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Tramadol to Reduce Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Identifier:
First received: September 1, 2005
Last updated: January 11, 2017
Last verified: August 2008
Individuals with opioid addiction often experience serious withdrawal symptoms that may make relapse unavoidable. Tramadol, a medication that is currently used to treat pain caused by chronic conditions such as cancer or joint pain, may also be effective at reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of tramadol at reducing withdrawal symptoms in individuals addicted to opioid drugs.

Condition Intervention Phase
Opioid-Related Disorders Drug: Tramadol Drug: Naloxone Drug: Morphine Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Double
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Withdrawal Suppression Efficacy of Tramadol

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms (measured by Visual Analog Scale during the experimental sessions)
  • Opioid agonist effects (measured by Visual Analog Scale during the experimental sessions)
  • Physiological effects (measured by pulse oximeter, blood pressure, heart rate, and pupillary camera during the experimental sessions)

Enrollment: 16
Study Start Date: February 2005
Study Completion Date: December 2005
Primary Completion Date: December 2005 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are a major contributing factor for why opioid treatment programs often fail. Individuals with severe opioid withdrawal symptoms may experience shaking, muscle and bone pain, nausea, depression, anxiety, and drug craving. Tramadol is a medication that is currently used to treat moderate to severe pain in individuals with cancer, joint pain, or pain resulting from surgery. Because of its pharmacological profile, tramadol may also be useful in treating opioid withdrawal. Further research is needed to confirm the benefits of tramadol for opioid addicts. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of tramadol at reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent individuals.

This 6-week inpatient study will enroll opioid-dependent individuals. Participants will be required to reside at the research clinic for the entire study. All participants will receive morphine maintenance treatment on a daily basis. Twice a week participants will take part in experimental challenge sessions in which they will be randomly assigned to receive varying doses of tramadol, naloxone, morphine, or placebo. These sessions will assess the ability of tramadol to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms. Participants will complete performance tasks to measure psychomotor and cognitive functioning. Heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the experimental sessions. A specialized camera will also be used to assess pupillary response of the eyes. Questionnaires and self-reports will be completed to assess medication effects and withdrawal symptoms. Following the end of the study, all participants will be offered outpatient drug abuse treatment.


Ages Eligible for Study:   21 Years to 55 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Meets DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for opioid dependence
  • Is in good physical health
  • Qualifies for treatment with opioid agonist therapy (e.g., methadone)
  • If female, must have a negative pregnancy test prior to study entry

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Evidence of significant medical illness (e.g., insulin dependent diabetes mellitus)
  • Evidence of significant psychiatric illness (e.g., schizophrenia)
  • Currently seeking treatment for substance abuse
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00142896

United States, Maryland
Johns Hopkins University (BPRU) Bayview Campus
Baltimore, Maryland, United States, 21224-6823
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Principal Investigator: Eric C. Strain, MD Johns Hopkins University
  More Information

Responsible Party: Eric C. Strain/Principal Investigator, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Identifier: NCT00142896     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: NIDA-18125-1
Study First Received: September 1, 2005
Last Updated: January 11, 2017

Keywords provided by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
Opiate Addiction
Opiate Dependence

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Opioid-Related Disorders
Substance-Related Disorders
Chemically-Induced Disorders
Mental Disorders
Analgesics, Opioid
Central Nervous System Depressants
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Sensory System Agents
Peripheral Nervous System Agents
Narcotic Antagonists processed this record on August 22, 2017