Tramadol is an opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Typically prescribed for use after surgery or an injury, tramadol is used when over-the-counter medications are ineffective. Like other opioids, tramadol changes the way that your body responds to pain, providing pain relief and relaxation. As a central nervous system depressant, tramadol slows down heart and lung functions, allowing the body to relax. Tramadol is a Schedule IV substance, meaning that the Drug Enforcement Administration has deemed tramadol to have a lower risk of abuse and dependence than other opioids such as oxycodone.
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a liquid substance produced by fermentation that is perhaps one of the world’s most popular substances. Found in beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that results in a loss of motor coordination, a decreased reaction time, and impaired intellectual abilities. In large quantities, alcohol can slow the respiratory system to the point of coma or death.
As a general rule, you should not mix alcohol with opioids or any illicit substances, as the interactions between the drugs can be very dangerous. As tramadol and alcohol are both depressants, using them together will increase the effects of both substances. This can result in slowed-down respiration, lowered blood pressure, and suppressed heart rate. The side effects of tramadol include:
The side effects of alcohol include:
Mixing alcohol and tramadol can increase the severity of any of the side effects, making them potentially dangerous.
THE DANGERS OF MIXING TRAMADOL AND ALCOHOL
In large quantities, mixing tramadol and alcohol can dangerously decrease central nervous system functions, which can lead to an overdose, coma, or death. When the central nervous system is slowed by mixing tramadol and alcohol, organ damage can occur due to a lack of oxygen and blood flow to important organs such as the brain. This can also impact cognitive issues such as memory, learning, attention, concentration, and problem-solving. Long term use of both tramadol and alcohol together can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, gastrointestinal issues, stroke, neurological damage, kidney problems, and numerous other chronic conditions. Mixing tramadol and alcohol can also lead to risky behavior that can result in accidents that can harm yourself and other people. Finally, using alcohol and tramadol together can lead to mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are common issues that stem from the mixing of substances. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016, 1.6 million people in the U.S. over the age of 12 reported abusing tramadol in the past year.1 In 2018, it was reported by the Drug Abuse Warning Network that over 50,000 emergency department visits were due to tramadol use, with another half of the visits relating to side effects of the drug.2
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR TRAMADOL AND ALCOHOL ABUSE?
When treating polysubstance abuse (the abuse of more than one substance), it is important to focus on the problem as a whole. Opioid abuse as well as alcohol abuse can have detrimental effects on physical and mental health. The first step to substance use treatment is detoxification. Medical detoxification allows you to stop using the substances while being medically supervised and supported. After medical detox, counseling and therapy help to treat the root issues of substance abuse which are typically deeply intertwined with physical and mental health. Treatment can take place at inpatient or outpatient facilities. Additionally, 12-step groups can help individuals to find support amongst other people who are struggling with the same issues.