How to Stay Safe: Avoiding the Dangers of Mixing Tramadol and Alcohol

A 2023 study revealed that 30% of unintentional opioid overdoses involved alcohol. This highlights a potential link between alcohol and opioid-related incidents, emphasising the need for increased awareness among healthcare providers and the general public to address the risks associated with polydrug use.

In today’s guide, we focus on a commonly prescribed opioid, Tramadol and the dangers associated with Tramadol and alcohol use. We’ll also focus on valuable insights into seeking proper treatment for those struggling with addiction to one or both substances.

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic that acts on the central nervous system to alleviate pain. As an opioid, it binds to mu-opioid receptors in the brain, inhibiting pain signals. Tramadol also has serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibition properties, contributing to its analgesic effects.

It is commonly used to manage moderate to severe pain, such as postoperative discomfort or chronic conditions. Tramadol’s unique dual mechanism of action distinguishes it from traditional opioids, and its milder side effects often make it a preferred option.


In the UK, Tramadol is sold under the brand names;

  • Maxitram
  • Marol
  • Zydol
  • Zamadol
  • Tramulief
  • Tramquel

Why do people mix alcohol and Tramadol?

Combining opioids, like Tramadol and alcohol, is extremely dangerous and can have serious consequences for health and safety. However, some people may engage in this risky behaviour for various reasons despite the known risks.

Enhanced effects of both substances

Some people may mix opioids and alcohol in an attempt to enhance the euphoric effects of both substances. Opioids and alcohol can both have sedative effects on the central nervous system and combining them may intensify feelings of relaxation and pleasure.


People may mix Tramadol and alcohol as a form of self-medication to cope with physical or emotional pain. Unfortunately, this can lead to a dangerous cycle of substance misuse.

Lack of awareness

Some people may not be fully aware of the potential risks and dangers associated with combining Tramadol and alcohol. Peer pressure, social settings and the normalisation of substance use in certain environments can contribute to people mixing opioids and alcohol.

What are the dangers of mixing Tramadol and alcohol?

In this section, we take a closer look at Tramadol and alcohol side effects, including the short term, long term and overdose effects:

Short term effects

The short-term effects of mixing Tramadol and alcohol may include:

  • Increased sedation: Tramadol and alcohol interaction can cause drowsiness and sedation. These effects may intensify when taken together, leading to excessive sleepiness or even unconsciousness.
  • Impaired cognitive function: The combination of Tramadol and alcohol can impair cognitive functions such as memory, concentration and coordination. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Respiratory depression: Tramadol and alcohol interaction can slow down breathing. When combined, they may lead to respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening. This is especially dangerous for people with respiratory conditions or those prone to respiratory problems.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: Both Tramadol and alcohol can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Combining them may increase the risk of nausea, vomiting and stomach upset.

Long term effects of mixing Tramadol and alcohol

The long term effects of mixing Tramadol and alcohol may include:

  • Increased tolerance: Both long term uses of Tramadol and alcohol can lead to tolerance, where the body becomes less responsive to the effects of the substances over time. This may result in people needing higher doses of either or both substances to achieve the desired effects. If a person uses both of these substances recreationally, they will need larger doses to reach the desired effect.
  • Physical and psychological addiction: Chronic use of Tramadol and alcohol can lead to physical and psychological addiction. Addiction occurs when the body becomes reliant on the substances to function normally, and people may experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using them. Detox and rehab may be needed to overcome these addictions.
  • Liver damage: Both Tramadol and alcohol are metabolised in the liver. Long-term use of alcohol, especially in excessive amounts, can contribute to liver damage. Combining Tramadol and alcohol may exacerbate this risk, as Tramadol itself can also have effects on the liver.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Chronic use of alcohol is associated with cardiovascular problems, including hypertension and an increased risk of heart disease. Tramadol’s effects on the cardiovascular system may further contribute to these risks when combined with alcohol.

Is there a risk of fatal overdose on Tramadol and alcohol?

