The opioid tramadol is used as analgesic drug, and more recently was also proposed for the management of major depressive disorder. However, growing evidence suggests a link between opioid system dysfunction and suicidal behaviors, raising the question of tramadol use in view of the high addictive and suicidal risk. Here, we present the case of a young adult woman with multiple suicide attempts related to tramadol addiction.
A 25-year-old woman was admitted for suicide attempt by phlebotomy in the Department of Psychiatric Emergency and Acute Care, Montpellier (France), in March 2020. The suicide attempt occurred 3 days after an abrupt tramadol withdrawal. In 2018, due to spinal disc herniation, she had a first prescription of tramadol to which she became addicted. The patient described an effect on psychological pain and suicidal ideation. However, she had to increase tramadol dose to obtain the desired effects, and for several months her intake was 2 000 mg per day. When she could not obtain tramadol any longer, suicidal ideation and psychological pain increased, leading to the suicide attempt. At the time of a worldwide opioid crisis that contributes to increasing suicidal behaviors, this case raises questions about tramadol prescription (often considered to be less addictive and with lower abuse potential) to individuals at risk of suicide.