Ultram is the brand name of tramadol, which is a controlled substance prescription pain reliever. Ultram can be prescribed to treat pain that’s moderate to severe, and it’s classified as an analgesic narcotic that’s opioid-like in how it works on the user’s body and brain.
As a drug classified as an opioid, Ultram works by acting on the brain and central nervous system. As with other similar drugs, when someone takes Ultram is decreases how their brain perceives pain, and this is unique from common over the counter pain medicines that instead change how inflammation signals are produced and sent.
When someone takes Ultram, it binds to certain opioid receptors in the brain and decreases how neurotransmitters send pain sensations. While Ultram does have the potential for abuse and addiction, it tends to be milder than stronger opioids, and the risk of addiction is somewhat lower.
Ultram is also unique as compared to other opioids because it inhibits the uptake of norepinephrine and serotonin. Other opioids don’t have this mechanism of action, and it can help improve the mood of the user. The impacts on serotonin are one of the reasons people may feel a sense of pleasure and an elevated mood when they take tramadol, but it also can lead to depression and anxiety when someone stops taking it.
Ultram was really introduced in many ways as a safer, less addictive alternative to other opioids, and while it may still be considered slightly less habit-forming, research has come out in recent years showing Ultram still carries the risk of abuse and addiction. With that in mind, when a doctor is considering Ultram as a treatment option, they look at whether or not the patient has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or if the potential is high.
Someone with a history of substance abuse probably shouldn’t take Ultram.
There are other people who shouldn’t take Ultram as well. This includes people with a history of depression or mental disorders, people who are taking other depressants, and people who take other medicines that impact their serotonin levels.
Opioids like tramadol work by impacting the central nervous system. They slow down the processes of the CNS including essential functions like breathing. Alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant, so if someone were to combine it with Ultram, the consequences could be deadly.
Sometimes people will mix Ultram and alcohol as a way to amplify the effects of one or both of the substances. Some of the desired effects of Ultram and alcohol together can include euphoria, relaxation, a sense of numbness and drowsiness. Despite these pleasurable effects, there are many serious and even fatal side effects of mixing Ultram and alcohol.
Some of the side effects of Ultram and alcohol take together include:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Coordination problems
- Shallow breathing
- Slow heart rate
- Loss of consciousness
When someone takes Ultram and alcohol together it does increase the effects of both, but this can lead to a higher likelihood of being in an accident, it can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning, and it can also raise the risk of an overdose. If you combine Ultram and alcohol, your breathing may slow to the point that you die, and the chances of this happening are even higher if you abuse Ultram by chewing or crushing it or taking a higher dose than what you’re directed to by your doctor.
So is it ever safe to combine Ultram and alcohol?
No. You should never mix Ultram and alcohol. When you combine the two, it enhances the effects of both but also increases the chances you could experience dangerous or deadly side effects.
Ultram and alcohol aren’t the only substances that shouldn’t be combined. It also shouldn’t be mixed with antidepressants or other central nervous depressants, as well as a range of other medicines. Consult with your doctor before taking Ultram and let them know any and all medicines and supplements you’re already taking.
Alcohol poisoning can be fatal. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately. Do NOT be afraid to seek help. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.