Also Known As: Ultram, Tramal

Category: Depressant

Tramadol, like other opiates, stimulates brain opioid receptors but it also increases brain serotonin levels. It is a medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is only available with a prescription from your doctor. Other opiates include codeine, methadone and heroin.

Tramadol is usually available as white pills, tablets or coloured capsules, although liquid forms are produced.

Tramadol is normally swallowed, but some people crush up the tablets and snort them.

Tramadol is an opiate. Although it is weaker than heroin and methadone, it still causes all the typical opiate effects, alongside some effects due to increases in serotonin activity.

The effects include feelings of warmth and well-being, relaxation and sleepiness.

Typical opiate effects of fatigue, drowsiness, nausea and retching, constipation and sometimes confusion.

Less often, diarrhoea, dizziness or fainting, excessive sweating, itching, raised blood pressure, tightness in the airways, muscle weakness, sensory disturbances, hallucinations, fits and blood disorders.

Although tramadol is not as potent as the strongest opiates like heroin, it still acts as an opiate, and also has additional risks due to its actions on serotonin levels:

  • If you have epilepsy or are taking certain antidepressants you should definitely only take tramadol with clear medical advice because of the known risks.
  • Tramadol can depress breathing and may be risky in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Tramadol use has been linked with ‘serotonin syndrome’. This is a potentially life threatening condition where the serotonin receptors are over stimulated, which can lead to high fever, rapid pulse, shivering, sweating, trembling, muscle twitches and agitation and confusion.
  • Pregnant women should not use tramadol as it can be toxic to the developing foetus.

Tramadol is a class C drug and is only available with a prescription from a doctor or other healthcare professional that is qualified to prescribe. As a class C drug, it is illegal for anyone else to supply tramadol, to have it or to give it away, even to friends.

If the Police arrest you in possession of tramadol unlawfully, they’ll always take some action. This could be a formal caution or arrest and possible conviction.

Having tramadol that is not prescribed for you for your own use (called illegal possession) could result in up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. While selling or giving tramadol away for free, even to friends (called supplying) could result in up to fourteen years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It could make it harder, even impossible, to visit certain Countries- for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.

What’s the difference between possession & supply (dealing)? What happens if you’re under 16? Learn more about drugs and the law.