Because it has opioid effects, it is often studied to be used in opioid dependence, mostly like a medication to deliver during detoxification. It is more effective than clonidine with this setting, similarly effective to methadone, and less effective than buprenorphine (Dunn, 2016 ; Zarghami, 2012). It can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and then be tapered alone to aid patients reach abstinence.

Tramadol operates by changing how the human brain senses pain. Tramadol is similar to substances within your brain called endorphins. Endorphins bind to receptors (areas of cells that get a certain substance). The receptors then limit the pain messages that your particular body sends for a brain. Tramadol works in a similar fashion to decrease the amount of pain your head thinks you’re having.

Tramadol increases the amount of serotonin within the brain, which when when combined other medications that improve your serotonin levels, including antidepressants, may cause a disorder called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of this include agitation, fever, nausea, muscle stiffness and also loss of consciousness.