Getting High On Tramadol – Recreational Use On The Rise

capsules and script bottle


Getting a Tramadol high is becoming more and more prevalent. This drug is a controlled substance, prescribed for the relief of pain. It does interact with the central nervous system. It release dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and euphoria.

  • Prescriptions for it increased 114% from 23.3 million in 2008 to 43.8 million in 2013
  • It’s is sold under a number of generic names such as Ultram and Conzip
  • There may have a slightly lower risk of addiction than other opioids
  • According to SAMHSA, “It can produce a modest level of physical dependence”

According to the World Health Organization; “Based on animal studies, tramadol is an atypical opioid analgesic with mild opioid-like effects.

Tramadol High

Intentionally getting buzzed up on this drug is on the rise. Like other opioids, people are getting “buzzed” on Tramadol. It also increases the brain’s production of serotonin, which can make users feel more alert and energetic. Tramadol can be abused in any number of ways, including:

  • Chewing
  • Snorting
  • Smoking
  • Injecting
  • Taking more than prescribed
  • Ingesting other drugs (including alcohol) while taking Tramadol

The most common methods of abusing Tramadol include:

  • Taking more than the prescribed daily maximum dose – 400 milligrams – of the medication
  • Combining tramadol with other drugs, alcohol (other opioids or benzodiazepines)
  • Crushing tramadol pills and snorting or even smoking the powder
  • Intravenous abuse of Tramadol is much less common as the medication in pill form is more potent

Emergency Room Visits Soaring

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of emergency room visits related to tramadol use spiked from 10,091 in 2005 to 54,397 in 2011. These statistics clearly indicate that Tramadol abuse is on the rise in the United States.

  • The estimated number of tramadol-related ED visits involving misuse or abuse increased about 250 percent from 6,255 visits in 2005 to 21,649 in 2011.
  • Among tramadol-related ED visits involving misuse or abuse in 2011, 20 percent involved tramadol combined with one other drug, 26 percent involved tramadol combined with two other drugs, and 26 percent involved tramadol combined with three or more drugs.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of visits involved this drug combined with other pharmaceuticals only; however, 14 percent involved tramadol combined with alcohol, and 12 percent involved tramadol combined with illicit drugs.
  • Among tramadol-related ED visits in which the patient was admitted to the hospital or transferred in 2011, about one-third were aged 34 or younger (34 percent) and 31 percent involved patients aged 55 or older. The remainder were aged 45 to 54 (22 percent) or aged 35 to 44 (12 percent).

Despite the rise in ER visits, a staggering 40 million prescriptions for tramadol were written for patients in 2012 alone, pharmacist and MedPage Today contributor Nadia Awad reports.

That said, it is not harmless and can lead to dependency, most especially when mixed with other opioids or alcohol. As a result, getting a Tramadol high carries many of the same overdose risks that other prescription painkillers and heroin.

Controlled Substance

In 2014, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) upgraded this drug to a Schedule IV narcotic, which some critics believe is still too low of a classification because of the drug’s withdrawal profile and likelihood for dependency.

Illicit Sources

There are at least 5 primary sources for obtaining Tramadol:

  • Doctor’s Prescription
  • The Streets
  • Online
  • Friends Sharing
  • Family (medicine cabinet)

Attempting to get off on a drug that comes from anyone but a physician is risky considering there’s no way to know if the pills are really tramadol.

Tramadol 50mg

Tramadol comes in several dosages, anywhere from 50 milligrams to 300 milligrams, depending on a person’s condition. While it can be administered intravenously, it’s generally prescribed in pill form.

According to the World Health Organization “100 mg oral tramadol was found to induce effects of ‘drug liking’ and ‘want to take again’. “The drug ratings were comparable to those of 25 mg morphine but lagged behind those of morphine in some subjects. These data indicate that tramadol has abuse liability in recreational drug users, too.”

Side Effects

Since tramadol is on the lower-potency end of analgesic opioids, users might make the mistake of believing there are fewer risks associated with it. But consistent misuse or abuse of the medication can lead to some dramatic, painful and serious side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common side effects of tramadol use and abuse, include some or all of the following:

  • Agitation, anxiety or depression
  • Nausea, fever, runny nose, sweating
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Headaches, muscle and joint pain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Dependency
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation
  • Anxiety, depression and agitation
  • Drowsiness, loss of strength and feeling weak
  • Dry mouth, fever and headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain and itching skin
  • Nervousness, irritability and restlessness

It is possible to overdose on Tramadol and the symptoms, such as trouble breathing, loss of consciousness and irregular heartbeat, can be fatal if not treated immediately.


Tramadol is only safe as prescribed and getting on the drug can easily lead to addiction. It’s important to note that a tramadol dependency will cause withdraw if a person stops taking the drug abruptly. Addiction to Tramadol is treatable and many have their addiction to the painkiller in the past.

Risks & Dangers

Getting a Tramadol buzz is like other opioids, including heroin. Abusing Tramadol is not safe and can lead to serious consequences, like addiction and fatally overdosing. It’s estimated, according to an interim report by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, reports Fortune Health, that as many as 142 Americans die every day from drug overdoses.

Per SAMHSA, “Tramadol offers important medical benefits when used appropriately, it can have serious health consequences when taken without medical supervision, in larger amounts than prescribed, or in combination with illicit drugs, alcohol, or other prescription or over-the-counter medications.”

Worldwide Abuse

The United States is not the only country where people abusing tramadol to get is causing a health crisis. In Egypt, tramadol abuse has soared in the last several years because at $3 for a sheet of 10 pills on the black market, it’s a relatively inexpensive remedy for exhausted employees to work longer hours.

“Lots of people take Tramadol because they have two jobs and can hardly sleep,” Ahmed Tourk, who lives in a modest, working-class neighborhood of Cairo, told reporters from Al Jazeera.

Ireland is facing a similar crisis of Tramadol addiction where the drug is claiming more lives than heroin and cocaine. Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jack Crane, is calling for an upgrade of tramadol on the country’s classification list so that it’s harder for physicians to prescribe and more difficult for users to buy on the streets.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly 67,000 drug related deaths in 2017, with a majority of those as a result of opioid painkillers and heroin. There’s little doubt that the abuse and misuse of the opioid medication tramadol contributed to these fatalities in some form or fashion.

Is it an Opiate?

Yes, this drug is classified as an opiate. It is a scheduled controlled substance in the same class as any other opioid. According to the National Institute of Health “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription. These would include oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”

Is it a Narcotic?

Yes, Tramadol is a controlled substance and falls in the same category as other opioid painkillers, such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin and others. Opioids are considered to be a narcotic. What might come as a surprise to people, though, is that the prescription pain reliever tramadol, once considered a safer alternative to stronger opioids, is similarly addictive and potentially dangerous as its more notorious relatives.


It’s not news that the United States is battling a crisis of opioid addiction, which includes heroin and prescription painkillers, like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and Hydrocodone. A greater public awareness for both physicians and their patients about the risks of tramadol is needed. Much of the focus and resources spent on the opioid crisis in the states focuses on heroin and other, stronger prescription painkiller.

The somewhat less than high-profile surrounding this drug, along with the misconception that it’s not a “serious” opioid is likely contributing to the number of people abusing the medication and suffering its potentially dangerous consequences.
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