There are many risks of tramadol and alcohol, and the two should never be used together. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid pain medication, and its brand names include ConZip, Rybiz, Ryzold and Ultram. Both tramadol and alcohol are central nervous system depressants. When someone takes tramadol and alcohol together, it can cause severe central nervous system depression that slows breathing and heart rate. Taking an opioid like tramadol and alcohol together also increases the risk of an overdose, which can be fatal.

Side Effects of Using Tramadol and Alcohol Together

Tramadol is a prescription pain medication that is classified as an opioid. When someone takes tramadol, it activates opioid receptor sites in the brain, similar to drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The activation of opioid receptor sites alters how pain signals go from the body to the brain as well as the emotional response someone has to pain.

In the United States, tramadol is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which indicates the potential for misuse and dependence to occur. See More: Tramadol Abuse & Addiction in Ohio

On its own, tramadol can have side effects that include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Vertigo

Potentially serious side effects of tramadol can include:

  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

When an opioid like tramadol affects the brain, it relieves pain but also slows down the central nervous system. The central nervous system controls essential functions such as heart rate and breathing. Taking too high of a dose of tramadol can cause someone’s central nervous system to slow so much that they overdose.

Combining tramadol with other substances can increase the risk of an overdose as well. These substances include alcohol, other opioids and benzodiazepines like Xanax — all of which are also central nervous system depressants.

The effects of tramadol and alcohol can include more severe levels of the symptoms named above. These effects can also include extreme drowsiness, slow or difficult breathing, coma or death.

The effects of tramadol and alcohol can be especially significant and problematic among certain populations, including older people.

Tramadol Withdrawal and Alcohol

What about interactions between tramadol withdrawal and alcohol? There may not be any, but if someone began taking tramadol again and they combined it with alcohol, they may be at an even greater risk of an overdose than they were originally. This is because their tolerance for tramadol may have gone down.

Tramadol withdrawal can occur when someone takes it for a period of time and suddenly stops, regardless of whether or not alcohol was being consumed. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Pain
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Symptoms related to the upper respiratory system
  • Symptoms of serotonin withdrawal, such as vertigo, mood swings and fatigue
  • Elevated blood pressure

Treatment for Tramadol and Alcohol Addiction

If someone is misusing tramadol and alcohol or is addicted to both, the side effects can be dangerous. Contact The Recovery Village Columbus if you or a loved one is addicted to tramadol and alcohol. Our admissions team can tell you more about available treatment programs, including medical detox and rehab.

Editor – Nicole LaNeve
Nicole leads a team of passionate, experienced writers, editors and other contributors to create and share accurate, trustworthy information about drug and alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery for The Recovery Village and all Advanced Recovery Systems sites. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

NIDA. “Prescription Opioids DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, June 1, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021. “Tramadol.” National Institutes of Health, November 15, 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021.

Dhesi M, Maldonado KA, Maani CV. “Tramadol. “StatPearls [Internet], January 2021. Accessed July 22, 2021.

FDA. “Tramadol Information.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, April 20, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.