Tramadol addiction

When you think of addiction, illicit drugs and alcohol usually spring to mind – but did you know that prescription medications can also be addictive? Tramadol is an opiate pain medication typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. However, prolonged use can lead to both physical and emotional dependency. Tramadol addiction is a worrying problem facing the UK, and in the past decade has been responsible for nearly 2,000 deaths.

If you are trapped in the cycles of tramadol abuse and addiction, it may feel impossible to escape. Oasis Runcorn is here to show you the way out.

How does tramadol addiction develop?

Tramadol works in a similar way to other opioids – it binds to receptors in the brain and blocks pain signals from firing. Tramadol also affects neurotransmitter levels, inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. On top of its analgesic effects, therefore, taking tramadol may result in an elevated mood, feelings of relaxation and reduced anxiety.

It is these pleasant side effects that trigger the reward centre in your brain, and in turn, you will be more inclined to use the drug again. With regular use, you will develop a tolerance to tramadol, needing higher doses to achieve the same effect. Soon, your brain will become reliant on the presence of tramadol, and this dependency will make it incredibly tough to quit without professional help.

Whether you began taking tramadol for a genuine medical need or as a recreational drug, the path to addiction is the same. Tramadol is a potent substance, and taking it outside the prescribed ways can quickly spiral into a habit you cannot control.

What are the signs of tramadol addiction?

Recognising the signs of tramadol addiction can be difficult – it is never easy to admit you have a problem, but this is the first step in getting better. Being aware of the signs of tramadol addiction means that you can take action before things get out of control.

The signs of tramadol addiction include:

  • Using more tramadol than prescribed or taking it more frequently than prescribed
  • Visiting multiple doctors and exaggerating symptoms in order to get a tramadol prescription
  • Buying tramadol illegally, including purchasing it online or on the streets
  • Feeling like you are unable to get through the day without taking tramadol
  • Becoming angry or irritable when you don’t have access to tramadol
  • Experiencing intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you are not taking tramadol
  • Trying to reduce or stop taking tramadol but being unable to do so
  • Neglecting other important responsibilities and commitments in favour of taking tramadol
  • Experiencing problems at work or in relationships as a result of your tramadol use
  • Continuing to take tramadol despite any negative consequences

If you have noticed any of the above signs in yourself or a loved one, it could indicate a potential prescription drug addiction.

The impact of tramadol addiction

Tramadol addiction can impact your life in several ways, from physical and mental health to work and relationships.

Some of the physical impacts of tramadol addiction include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Constipation
  • Muscle aches
  • Tremors
  • Lack of coordination
  • Damage to the liver and kidneys
  • Risk of seizures
  • Risk of overdose

Some of the mental impacts of tramadol addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Inability to focus

Tramadol addiction can also impact your work, including:

  • Deterioration of performance at work
  • Decreased motivation
  • Being frequently absent or late
  • Being unable to concentrate on work tasks

Finally, tramadol addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationships, including:

  • Becoming secretive and withdrawn
  • Missing out on social events and commitments
  • Increased tension and conflict
  • An emotional distance between you and your loved ones

The consequences of tramadol addiction can have a significant effect on your wellbeing, but the good news is, it is not too late to turn your life around. The tramadol addiction treatment programme at Oasis Runcorn can put a stop to the downward spiral and help you find freedom from addiction.

What causes tramadol addiction?

Tramadol addiction can be influenced by a wide range of physical, environmental and social factors, all working in unison to contribute to the development of this condition.

Some of the causes of tramadol addiction include:

  • Chronic pain: If you suffer from chronic pain, it is possible you will be prescribed tramadol by your doctor. You could also self-medicate to try and ease your discomfort.
  • Genetics: Your genes can increase your vulnerability to tramadol addiction, accounting for as much as half of the risk.
  • Mental health issues: Tramadol may provide temporary relief from mental health symptoms and so many turn to the drug as a way to cope.
  • Stress: Stress can significantly influence your tramadol use and push you towards tramadol addiction.
  • Lack of awareness: Many people assume that, as a prescription medication, tramadol is a safe drug to use, but misusing it can be dangerous.

Everyone’s susceptibility to tramadol addiction is unique; usually a complex interplay of factors work together to cause this condition. While not everyone who takes tramadol will go on to develop addiction, it is important to be aware of the risk factors that may contribute towards it.

Helping a loved one with tramadol addiction: the dos and don’ts

Navigating a conversation about tramadol addiction requires careful consideration and planning. If you believe a loved one has a problem with tramadol, you should approach them with kindness and offer your support.


  • Educate yourself on tramadol addiction: Learn about tramadol addiction, its effects, and the available treatment options. Understanding the nature of addiction can help you provide informed support to your loved one.
  • Express concern and offer support: Approach your loved one with empathy and express your concerns about their wellbeing. Let them know that you are there to support them throughout their tramadol recovery.
  • Encourage tramadol addiction treatment: Suggest that your loved one seeks professional assistance from tramadol addiction specialists.
  • Promote open communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental space for your loved one to share their struggles, fears and challenges. Encourage honest communication and actively listen to their experiences with tramadol addiction.


  • Don’t enable their tramadol addiction: Avoid enabling behaviours, such as providing financial support for tramadol or covering up their substance use.
  • Don’t blame or shame: Tramadol addiction is a complex condition, and blaming or shaming your loved one will likely worsen their feelings of guilt. This could push them further away and prevent them from getting the help they need.
  • Don’t neglect your own wellbeing: Supporting a loved one with tramadol addiction can be emotionally challenging. Take care of yourself by seeking your own support, setting boundaries and engaging in self-care activities. This ensures you can provide sustainable support in the long run.
  • Don’t give up on them: Recovery from tramadol addiction can be a lengthy process with many ups and downs. If setbacks occur, continue to show your support – your unwavering support can make a significant difference in their tramadol addiction recovery.

Tramadol addiction recovery

Recovery from tramadol addiction is challenging but achievable with rehab and the right support. Oasis Runcorn’s treatment programme involves addressing the physical, psychological and emotional aspects of tramadol addiction. We do this through assisted detox and comprehensive therapies, helping you to get to the root of your issues with tramadol.

If you are ready to find healthier coping mechanisms, a new perspective on life and freedom from the grip of tramadol, contact our admissions team today.

Frequently asked questions

What are the signs of tramadol overdose?
If you suffer from tramadol addiction, the risk of overdose is heightened. The signs of tramadol overdose include pinpoint pupils, slowed breathing, sweating, confusion and hallucinations. If you suspect a tramadol overdose, call the emergency services immediately.
How do I know if a loved one has tramadol addiction?
A loved one may exhibit behavioural changes, including agitation when they cannot obtain a tramadol prescription, they may neglect day-to-day responsibilities and it is possible that their sleeping and eating habits will change. You may also notice changes in their personality as tramadol addiction affects their mental health and cognitive function.
How can I access tramadol addiction treatment?
If you would like to access our tramadol addiction treatment programme, you can call our team on 0203 131 5938 or email