Updated on February 6, 2024
7 min read

Can You Take Tramadol with Alcohol?

Are you considering taking the drug tramadol with alcohol? Understanding your body’s sensitivity when combining these substances is essential, and you should be aware of potential dangers and side effects.

This blog explores the risks associated with mixing alcohol and tramadol, how to use them in combination safely, and how to reduce their risks. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider for more information on this potentially dangerous combination.

How Do Tramadol And Alcohol Affect The Body?

Tramadol and alcohol both slow down central nervous system activity.  Mixing substances can intensify both drugs' sedative and depressing respiratory effects.

Although this combination can cause euphoria and relaxation, it can also lead to adverse side effects. These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Reduced coordination
  • Shallow breathing
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Sluggish movements
  • Poor decision making
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vertigo

Severe Side Effects of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

Tramadol and alcohol can interact with each other. Some severe side effects are more likely when both drugs are used simultaneously. 

Mixing tramadol and alcohol can lead to severe oxygen deprivation and long-term brain damage. Other severe side effects include:

  • Addiction or dependence
  • Unconsciousness
  • Overdose
  • Blackouts
  • Respiratory problems or depression
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

The severity of these side effects typically depends on how much alcohol you've consumed and your tramadol dosage.

Recognizing and Responding to a Tramadol Overdose

A tramadol overdose is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Signs of an overdose include:

  • Loss of consciousness or seizure activity
  • Slow breathing or shallow breaths
  • Pale or blue skin color

However, it doesn't pose a significant risk of serotonin toxicity, which is a substantial risk of other opioid medications. Call 911 or seek emergency medical treatment immediately if you think someone has overdosed on tramadol. 

Don't try to provide any medical intervention on your own. While waiting for help to arrive, try to keep the person awake and monitor their breathing.

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How Long After Taking Tramadol Can I Drink Alcohol?

It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol while you’re taking tramadol. Ask your doctor when it’s safe to consume alcohol after taking tramadol.

The amount of time it takes tramadol to clear from the system varies. So, your doctor's answer may differ based on whether your dose was long-acting tramadol.

However, most medical professionals suggest 32 hours as a safe time for short-acting tramadol. Consuming alcohol shortly after or while taking tramadol poses a risk of respiratory depression.

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What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a strong pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It also treats chronic pain when weaker prescription drugs aren't enough. Tramadol belongs to a class of opioid-like medications.

It adjusts the brain's pain receptors and the central nervous system's (CNS) response to pain. By doing so, tramadol can block pain signals and provide much-needed relief.

Physicians primarily prescribe Tramadol to relieve acute and chronic pain. However, it has also shown promise as an off-label treatment for restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Where to Get Tramadol

In most countries, tramadol is a controlled substance. As such, you need a prescription to get it from your pharmacist or online pharmacy. Some websites also sell generic versions without a prescription, which may be illicit and questionable.

Tramadol is available under the brand names Ultram, Rybix, and ConZip. Ultracet is a combination of acetaminophen and tramadol. Tramadol is available in the following forms:

  • Injection
  • Extended-release capsules
  • Long-acting tablets
  • Short-acting tablets

What to Avoid While on Tramadol

Mixing tramadol with narcotic medications, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants can be extremely dangerous. Doing so may result in life-threatening side effects, including breathing problems.

You cannot take the following drugs with tramadol:

  • Furazolidone
  • Iproniazid
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Linezolid
  • Methylene Blue
  • Moclobemide
  • Nalmefene
  • Naltrexone
  • Nialamide
  • Phenelzine
  • Procarbazine
  • Rasagiline
  • Safinamide
  • Samidorphan
  • Selegiline
  • Tranylcypromine

Consult your physician before taking this medicine with other drugs. While it’s generally not recommended, there are specific circumstances where it may be necessary. 

If your doctor prescribes Tramadol alongside other medications, they will likely adjust the dosage or frequency of use for your safety. This precaution is due to potential interactions between Tramadol and certain drugs, particularly those that affect the central nervous system or have serotonergic properties.

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Side Effects of Tramadol

When used correctly, tramadol has a low potential for dependence, especially compared to morphine. However, addiction to the drug can occur if you consume tramadol for extended periods.

