey once, let alone as many times as I’ve had to, and I just wondered if anybody else on here has had to go through this, and also if anybody knows of any laws that can prevent this that I don’t know about, and, of course ~ the damage this is doing to my body and brain.

    This just cannot happen again. Many Thanks.

  3. Dorothy

    I had bilateral knee surgery April 2016 and another knee operation on one knee eight months ago. I take Tramadol. My prescription bottle reads 2 every 6 hours for pain as needed. I usually take one Tramadol in the evening before bed, but I wanted to stop all pills.

    My doctor said to take Tylenol Extra Strength. I started taking two Tylenol in the am and one at night to sleep. I feel so croggy in the a.m. and everything is foggy. After reading the comments I may try one Tramadol in the am. and one Tylenol ES in the pm.

    If this works I will try to take Tramadol every other day in the morning and pray that it lasts all day and night. Then I will try to discontinue Tramadol.

  4. Zena

    Hi guys
    As I am reading the comments, Is very scary what this drug does in our bodies. Is devastating what I be done while using it. I have no friends any more because I rejected all of them. I never felt like doing much while on tramadol.

    I started having very bad stomach problems and my liver is enlarged. I am almost sure is due to the addiction to this tramadol drug. I got very addicted to it because it made me feel like I had a perfect life. Now is my 3rd day off tramadol and I feel horrible.

    Haven’t slept. I can stop my legs from wanting to kick. I am out of the farmacy and want to buy something for the restless legs. I just hope I can get some energy back. I can’t afford not going to work but I am not functional. I don’t know what to do.I am doing this cold turkey and in my own.

    I’m not sure if I am putting myself in danger. But I want to be the person I used to be. Not this person I became.

    Bless you all in our way to health.

    Love everyone.

    • Augie
      Upstate, NY

      You need to taper-off of Tramadol. I tried cold turkey some months ago. After 3 weeks of withdrawal symptoms I had to go back on a low dose to become functional again. I’m down to just a single 50mg pill per day taken in the morning. I can function during the day but at night I get some restless leg and general irritability. I’ve tried splitting it but because I’m a large man it is ineffective. But I’m ready to try that again because I’m sick of being controlled by it.

  5. LAURA

    I’ve been on tramadol 50 to 100 mgs a day for muscle pain for about 31/2 months. Stopped cold turkey about 3 weeks ago. I had no idea it was addictive. I’m 72 years old, in my entire life I have never experienced such anxiety, to the point that my heart would palpitate. The nausea was horrendous. Couldn’t eat. I lost 12 lbs.

    The panic and anxiety were so bad I took a 1/2 of a .025 Xanax. I’m going to the shrink this week, can he prescribe anti depression meds for me. Tramadol does gives you feeling of euphoria. Aside from pain I truly feel that was another reason why I took it. If anybody out there can help me with the horrendous anxiety. Please help God bless.

  6. Betty

    I was taking 100mg in the morning and at night. Then I went to 50 mg morning and evening. I’m trying to skip the morning and am feeling lousy . I’m still taking 50 mg at night. It does help . I’d like to quit it all but I get nervous and don’t sleep. My appetite has decreased and I’ve lost weight which is okay I guess. Anyway it’s a long haul and I hope to get through it.

  7. Jean
    New Jersey

    I would like to know if I have to slowly taper off Tramadol if I only am taking 300 mg. per day for two weeks. All of the adverse reactions I am reading about are upsetting me. I want to be careful about this, but I cannot find this answer anywhere in all my hours of reading about this. Anyone? Please?

  8. Sharon

    My experience is only that my beloved dog who is a now a 10 1/2 year old boxer had surgery 2 1\2 years ago to replace her knee, ACL, and the other one about out they put her on tramadol 1 1\2 50mg every 8 hrs.

    She’s been on them ever since and had another surgery 10 days ago where they increased the dose. I want her off of them but I’m afraid. The Dr told me in the beginning that dogs does get addicted. Does anyone know for sure or experience with this situation?

  9. AussieLady

    The problem with discontinuing Tramadol is the severe pain of fibromyalgia doesn’t magically go away when you stop your medication!! You can’t exercise it away, or use enough supplements to make it disappear. I’ve tried pretty much everything. I work and have a very active & busy life. I cannot rest on the sofa whenever I’m tired or in pain ….that only can happen at bedtime for me due to obligations. So I depend on opioids & Tramadol as my lifeline to be an active & productive member of society…. my dose has been stable for many years, and I’ve used Tramadol on and off since 1999(mostly on). I take 2 every morning to wake up & be able to move ….then 1 or 2 in the mid afternoon to get me through the workday. No more after then , it’s too stimulating & would interfere with sleep. The current trend of getting every pain patient off of their meds is ridiculous. It won’t stop stupid people who overdose with drugs they obtain illegally. Those types will always find something to abuse. Legitimate pain patients take their meds seriously.