The risk of overdose is particularly high because both substances affect the respiratory system. Respiratory depression, where breathing becomes dangerously slow or shallow, is a key concern. In severe cases, it can lead to respiratory failure, coma and death.

Symptoms of an overdose on Tramadol and alcohol may include:

  • Extreme drowsiness or inability to stay awake
  • Difficulty breathing or slowed breathing
  • Unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Constricted or pinpoint pupils

It’s important to note that the risk of overdose on Tramadol and alcohol is not only influenced by the doses of the two substances but also by individual factors such as a person’s age, weight, overall health and any pre-existing medical conditions.

If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose or exhibiting symptoms of severe intoxication, it is crucial to seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Does mixing Tramadol and alcohol affect mental health?

Combining Tramadol and alcohol can have detrimental effects on mental health due to their central nervous system depressant properties. Here are some potential consequences:

Mood changes

Tramadol and alcohol interaction can affect mood, and the combination may lead to heightened feelings of sadness, anxiety or irritability. The depressive effects on the central nervous system can contribute to emotional instability.

Risk of suicidal thoughts

Tramadol has been associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in vulnerable populations. Combining it with alcohol can further amplify this risk, as both substances may contribute to changes in mood and behaviour.

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts while using Tramadol or in combination with alcohol, seek immediate professional help.

Worsening of mental health during withdrawal

Abruptly stopping the use of Tramadol or alcohol can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Combining the withdrawal effects of both substances may intensify these symptoms, making the individual more vulnerable to mental health issues.

Note: Withdrawal from Tramadol can include symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and mood swings. Alcohol withdrawal, on the other hand, can lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability and even more severe conditions such as hallucinations or seizures. The combination may heighten the overall distress experienced during the withdrawal process, potentially impacting mental well-being significantly. Seeking professional help during withdrawal is essential to manage symptoms safely and effectively.

How long should I wait to take Tramadol if I’ve already drunk alcohol?

The specific time you should wait before taking Tramadol after drinking alcohol can depend on various factors, including your individual health, the amount of alcohol consumed and how your body processes these substances.

As a general guideline, it’s advisable to wait at least 24 hours after consuming alcohol before taking Tramadol. However, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for personalised advice based on your health condition and other medications you may be taking.

How long should I wait to take alcohol if I’ve already consumed Tramadol?

It’s typically recommended to refrain from drinking alcohol when using Tramadol. If you’ve recently taken Tramadol, it’s best to wait until its effects have completely subsided before consuming alcohol. The precise duration can differ among individuals, influenced by factors like age, weight, general health, and other concurrent medications affecting Tramadol metabolism in the body.

To ensure your safety, following your doctor’s advice and the medication guidelines provided with Tramadol is crucial.

What should I do if I’ve already mixed Tramadol and alcohol?

If you’ve already mixed Tramadol and alcohol and are experiencing potential overdose symptoms, it’s important to take immediate action.

First and foremost, seek urgent medical attention. Call emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room. Provide detailed information about the substances you have consumed, including the amounts and when you took them. Remember, emergency medical professionals are trained to assess the situation and administer appropriate interventions to address the risks associated with the combination of Tramadol and alcohol.

Make sure that you do not disregard any symptoms or signs of distress. These may include excessive drowsiness, confusion, slowed or irregular breathing, dizziness or loss of consciousness. It’s crucial to act quickly and responsibly in such situations.

While awaiting medical help, refrain from activities that require alertness, such as driving, as the combination of alcohol and Tramadol may impair cognitive and motor functions.

I’m worried about my Tramadol and alcohol use- What can I do?

If you or someone you care about is dealing with Tramadol addiction, alcohol addiction or a combination of both, it’s crucial to seek help promptly. At UKAT, we understand the difficulties you’re facing and are committed to providing support on your path to recovery.

By reaching out to us, you initiate a process that involves compassionate and effective rehab treatments, including:

Taking the first step toward contacting UKAT can guide you in overcoming these challenges and reclaiming a healthier, happier life. Don’t hesitate to reach out today.

Call us now for help

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