Citation: Ghost Orchid. "Mood Stabilizer for My Otherwise Untreated Bipolar: An Experience with Tramadol (exp98213)". Erowid.org. Jan 28, 2020. erowid.org/exp/98213
Tramadol for Bipolar Disorder
I've been taking tramadol at various doses for about a year now. Previously, my only experiences with opioids/opiates was regular use of OTC Tylenol/codeine. It had been about 8 months between my last use of T/c and my first use of tramadol. I have untreated bipolar disorder and am quite sensitive to any drug with a depressant effect, including pot and alcohol. I am 282 lbs., so I would not use my dosing as a guide.
50 mg: I first took one 50 mg tramadol after a bad lower back spasm. It put me to sleep for hours, and I didn't need to take another for about 8 hours. Combined with an NSAID (ibuprofen for me), this dose is completely effective for back spasm, tension headaches, et. al. It also gives a nice mild euphoria and sense of well-being assuming I haven't been taking any larger doses within the past 2 weeks or so.
100 mg: I first took this dose in anticipation of a hated social event and was in a fantastic, sociable, non-anxious mood for about 12 hours. At this dose, the 'sweating' side effect (indistinguishable from feeling nice and warm) is noticeable. However, I develop a tolerance (probably psychological) to tramadol over time, and I believe it would be impossible to maintain these effects at this dose.
250-300 mg: A good infrequent recreational dose for me - long-lasting euphoria without sleepiness. While my baseline 'self-control' of my bipolar can leave me very tense, socially anxious, and rather surly, this dose relaxes me and lets my natural articulacy do its job. Quite similar to social drunkenness, but more intelligent; or social pot use, but less introspective. I do notice quite a bit of itching at this dose; I have scratched myself to bleeding without feeling any pain because it's such an effective analgesic. These effects last about 10 hours.
450-600 mg: The dose required to get the above effects if I use tramadol more than twice a week. At these doses, the effects last into the next day and need to be slept off in the form of an afternoon nap even if I was able to get up in the morning with no trouble. I get nausea with anything over 500 mg if not taken with a full meal. These effects, not counting the hangover, last about 14 hours.
750 mg-1 g: I calculated the dangerous dose for my weight to be 800 mg and have flirted with doses around 750 mg, but there's no noticeable improvement in the high or lasting power. I accidentally took 1 g and vomited several hours later. At these higher doses, the nausea really detracts from the rest of the experience. These effects also last about 14 hours.
General positive effects (other than analgesia): I believe tramadol functions as both a mild antidepressant and mood stabilizer for my otherwise untreated bipolar, a sort of 'life lubricant' that makes a grating day quite tolerable. It's perfect to take the sting out of socially anxious or tedious tasks such as job interviews and grocery shopping, while still allowing full intellectual and enhanced social functioning. It also takes the unhappy edge off large doses of caffeine and makes having to stay awake after an all-nighter much more pleasant. Finally, it's perfect for 'getting warm' during winter when layers of clothing aren't helping.
Limitations on positive effects: The euphoric effect is mild and only useful if my baseline mood is decent. In a deep depression, it's more of a numbing effect. In this sense, it's not as strong as codeine. Bad experiences that happen during the euphoria can cause an 'overly needy' social effect such as that associated with 'sad drunks.'
General negative effects (at 300 mg+): Itching combined with analgesia makes it possible to do actual damage to myself; I wouldn't even think of taking it after getting a new tattoo. The warm effect isn't so pleasant, and can get quite sweaty, during summer.
General negative effects (at 500 mg+): Can cause anything from mild nausea to a single bout of vomiting. Hangover effect that must be slept off at very high doses. Recurring bouts of hiccups caused by any sudden movement for the duration of the effects, about 14 hours. Really bad cottonmouth.
Usage tips: I find that I get the quickest onset and least nausea if I take it after the first bite of a full meal. If used for pain, it needs to be taken with an NSAID; for me it won't work alone, although it does take the edge off the pain. Mixing regular 50 mg tablets and 200 mg XR (counting the 'immediate' effect of the XRs as 100 mg) results in longer-lasting positive effects without exacerbating the hangover effect; i.e. taking one 200 mg XR and four 50 mg regular will give me 100 mg worth of effects into the next day.
Hypotheticals: I wouldn't mix it with alcohol or marijuana, and I probably wouldn't drive under the influence of tramadol (I'm not the best judge of this since I don't drive at all).
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