  10. Rick

    I suffered from serotonin syndrome after 4 pills and that was during the withdrawal stage!

  11. Rose

    A close friend of mine was prescribed tramadol 15 years ago. She was taking the maximum dosage, 8 50mg pills per day for quite some time. She’d been prescribed the medication for 15 years and I’m not certain what her initial dosage was.
    She was pulled over for having a taillight out on her truck one night on her way home from work in rural Pa.

    She received a bogus D.U.I. because she was tired from working and answered truthfully when the officer asked her if she was on any prescription medication.
    Even though blood work revealed that there wasn’t even a therapeutic level of tramadol in her system, she was charged with D.U.I.

    My friend was then red flagged by her Dr and abruptly had her prescription for tramadol taken away.

    This happened over a year ago and my friend is still suffering terribly from the withdrawals.

    She was a hardworking 50 year old woman who trained horses for a living.
    Now, she is suffering and no longer able to work.

    What happened to her is just wrong! It shouldn’t be legal to abruptly stop someone’s medication like that! Especially when her blood work revealed that she didn’t even have a therapeutic level of tramadol in her system at the time she was pulled over.

    The opioid guidelines need to change in favor of those who suffer from pain.

    • AstroMouda
      Damietta, Egypt

      I can completely relate with you & am truly sorry for what happened with your friend, Rose?Thanks for sharing, sending my good & positive thoughts/vibes/energy/prayers towards you, your friend, and everyone who’s in pain and have much love of life to go on and on❤️

  12. Charles
    Columbia, SC.

    Once again, I must disagree with your articles about Tramadol. Some of it may well be true, but what could you possibly suggest for help with hellish pain that never stops. I have to work even at age 78, and I am determined to take anything that help me get through the day and night.

    Why shoud anybody like me try to stop the only thing that keeps me going. You say that I am addicted, I say so what at my age. Should I spend what few years I have left to be a working, productive person trying to be what you people think is something horrible.

    You gave the same advice about statins. Once again I did not follow or agree with anything you said. Now, someone very close to me needs triple by pass, and I am clear as a bell.

    If you want to blindly follow the advice that is given: go ahead. I think a lot of it is just plain nonsense.

    • AstroMouda
      Damietta, Egypt

      ??❤️??Greetings to you, Charles??❤️??

      Amen to all :)

  13. Rain39
    Mckinney, Tx

    I have never had problems withdrawing from Tramadol. I have taken it off and on for 10 years, probably a grand total of 125 tablets for fibromyalgia, arthritis in both hips and low back pain frm spinal stenosis.

    I am awaiting surgery to replace one hip which is defective from Johnson and Johnson which is shredding metal in my body and a new problem in my other hip. I no longer use Tramadol by choice because 2 capsules of Tumeric Curcumin with bioperine (pepper) takes care of my discomfort all day. I did use Aleve which helped but quit that because of potential kidney complications.

    I am an Rn with a masters in public health so try to stay on top of side effects. Was also a certified addiction nurse. …retired..

    • AstroMouda
      Damietta, Egypt

      ??❤️??Thank you, RAIN??❤️??

  14. Thomas
    Burleson, TX

    Mine is real simple, I was taking 6 50mg tablets per day for 18 months to help control the pain of 3 back surgerys. One day I ran out and realized I didn’t need them. So I quit 100% all at once, and have never had another and that’s been 2 years now. I experienced a lot of sweating for about a week and that was it. By reading these other stories I consider myself lucky.
    Good Luck to all of ya.

  15. Gina

    I am saddened that my vet prescribed this Tramadol for my dog over 5 years ago. I would not use it daily as prescribed because of the affects it had on him. Then they added Gabbapentin (Neurotin) to the mix. His personality became aggressive. I had to put him to sleep. Unlike people, animals can not tell us what they are experiencing. My heart is broken thinking about all the side affects he went through that I thought were due to his health–NOT because of the darn drugs!

    • Sharon

      My dog hasn’t had side effects and it’s helped her tremendously. Otherwise they suggested putting her down. Are they addictive to dogs. The Dr said no when she started them 2 1\2 yrs ago. I’m concerned but I’ll probably never stop giving them to her. She’s now 10 1\2 and a boxer.

    • Jessi

      Yes it is so addicting for dogs. I had loads of tramadol for a cancer stricken dog and lymphoma dog. I was given this for a back issue and the withdrawal is horrible. I just can’t do it. Now I feel so bad for my dogs because I know they suffered. I will try tapering but pretty hopeless now.

  16. Judi

    I had a similar experience getting off an antidepressant prescribed for insomnia. I would get down to 25 mg and get the worst headaches. My neurologist sent a compounding pharmacy a prescription for liquid and then I was able to taper off more gradually.

