Is Tramadol A Controlled Substance?

Although Tramadol is a schedule IV controlled substance, Tramadol products may still be abused.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), tramadol (Ultram, Conzip) is a schedule IV controlled substance. This pain medication is a synthetic opioid analgesic, a specific type of narcotic.

Tramadol is scheduled according to the Controlled Substances Act, which consists of five schedules of drugs, with Schedule I being the most strictly regulated.

Tramadol products have the potential to be abused due to their sedative properties.

Tramadol Drug Schedule

Used for pain relief, tramadol is an opiate that can be abused, especially in those who suffer from chronic pain. Those who suffer from severe pain may benefit from this schedule IV drug due to the fact that it helps with pain relief and can cause a sedative effect.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tramadol prescriptions have been known to inhibit reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain.

Controlled Substances

Within the Controlled Substances Act, there are five schedules. A breakdown of each schedule, and examples of medications that relate to the corresponding schedule, include:

  • schedule I (cannabis, peyote, ecstasy, heroin, LSD)
  • schedule II (hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone)
  • ​schedule III (buprenorphine, ketamine, benzphetamine)
  • schedule IV (lorazepam, clonazepam, diazepam, alprazolam)
  • schedule V (Robitussin, Phenergan)

Tramadol falls into the schedule IV category which means it has a lower risk of abuse compared to Schedule II drugs, which are drugs that are approved for medical use but still have a high potential for abuse.


“Narcotic” is the term the DEA uses to refer to drugs that are opioid analgesics. Those addicted to narcotics are the most common to abuse tramadol, according to the DEA.

Examples of narcotics include:

  • heroin
  • opium
  • codeine
  • morphine
  • hydrocodone
  • hydromorphone
  • oxycodone

The term “narcotic” is also sometimes used to describe any illicit substance, which is why the term is less favorable in some circles.

Side Effects Of Tramadol Use

Those who take tramadol should be aware of the various side effects they may experience. Due to the nature of the drug, side effects can range in severity.

Some of the side effects of tramadol include:

  • constipation
  • sedation
  • nausea
  • agitation
  • drowsiness
  • vomiting
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • insomnia

Adverse Effects Of Tramadol Misuse

Some of the more severe effects of tramadol abuse include:

  • tremors
  • fluctuations in blood pressure
  • breathing problems
  • trouble walking
  • heart rate fluctuations
  • seizures in those with a head injury or those who have epilepsy
  • allergic reactions such as hives or numbness

Serotonin Syndrome

You should not combine antidepressants with tramadol before you speak with your doctor because a serious condition known as serotonin syndrome can occur. Serotonin syndrome is a condition in which your levels of serotonin are increased.

This is one of the many reasons why those who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other antidepressants, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), should not combine these prescription drugs.

Physical Dependence & Withdrawal Symptoms

The use of tramadol in large quantities can lead to physical dependence. When this occurs, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it.

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • thoughts of suicide
  • chills
  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • mood changes
  • trouble sleeping

Your healthcare provider will determine your treatment options, which can include prescribing certain medications or supplements. Your healthcare professional may suggest that you find a treatment center to help you as well.

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to painkillers such as tramadol, contact us today to learn about our outpatient substance abuse treatment programs.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2023 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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