Tramadol and Alcohol: Can You Drink While Taking Tramadol?

Drinking alcohol while taking tramadol is not recommended. It may cause serious side effects such as extreme drowsiness, and can even result in death. Additionally, alcohol may influence how tramadol is metabolized, and this can further increase the risk of side effects. It is recommended to always consult your healthcare provider when you are unsure about combining medications.
Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Neuroscientist at the University Of Cambridge.

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Tramadol: An overview

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid, which belongs to the group of prescription opioids. It is used to manage moderate to severe pain. It operates on the principle of binding to opioid receptors in the brain and inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin. Thus it mimics the body's natural pain relief system.

Tramadol is available in both extended and immediate-release formulas.

It is important to note, that while Tramadol is beneficial for treating pain, its long-term use is associated with various neurological disorders and may lead to tramadol abuse or tramadol addiction [1, 2, 3, 4].

Side effects of Tramadol

Tramadol possesses different side effects. Some of these are common side effects like dizziness, headache, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, lack of energy or seizures [5].

Others on the other hand are more serious like the Serotonin syndrome, which may cause increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased body temperature and lack of coordination [5]. Further, it may result in adrenal insufficiency, which manifests as long-lasting tiredness, muscle weakness and pain in your abdomen [5] or in androgen deficiency which causes tiredness, trouble sleeping and decreased energy [5].

It may also result in breathing problems manifesting as slowed breathing rate or very shallow breathing, fainting and confusion [5].

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Tramadol?

Drinking alcohol while taking tramadol can be dangerous. The combination of alcohol and tramadol can lead to dangerous side effects or even death.

Additionally, research showed that alcohol consumption can lead to changes in the metabolism of tramadol. This may lead to increased side effects which may cause a potential serious health risk like liver damage [6, 7, 8].

What will happen if I drink alcohol while taking tramadol?

If you mix alcohol while on tramadol, it may lead to several adverse effects. The combination of alcohol and tramadol can cause seizures, respiratory depression or even cardiovascular toxicity. Therefore, it is not recommended to drink alcohol while on tramadol therapy [7, 8, 9].

What should I do if I drank alcohol while taking tramadol?

In case you have consumed alcohol while on tramadol, monitor your symptoms closely. If you notice symptoms such as dizziness, extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing or any other unusual symptoms please contact your medical provider immediately.

In general, it is not recommended to drink alcohol while on tramadol, so in case you have alcohol addiction or problems with alcohol abuse it is best to inform your healthcare provider prior [1, 10, 11, 6, 8, 9].

Interactions of Tramadol

Tramadol can interact with several other substances, leading to various effects. Tramadol interacts with other opioids such as fentanyl and morphine and also antidepressants. Further, it interacts with adrenergic and serotonergic compounds like diazepam, propranolol and nicotine, antihistamines and elements like Zn, Mg, and Mn. Interestingly, it also interacts with drugs used for sleep, pain drugs and drugs containing acetaminophen [12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18].

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Frederika Malichová

Frederika Malichová

Frederika is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Cambridge, where she investigates new biomarkers for Frontotemporal Dementia and other tauopathies. Her research has been published at prestigious conferences such as the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. She obtained her BSc in Biomedical Sciences from UCL, where she worked closely with the UK Dementia Research Institute.