High on Tramadol: How Does A Tramadol High Work?

Last Updated: February 5, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Tramadol is a schedule IV substance, which means, that it has a moderate level of addictive potential. Many Tramadol users respecting their doctors’ guidelines never experience any problems or side effects. However, as with any active substance, it is entirely possible to overdose Tramadol and suffer from harmful consequences. On the other hand, the effects of Tramadol are much less intense than those of morphine and heroin.
Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and is not derived directly from the opium poppy plants like natural opioid drugs (morphine, heroin). That is why many people consider Tramadol safe, and why many decades ago it overtook morphine’s role as a painkiller. Indeed, morphine and heroin are much stronger painkillers, but also are more addictive and harmful.

What Does Tramadol High Feel Like?

Tramadol is an opiate, just like methadone, codeine, morphine or heroin. It acts on opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain, but it also increases serotonin levels, which induce sensations of well-being and pleasure.
After experiencing a high, one can count on going through some unpleasant effects as well. That will happen immediately after the high. For people who do not use Tramadol on purpose to get high, the after-effects are a good indicator that their dose is too high. If the person experiences a Tramadol “high” or unpleasant side effects, and simply want to use Tramadol for its prescribed effects, they should talk to the doctor. Maybe they need to lower a dose, or even switch to another drug.
Like many other drugs, a person on Tramadol can develop a physiological and psychological dependence, which can become an addiction. Be aware of the risks that come with irresponsible use. Use that results in a pleasant, high-like experience could be a warning sign. If someone has any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to talk to the doctor as soon as possible.

Recreational Effects of Tramadol

The effects of Tramadol vary a lot among individuals, and that is why it is imperative to rely on the doctor’s prescription, and not what one might read on the internet. Otherwise, users can risk unplanned side effects. Depending on high much the patient went over the safe limit, they can be unpleasant or dangerous. But for those who know how to take it in a specific way, in can indeed induce a desired buzz.

Is it possible to get high on Tramadol?

Again, it all depends on the user. Some people never experience euphoric sensations or any indication of a high. Others report varying amounts and ways to ingest Tramadol until they get high.
When taken orally, as it should be, Tramadol first passes through the liver. The drug levels in the body will peak about two hours afterward in case of immediate-release pills.
People that do not suffer from pain usually only need smaller doses to reach a high. Some people use 50 mg, while others need 100 mg or 200 mg. But those that take it for medicinal purposes can just as well experience a Tramadol high, although probably at higher doses.

Be aware, that while 300-400 mg is the upper safety limit, the unpleasant side effect can start for some people at 200 mg.

Some people snort Tramadol to achieve much faster results. When passing through the mucus in the nasal passage, the molecules skip the liver and get directly into the bloodstream. From the blood, they cross the blood-brain barrier and arrive promptly to the brain.

Tramadol shares some effects with morphine and heroin, although much weaker. One can expect to feel the following:

  • A state of relaxation and sleepiness
  • Feelings of warmth and well-being

Unpleasant sensations can also occur either during or right after the desired ones faded.

Side Effects Of Tramadol

Side effects of Tramadol may include:

  • Fatigue or fainting
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite and diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea or retching
  • Sometimes muscle weakness or sensory disturbances can occur.

Tramadol Mechanism Of Action

Tramadol is an opiate painkiller, which works be producing local inflammatory mediators. It does not work the same way as accessible over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin, meloxicam or ibuprofen. Tramadol also acts directly on the brain, modifying pain signals; as a result, the source of the pain is unchanged, but the pain is not felt.
Why is important to make that distinction? Because knowing that Tramadol acts on the nerve cells, we can better understand how it affects the body other than simple pain relief.

Medicinal Use Of Tramadol

The primary purpose of Tramadol is, of course, to relief pain. Tramadol doses are available in tablets that are taken orally. They come in immediate- or extended-release form. It is tricky to calculate the exact dose for without a doctor’s instructions,.

Here one can learn how much Tramadol costs.
Example of safe doses:

  • Treatment for adults to treat chronic pain can be an immediate-release tablet in the following format: The initial dose consists of 25 mg a day. Then titrate by increments of 25 mg every three days to until reaching a daily dose of four times 25 mg. Next, every three days patients can increase each dose by 50 mg until they reach the dosage of 50 mg a day. Note that only a doctor can decide on such schedule.
  • Usually 50-100 mg can be taken when needed every 4-6 hours, but not more than 400 mg per day.
  • Guidelines for extended-release tablets are different, as a person only takes one dose per day: after the initial single 100 mg dose the first day, they can increase by 100 mg every five days until they get the maximum amount of 300 mg. Again, only a doctor should decide on the correct dosage increase.

