What are the differences in codeine vs. tramadol? Can you take codeine and tramadol together? These are frequently asked questions. Here is more information about how codeine and tramadol compare and if they can be taken together.
Article at a Glance:
- Codeine and tramadol are two similar opioid prescription medications given to patients to treat pain.
- Both have a lower risk profile than many other opioids, and both are considered less habit-forming than stronger opioids. There are still risks associated with both, including addiction, physical dependence, and overdose.
- One of the biggest differences is that codeine is a naturally-derived pain medicine, while tramadol is synthesized.
- Combining these two drugs would potentially amplify the side effects and increase the risks of overdose, so it’s not recommended to combine them.
Table of Contents
Codeine vs. Tramadol
There are more similarities between codeine and tramadol than differences. First and foremost, both are opioids and narcotics. They can both be used to treat moderate pain, and are about equally potent. One of the primary differences is that codeine is derived from the poppy plant, just like morphine. Tramadol is a synthesized opioid, which means it has a chemical structure similar to codeine, but it’s made in a lab.
Codeine and tramadol are considered less potent than other opioids. This means that they may have less of a risk of addiction and withdrawal, but both can still lead to physical and psychological addiction and dependence.
Along with the possibility of addiction, they have similar side effects. Common side effects of both can include sedation, dizziness, and constipation.
There are also similar interactions between codeine and tramadol. For example, you shouldn’t drink alcohol with either of these prescription medicines. If you drink alcohol with any opioid, it can lead to a more profound central nervous system depression and breathing can become so slow that it’s at a dangerous or deadly level.
Both codeine and tramadol can affect pain sensation, the brain’s reward system, the gastrointestinal system and respiratory functionality because of how they occupy the brain’s mμ opioid receptors when they’re taken.
For the most part, both are considered relatively benign pain relievers, especially compared to other opioids, as long as they’re taken as instructed.
Should You Take Codeine and Tramadol Together?
While many opioids are combined with other substances to increase effectiveness, they wouldn’t be combined with another opioid. For example, codeine and tramadol shouldn’t be used together in a combination because it could increase the risks and side effects, including the possibility of an overdose occurring.
Other FAQs about Tramadol and Codeine
- Is there codeine in tramadol?
No, there is no codeine in tramadol. Although codeine and tramadol are similar drugs, they are not equivalent. Therefore, there is no codeine in tramadol and vice versa.
- Is codeine a depressant?
Codeine, like other opioids, is a central nervous system depressant. It is possible to feel high or a sense of euphoria when using codeine, particularly at higher doses. Still, this effect tends to be less pronounced compared to many other opioids.
- Is codeine addictive?
Because codeine can make people feel high, it can become addictive. It’s also possible to develop a physical dependence on it. If you were to stop taking it suddenly, you may have withdrawal symptoms.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Acetaminophen and Codeine.” September 13, 2018. Accessed June 21, 2020.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Ultram.” October 14, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Prescrire International. “Weak” Opioid Analgesics. Codeine, Dihydrocodeine and Tramadol: No Less Risky Than Morphine.” February 2016. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Waitemata District Health Board. “Palliative Care: Opioid Conversion Guide.” April 2020. Accessed June 21, 2020.
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