Tramadol [and similar medicinal drugs] is an opioid analgesic. This means that it works by binding to the opioid receptors which are found throughout the brain, and also in the spinal cord and digestive tract. Opioid receptors are an active part of the body’s fight-or-flight response. In other words, tramadol works by blocking or limiting the fight-or-flight response, and reducing the way you view pain.

Again, tramadol is an opioid analgesic. This means that it is a synthetic opiate. Opiates are found in nature, such as in the opium poppy plant. The effects of opiates are…euphoria, including intense pleasure and strong feelings of warmth and wellbeing.

As I have also written, though, the side effects are commonly “drowsiness, lethargy, constricted pupils, confusion, nausea and vomiting, reduced sexual urges, slurred and slow speech, pain relief, impaired coordination” and that “very many people experience the other side of effects of tramadol [and similar medicinal drugs]…before they experience any high”.

What is “high”? This is a very subjective question and word. If you input “high” at Wikipedia then you will be lead to the article “Substance intoxication” and, more relevantly, to “opioid intoxication” which leads you to the article “Toxidrome” and, pertinently, to section 4 which mentions the symptoms and complications of it, as well as it having altered mental states (or altered state of consciousness).

These are extremely subjective words and could very well require a treatise consisting of philosophy, psychology, physiology, biology and other subjects to fully comprehend and appreciate every nuance involved. The Wikipedia article simply reiterates that psychoactive drugs (of which opiates/opioids are one example) help in changing the state of consciousness and that they “numb the senses and cause a false state of consciousness…”

There is a 34-page pdf that attempts to delineate this topic but seems to provide contradictory or illogical examples and does not provide tangible descriptions of the altered state of consciousness. It says that meditation is an altered state of consciousness. Does that mean that opioids cause you to meditate? More likely, meditation itself causes (or can cause) an altered state of consciousness.

If we simply say that an altered state of consciousness is different, a deviation from, changed or an abnormality then that does not fully satisfy our curiosity. An airplane is a vehicle or form of transportation. A scooter is a different vehicle or form of transportation. However, if we have never seen a scooter and have no concept of it then what is different and how can we know or experience it in order to provide the difference(s)?

Perhaps though, we ought to focus not on altered but on consciousness. From this we learn that the normal (non-altered) form of consciousness is the beta wave in the brain and that the other forms are alpha, theta, delta and gamma (although there is some dispute as to whether or not this exists), and that high doses of opioids lead to the formation of delta waves.

What a “High” can do?

The increased appearance of delta waves in the brain lead to many desirable and positive benefits (although some can be questioned as to whether or not they actually exist or are just a figment of the imagination–although if you are seeking to become high, then it may not matter to you).

1) Advanced healing of body and mind: The body is regenerated and restored. The brain helps to do this during deep sleep where delta waves are greatly increased, and during consciousness where delta waves are greatly increased due to opioids, advanced meditation, binaural beats or other mechanisms.

2) Boosted immune system: More tangibly, there is a stronger immune system, warding off illnesses.

3) Connection to the unconscious mind: People can feel more connected within themselves, have a better intuition, and recall long-forgotten memories and feelings.

4) Deep level of relaxation is achieved: It can be extremely difficult to stay awake and conscious during episodes of high delta activity (in normal day-to-day activity, and in mechanisms other than taking high doses of opioids), but when it is done then there is a feeling of complete restoration.

5) Extreme bliss: This is sometimes reported by adept and advanced meditators, who are able to reach the delta state while still conscious. (Almost everybody else can and do reach the delta state, but only while having a dreamless sleep.) Similar feelings are of tranquility and harmony.

6) Paranormal experiences: People have the feeling of being out of their bodies, and of experiencing death (seeing a tunnel, bright lights, and meeting the dead–often relatives or known people).

7) Release of anti-aging hormones and the reduction of cortisol: Delta waves result in the production of DHEA and melatonin which are important anti-aging hormones and which help you look and feel much younger than you are. They also result in less or no cortisol, which is found in people who are stressed and which can lead to a gamut of problems.

8) Release of human growth hormone, responsible for bone (especially during early childhood), muscle and body growth, and for the reduction of body fat. You may be able to get the benefits of going to the gym without having to go to the gym.

9) State of empathy: People feel more connected and compassionate to others. They are able to discern the feelings of others, have an increased social intelligence, avoid conflicts, and relate to others more meaningfully.

Among the opioids themselves, there are a variety of results. Codeine is only slightly euphoric, very sedating, and has the side effects of nausea and itchiness. Fentanyl is very euphoric, like hydrocodone but also very sedating, like codeine. One person found that the best(?) way to take it was to smoke the gel that came from the patch form of it, and found that the effects were short-lived, and resulted in a lot of nausea.

Hydrocodone produces more euphoria and less sedation than codeine, and also has the side effects of nausea and itchiness. Hydromorphone requires taking it intravenously, resulting in the rush of morphine and the high of oxycodone, but which lasts only a minute or so.

Methadone is very euphoric and the effects can last a long time (although it can also be delayed for a long time), but the effects can last a long time (i.e., the withdrawal from it can take a long time, perhaps even a few weeks).

Morphine is the definition of euphoria, according to one user, is sedating, and the effects can be felt for a long time. However, for it to be fully felt, it has to be taken intravenously, and most people feel the pins-and-needles and experience a horrific headache. Oxycodone is very euphoric and energetic. The powder is often snorted, or the pills are chewed, or it is sometimes even smoked by addicts. The side effect is of itchiness.

Oxymorphone is euphoric (very much like heroin), produces a rush (like that of hydromorphone) and has an energetic buzz (like that of a large dose of oxycodone), but also produces more nausea than others.

The answer to the question is yes, opioids can make you high but they alleviate a very real problem – pain. If it is just a high that you want, then these prescription medicines are not the way to go – You may simply want to try meditating and listening to binaural beats which can also produce the delta waves that may be the source of the feelings associated with opioids – not close, but it’s a different kind of high, try it J

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Martin Nance
Hello, I am Martin Nance. I have recently retired after a lifetime of working as a pharmacist. I now live with my wife in Texas. In my 37 years of helping people manage medications and health, I know the meaningful impact a trusted pharmacist can bring to people's lives. I still love helping people and hope to provide information that can protect and help people in need.