Doses are adjusted individually, depending on:

  • The nature of the pain. For liver and renal conditions, the intake limits are lower.
  • Special populations: children, geriatric patients, pregnant women
  • Type and severity of the pain: moderate, severe, or chronic
  • Pre-existing conditions.

Page Sources

  1. Babalonis S., Lofwall M. R., Nuzzo P. A., Siegel A. J., Walsh S. L. Abuse liability and reinforcing efficacy of oral tramadol in humans. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013; 129(1-2): 116–124. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.09.018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3594406/
  2. Zacny J. P. Profiling the subjective, psychomotor, and physiological effects of tramadol in recreational drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2005; 80(2):273-8. Epub 2005 Jul 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16005162.

Published on: November 30th, 2016

Updated on: February 5th, 2020

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


Leave a comment

  • Jennifer
    It’s a beast. I’m battling now. Good luck with your recovery.
    • Kezza
      Best of luck to all who is battling to come off these things. Me too. I have had a love hate relationship with these little pills. Seriously addictive and so hard to get off. Withdrawal is absolutely vile….but we can do it!! Weaning myself off them at present.
  • Lisa
    Each person’s body processes chemicals and works a little differently. I don’t get any high, just mild pain relief. But my roommate took one of my 50mg (for pain) and was high as a kite!
  • Paul
    Tramadol like anything is open to abuse, I suppose you need to reassess your reasons for taking them if you find you are taking them in instances which they weren’t prescribed for. I am prescribed tramadol for pain, but in the past have found myself taking them when stressed. This is not what they are for, slippery slope.
  • Lance
    Same here Years of recommended dosage No problems Helps with daily life big-time (pain)
  • Aimee
    I agree 1 million percent!!! So many people out there abusing opiates have made it to where now I have to drive 300 miles one way just to get my prescription for my debilitating injuries and illnesses where before, I could get them from my Dr here in my hometown. I don’t do anything or buy anything illegally online but listening to so many of these addicts on here that’s exactly what they do and yet those of us who have legitimate pain are the ones who can’t seem to get our pain killers or have the hardest time getting any. At least getting the ones that work the best.
  • Vikki
    I started taking Tramadol almost 20 years ago when it was still considered experimental. It was so helpful with my chronic pain. I’ve since gone from 50mg per day to 100. I only take it in the morning as it tends to disturb my sleep if I take it later in the day. When I first started taking it, I did get a bit of a euphoric feeling but now I only notice if I don’t take it. The pain is bad.
  • James Harrison
    Currently addicted to trams. After my near death accident and being pumped full of morphine, I used 10 trams a day for the past year, slowly weaning now. And its hell. DO NO TAKE THIS MEDS. THIS STUFF IS HELL !!
  • Charles tuller
    Is it safe to take 50 mg every four hours pain is very bad in the morning then goes away till the next morning
  • Luis Dasilva
    Well, it all depends,,everyone is different.For me they are useless, they are not helping with the pain and am def. Not high
  • Christine collier
    I would like t0 know if tramadol ok to take for spinal stenosis or tooth ache pain
  • Thomas
    What dose do I take as I starter when I want to delay ejaculation as a guy?
  • Victor
    I was on tramadol for 4 days for intense pain from dry socket after a tooth extraction. I hope to never use it again. After a week since coming off it I am still drowsy, a little dizzy at times and mentally cloudy. Abating gradually.
  • Anthony
    There are individual differences in using this drug. It is far less addictive than regular opioids like oxycodone or Percocet when used properly. Degrees of pain relief will vary from person to person, as well negative side effects. The only way to find out if it will work for you is to start off at the minimum dose under the supervision of your doctor and go from there. A feeling of “well being” may be experienced owing to the drug’s effect of increasing levels of serotonin, but this is not the debilitating “high” of other narcotics. Hence it has less potential for addiction. If your aim is to get high by taking excessive amounts of Tramadol, you risk not only addiction but dangerous seizures, so beware. I have been using Tramadol for arthritic knee pain for over a year. I do not use it every day, only when there is a need. And my normal dose is 50-100 mg. ONCE a day. I have no side effects. Again, like many medications, the efficacy of it will vary from patient to patient, so it is best to try it under medical supervision until proper dosage level can be established safely.
  • sue
    am on 50grams of tramadol I been taking 100gramd 4 times a day but am very sleepy been sick,
  • Cheryl Dyer
    Very helpful
  • Dolly
    I took tow yesterday as I suffer with really bad lung pain took one then a other one 3 hours after and now today the next day that is am weak dizzy can’t focus real well kinda feeing sick sleepy cany any one help I don’t do pills or anything only when am in real bad pain that’s it