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The most complex organ in your body weighs in at a mere three pounds, but it is responsible for the most complex functions in your body. We use the brain to explore our world, make judgments, understand and reason. Sometimes we overload our most valued organs with opiates such as tramadol in order to produce a high.

Tramadol addiction can wreak havoc on the body, but the largest amount of damage takes place in the brain.

Tramadol Basics

Tramadol is an opioid analgesic used to control pain after surgery, as the result of an injury, or to control pain from chronic condition. As with other opioids, tramadol works in the central nervous system to change the way the brain and body perceive pain.1 Although not as highly addictive as other forms of opioids, using tramadol for longer periods of time or in ways other than prescribed by a physician can lead to drug dependence. One of the strongest indicators of drug dependence is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped.

Some common side effects of tramadol use include the following:
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Irritability
  • Itching of the skin
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Muscle aches, pains or weakness
  • Redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
  • Runny nose
  • Sleepiness, unusual drowsiness, tiredness2

Some of these symptoms may subside on over time, but if any continue or become bothersome, talk to your doctor.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Start with Detox

The Effects of Tramadol Addiction on the Brain

Tramadol works by activating the opiate receptors located in the brain. When activated these receptors produce endorphins that lead to sensations of both pleasure and pain relief.3 The pleasurable feelings associated with tramadol use are often an addiction catalyst. A person may repeatedly take tramadol to re-experience euphoric or pain-relieving effects. However, the “high” produced by tramadol can be a sign of brain damage.

Because a tramadol user’s brain is being flooded with endorphins, it will begin to shut down or drastically reduce the number of receptors in the brain as well as the number of endorphins created. This results in depression, and in order to experience any pleasure at all the user must take more tramadol which can lead to further damaging the brain.

If a tramadol user chooses to find help with recovery and regain a drug-free life, it may take months for the brain to rebalance. If a person has been addicted to tramadol for a long period of time, there may permanent brain damage. Tramadol causes the brain to create new opioid receptors. After tramadol use ends, the brain will shut down these receptors, but it cannot destroy them. This is part of the reason why relapse happens and why addiction can reestablish itself quickly and easily.

Why Tramadol Addiction Treatment Is Needed

Repeated tramadol use can and will damage the brain which is why treatment is so important for tramadol addiction recovery. It can take months for the brain to recover, and during that time of recuperation supervision and support is needed to prevent relapse.

If you believe that you or a loved one may be addicted to tramadol, we are here from you.

The brain will forever be conditioned to addiction, but there are many programs available that can help manage the long-term effects of addiction.

Call our toll-free helpline, 269-280-4673. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day and can help you at any time. Stop abusing tramadol and allow your brain to recover.


1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription Opioids.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, 7 June 2018.

2 Tramadol (Oral Route) Side Effects.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Mar. 2017.

3 What Is an Opioid?NIDA for Teens, Aug. 2018.