Even when you take it as a medical professional prescribes, tramadol can still have side effects. Common side effects of tramadol include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) switched tramadol from being a drug of concern to a controlled substance. It’s now a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Signs Of Tramadol And Alcohol Addiction

The inability to control drug use despite negative consequences characterizes Tramadol and alcohol dependence. Dependence may lead to problems in various areas of life, including social, occupational, and health-related aspects. 

This is often despite the user being aware of the adverse consequences of their drug abuse.  The signs of tramadol and alcohol use disorder (AUD) include:

  • Cravings or intense urges to use
  • Developing a tolerance where larger quantities, or more frequent doses, are required to achieve prior effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit
  • An inability to stop or cut back on substance use
  • Drinking alcohol or taking more significant amounts of opioids more frequently than initially intended
  • Spending much time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of tramadol or alcohol
  • Having a psychological or physical issue that is likely the result of the use
  • Continuing use despite persistent interpersonal or social problems
  • Overusing alcohol or tramadol in situations where it’s physically dangerous to do so, such as driving
  • No longer fulfilling responsibilities at work, home, or school due to use
  • Ceasing recreational, social, or work activities because of use

Treatment for Tramadol and Alcohol

When a person has an alcohol and opioid use disorder (OUD), they have comorbid substance use disorders (SUDs). In case they’re addicted to multiple substances simultaneously, they suffer from polysubstance addiction

Fortunately, various addiction treatment options are available to cater to your specific needs. These include:

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detox used to avoid harmful withdrawal effects
  • Inpatient treatment: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision and comprehensive care
  • Outpatient treatment: A treatment program similar to inpatient treatment, but you are allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Behavioral therapies: Therapy techniques used to explore the link between thought patterns and addiction alongside medical treatment
  • Dual diagnosis treatment: A treatment program that addresses existing co-occurring disorders alongside addiction

When to Seek Professional Help

Seeking professional help is essential for those who abuse alcohol or tramadol for an extended period. It's crucial to get substance abuse treatment if you think you're addicted or dependent on tramadol. Doing so helps avoid severe side effects and health complications.

You should also get help immediately if you suspect a tramadol overdose. Contact a poison control center or 911 immediately if someone exhibits overdose symptoms.

How Do You Get Tramadol Out Of Your System?

The only way to remove tramadol from your system is to stop taking the drug. Natural detoxification processes can help the body remove tramadol and its metabolites over time. However, you should still talk to a professional about quitting tramadol to ensure you do it safely.

Professional detoxification programs can help with this process and provide medical support in case of any complications. They can also offer psychological support and guidance to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the substance.

How Long Do The Effects Of Tramadol Last?

The onset of action and duration of tramadol's effects can vary. They depend on the formulation (immediate-release or extended-release) and personal factors. 

While immediate-release tramadol may start working within 30 to 60 minutes, its effects may last up to six hours. On the other hand, extended-release formulations may provide pain relief for up to 24 hours.

Can I Have A Glass Of Wine With Tramadol?

No, you shouldn’t have a glass of wine with tramadol. People are recommended not to drink alcohol while taking the drug. Combining the two substances is very dangerous, no matter the situation or how little alcohol is consumed.

Summary

Tramadol and alcohol are powerful substances. Therefore, taking them responsibly is essential. Avoid drinking alcohol while on tramadol to avoid the potential dangers of mixing the two.

If you're considering consuming alcohol after taking tramadol, speak with your doctor first. They can provide the best advice to ensure you're drinking safely.

If you suspect that you or someone else suffers from tramadol and alcohol addiction, seek professional help immediately. Professional detoxification and treatment programs are available to support people through recovery and prevent any health complications.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
12 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
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  2. Tramadol.” United Kingdom National Health Service.
  3. MedlinePlus. “Serotonin syndrome.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2022. 
  4. Understanding Drug Overdoses and Death.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023. 
  5. Harmful Interactions - Mixing Alcohol With Medicines.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2014.
  6. Schiller et al. Opioid Overdose. StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
  7. The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2023. 
  8. MedlinePlus. “Alcohol withdrawal.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2023. 
  9. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006.
  10. Shah et al. “Opioid Withdrawal.” StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
  11. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. “Tramadol (Oral Route).” Mayo Clinic, 2023.
  12. Ryan et al. “Tramadol overdose causes seizures and respiratory depression but serotonin toxicity appears unlikely.” Clinical Toxicology, 2015.

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