  17. Elyse

    I quit tramadol 6 days ago. I had been on it for 4 1/2 years to help with arthritis
    Pain and fibromyalgia. I took this drug in 1/2 pill doses; sometimes one pill at a time; up to 1 1/2 or 2 tablets daily.

    I am not good with drugs (a lightweight) and any more than that made me too sleepy or dizzy. Anyway, I was on a smallish dose, but still had withdrawal and I went cold turkey.

    Over the last 6 months I felt the tramadol was making me feel worse everyday and I knew I had to stop.
    Today–day 6–is the first day I have felt much better. The first 5 days I was tingly all over and had muscle aches moving around all over my body. My legs felt horrible like restless legs syndrome. Had a headache also and quite a few periods of just feeling horrible.

    Anyhow, I’m determined to quit for good. One immediate benefit was feeling more clearheaded.
    Anyway, what has helped me was hot baths, drinking lots of water; heating pad on my restless legs; resting when it felt unbearable.

    The thing that helped the most was exercising. Just moving – walking or in my case, dance class – helped immensely. Also took good vitamins and when I got cravings I’d read this site or other threads about tram withdrawals. It helped to know so many people were going through this.

    I also picked a week to quit when I didn’t have too many obligations or responsibilities.
    Tramadol was a good drug for me for about 4 years; until it wasn’t. I didn’t want to increase my dose as it was already making me feel bad.

    I know my dose was small in comparison to some; but the withdrawal was real. It is an addictive drug no matter what anyone says. It is possible to quit it, though, and I truly hope everyone here who tries has success quitting or tapering.

  18. Mary

    Someone suggested Tramadol to me for pain. Both times I took it I got sick to the stomach and vomited after practically everything in my stomach had already been digested.

    I knew it was habit forming so was reluctant to take it in the first place.

    Unfortunately, I react to most pain killers I have taken even at a very low dose.

    • Trish

      I too was taking a small dosage for herniated disc in my l4 and l5.
      I found that I started needing it to feel ok even with no pain. Today is day four!! The first two days were very tough. Restless leg syndrome sweating insomnia etc. Today I am grateful I made this choice. You mentioned vitamins ? What were they, and did it help??

  19. JWA

    I started taking Tramadol during breast cancer treatment. I also take it now for moderate to severe arthritis pain. I sincerely hope that I will be able to continue taking it because it works for me. My doctors and pharmacists covered all the bases with me and I use it carefully. I am not sure what the next step will be if I am prevented from getting Tramadol for pain relief. Fighting pain effects quality of my life and I certainly feel caught in the middle of the problems with addiction, withdrawal, and detrimental health effects of all pain relievers.

    • AstroMouda
      Damietta, Egypt

      ?Thanks for sharing, JWA❤️

      Sending my good & positive thoughts/vibes/energy/prayers to you and everyone who’s in pain and have much love of life to go on and on❤️

  20. Marilyn
    Spartanburg SC

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and had to stop taking NSAIDs because of my kidney numbers. I tried 50 mg tramadol and had nausea as a side effect. I found a study on the NIH website about compounding medications with acetaminophen (Tylenol)– various NSAIDs and tramodol– and their effectiveness. I decided to try 25 mg tramadol (50 mg cut in half) with 500 mg acetaminophen, three times a day with meals, and found it to be very effective. My hands are doing much better than on the NSAID.

    I am also taking 800 mg per day (divided, on an empty stomach) SAM-e, so I do not know how much of the improvement could be because of that.

  21. wendy

    How about a story on effects on those who take tramadol long-term
    for chronic pain relief? After 2 hospitalizations for GI tract bleeds due
    to long-term NSAID use, tramadol was the only remaining choice for
    my husband. He can’t imagine anyone would take tramadol for recreational
    use, as it does not produce the euphoric effects of opioids.

  22. David, RPh

    Propoxyphene never looked so good. Thanks Ralph Nader and Sidney Wolfe. You got your vindictive wish. You succeeded in getting a great alternative to tramadol removed from the market. No wonder we have an oxy problem.

  23. Peggy

    I can say that while I take Tramadol I am not addicted to it! That’s right – I am not addicted to Tramadol!

    I know how it affects me – it keeps me awake instead of putting me to sleep – I’m “wired” – if I take 50 mg. Since I know this I cut it in half (I use a pill splitter) and only take half a tablet at a time.

    Additionally, I only take it when I really, really need it. I can take it 3 times per day based on the prescription label but I don’t take it that often. It has been several days if not a week or more since I last took a half tablet. I haven’t experienced any side effects or withdrawal issues either.

    I have not allowed myself to become addicted due to having family members who have battled addiction to other medications/illegal drugs/alcohol and how I saw that affect them and the family. I made the conscious decision not to go there myself.

    I guess I’m one of the fortunate ones with regard to this drug!!

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