Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic (painkiller) that is frequently prescribed to manage moderate to severe levels of pain—such as that experienced after surgery or in chronic conditions like arthritis. It is commonly marketed under one of its brand names, Ultram.

People who experience more chronic types of pain may be prescribed an extended-release version of tramadol, which allows them to experience longer lasting pain relief without needing to take the medication as frequently.

Is Tramadol Harmful?

This drug – while somewhat atypical with its activity as an opioid – still elicits its narcotic properties via the brain’s opioid receptors. Similar to other drugs in this class of substances, some people may be at risk for addiction if they:

My pain typically would occur over two or three days. I took one or two a day until it eased. But I noticed on the days I took tramadol I felt more relaxed and coped with life better. Since the doctor had prescribed so many, at least two or three boxes, I started taking one every day….They had come from a doctor, so I was sure they couldn’t harm me…..I didn’t worry whether they were safe or not, I just needed them.

– Jina Kauser
  • Use it for a long period of time.
  • Take larger doses than recommended.
  • Take it more frequently than has been prescribed.
  • Take it for non-medical purposes.
  • Take it concurrently with other substances, such as alcohol, sedatives or other painkillers.

Addiction is characterized by:

  • Compulsive drug seeking behavior.
  • An inability to limit use on one’s own.
  • Difficulty functioning without the drug