Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic, often sold under the brand name Ultram. This narcotic may be prescribed to relieve pain after surgery or a medical procedure. People who take tramadol for a length of time may become physically dependent on the medication. Once a person realizes their body is craving the drug, they may wish to get off tramadol permanently.
Stopping tramadol abruptly can result in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, including chills, diarrhea, nausea, and sweating. The best way to taper off tramadol is in a medically assisted detox program.
Vertava Health provide on-site detoxification at our rehab centers across the U.S. In this supervised setting, medical teams help patients taper off tramadol with the help of certain medications and therapies.
Tramadol Tapering: What To Expect
It’s important to know what to expect as you taper off tramadol. The first step in tapering off tramadol is to speak to your prescribing doctor. Your healthcare provider may advise against quitting tramadol “cold turkey.” Without a tapering schedule and medication, tramadol withdrawal can be severe, and last up to ten days.
If you or someone close to you has been getting tramadol off the street, it’s still important to speak with a medical professional about how to safely taper off the drug. Share the exact amount of tramadol you have been taking, so the healthcare provider can decide which therapies to suggest during the tramadol taper.
Once you have been evaluated by a medical professional, you will have a better idea of the best course to take for a tramadol taper. Depending on the type of taper a person chooses, they may experience withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to severe.
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Types Of Tramadol Tapers
There are several ways to taper off tramadol. The most important thing to understand is that it is safest to taper off drugs in a supervised environment. Without the high-level medical support of medical detox, patients may succumb to relapse.
Withdrawing from opioids like tramadol can be an agonizing process. During detox, people may suffer from insomnia, vomiting, anxiety, and convulsions. If a person chooses to taper off the drug on their own, they will likely experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. This can feel overwhelming, as detox symptoms can be both physical and psychological.
Because of the intensity of opioid withdrawal symptoms, many people find it beneficial to be in a supportive environment throughout the tapering process. Some people may have supportive home environments, with a family member or friend who is able to help them through the detox process.
For others, it’s better to be in a more stabilized environment. In a medical detoxification program, doctors monitor the patient’s status and prescribe medications to ensure the patient’s comfort. Being in a medical detox program allows patients to taper off tramadol with the benefits of supervision and medication-assisted treatment.
Tapering Off Tramadol With Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medical tapers are dictated by a physician, based on the unique needs of each patient. These may include evaluations and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). One of the most common ways doctors help people taper off tramadol is with buprenorphine-based medications.
Among those who have used tramadol for a short period of time, doctors may decrease the dosage by a small amount each day. For those who have been using tramadol long-term, healthcare providers may slowly lower the dose each week, until a person is fully detoxed from the substance.
To offset any withdrawal symptoms, doctors may also prescribe buprenorphine-based medications like Suboxone or Zubsolv. These drugs are partial opiate agonists, and help to reduce cravings. Doctors will determine the appropriate timing and dosage of buprenorphine-based MAT, based on the individual needs of each patient.
Some patients may benefit from tapering off tramadol with lorazepam and clonidine (instead of buprenorphine). These medications are not opioid replacements, but instead, work to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that can occur when tapering off tramadol.
How Long Will It Take To Taper Off Tramadol?
The timeline for tapering off tramadol can vary, based on factors such as the amount is taken and the length of time a person was using. Tapering schedules should be monitored by the prescribing doctor or a medical detox staff member, in order to keep patients safe and comfortable throughout the detox process.
Opioid withdrawal typically lasts between 4-10 days. Based on how the patient is feeling, physicians will determine the best length of time between tramadol dose reductions, along with any additional medications the patient may require.
Reasons For A Tramadol Taper: Why Stop Taking Tramadol?
There are several reasons a person may want to stop taking tramadol. Many people do not like being dependent on a prescription drug, especially if it begins to interfere with their work or home life.
Other people may notice that they require higher doses of tramadol to get the same effects and avoid withdrawal symptoms. This is called having tolerance. When a person realizes they need to take ever-increasing amounts of the drug, they may decide it is time to find an alternative.
It’s possible to stop taking tramadol for good. If you are ready to get off of this medication, talk with your doctor or consider a medical detoxification program.
Treatment Options For Tramadol Dependence And Withdrawal
Detoxing from opioid-like tramadol can be a slow, difficult process. Many people who begin this process do not have adequate support. This can lead to relapse (return to the drug). Sadly, withdrawal and relapse keep many people stuck in the cycle of drug dependence.
At Vertava Health, we provide detox programs and inpatient treatment for those who are suffering from tramadol abuse. Our compassionate medical staff help patients safely taper off tramadol and set them up for long-term recovery with counseling and medication-assisted treatment.
Once a person has successfully detoxed, they begin treatment that includes individual therapy, 12-step support groups, and relapse prevention strategies. Patients also practice coping skills that help them learn how to manage life without substances.
To learn more about how to safely taper off tramadol, or to explore medical detox programs near you, reach out to one of our specialists today.