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What Are the Risks of Combining Tramadol and Alcohol?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Combining tramadol and alcohol is not advised, because it can adversely affect breathing and cause problems with the liver. In addition to these risks, taking tramadol and alcohol together can increase the side effects normally associated with tramadol, such as seizures, drowsiness, dizziness, coordination issues, memory problems and losing consciousness. However, the most important risks are issues with shallow breathing and liver problems.

Tramadol is a pain relieving drug, which is in many ways similar to narcotic pain relievers. Essentially, it works by decreasing the body’s perception of pain, in a similar way to opiates like codeine. Tramadol is used for the treatment of moderate to relatively bad pain, and is generally taken in the form of tablets. The drug carries many side effects on its own, such as agitation, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, mood changes, and vomiting. Other serious side effects such as hallucinations have also been reported.

Combining alcohol with tramadol is not advised, because both of the substances suppress the central nervous system and both can individually cause respiratory depression. The issues with breathing are the most serious risks when combining the two, because the shallow and infrequent breathing it causes can be dangerous. In addition, combining strong drugs with alcohol can have a very negative effect on the liver, possibly even leading to jaundice after extended periods of times.

The side effects already possible when taking tramadol are even more prevalent when taking tramadol and alcohol. Drowsiness, dizziness, poor memory, unusual behavior and seizures are some of the side effects that are made more likely when alcohol is consumed. There are also risks associated with trying to quit taking the substances. Reducing alcohol consumption while taking tramadol can increase the risk of seizures, and the cessation of taking tramadol can cause withdrawal symptoms. Patients are advised to speak to a medical professional to help with detoxing from tramadol and/or alcohol.

Using tramadol and alcohol together could also cause an increased susceptibility to the effects of alcohol. This means that even if all of the potential side effects of taking tramadol and alcohol together didn’t apply, there would still be a risk of the patient being unable to deal with the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcoholics should not be prescribed tramadol, because of the serious effects that alcohol can have when combined with the drug.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Mar 07, 2014

@ZipLine-- I completely agree with you. Opiates are possibly the worst drugs to mix with alcohol. Unfortunately, opiate abuse is common and some people think that it's a good idea to add alcohol to the mix. Many famous people have died this way.

There is always someone who comes out and says that they have tried this combination and it did not harm them. But they fail to realize that drugs and alcohol behave very differently in different people. Some people have a high tolerance to these substances, or their weight prevents the combination from causing too many side effects. But this does not mean that everyone else will have the same experience. It also does not mean that the same person will be fine the next time they mix tramadol and alcohol.

I don't understand why people take these things so lightly. Tramadol and alcohol interaction can be fatal. What else is left there to say?

By ZipLine — On Mar 06, 2014

@ddljohn-- Yes, it's dangerous. You were lucky last time, but I advise you not to repeat it.

Mixing tramadol and alcohol is a good recipe for seizures. It can also put a lot of strain on your liver and kidneys. If nothing else, you will have an upset stomach and an awful hangover.

I've never mixed tramadol and alcohol. But I have accidentally mixed a similar pain killer with alcohol before. I forgot that I had taken the medication that day. The results were not good. I got very sick, vomited for a long time. It felt like I was poisoned. I also had a terrible migraine that lasted for two days straight. I had to stay in bed and drink so much liquids to get both substances out of my system.

Please don't mix drugs with alcohol, especially tramadol type medication. You might not even be aware of the damage it is causing. If for example this mixture affects your liver function, there is no way you will know that without a blood test. By the time you experience side effects from liver damage, it might be too late. Don't take the risk.

By ddljohn — On Mar 06, 2014

I took tramadol with alcohol once. I didn't take them at exactly the same time. I drank alcohol a few hours after taking the drug. I did feel a bit more drowsy and tired than usual, but I did not experience any other side effects. Is this combination really as dangerous as it is made out to be?

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