One common concern among people who misuse drugs like tramadol is how long it can stay in your system and be detected by a drug test.
Tramadol use can be detected through the following drug screens:
- urine tests: one to four days
- oral fluids test (e.g saliva): up to 48 hours
- hair tests: up to 90 days
- blood tests: up to 24 hours
The timeframe for how long you can test positive for tramadol use can vary. Taking multiple drugs, being dependent on tramadol, or taking high doses of tramadol can affect detection times.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is a synthetic prescription drug that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opiates, or opioid analgesics.
Although prescribed as a pain-reliever, some side effects of tramadol, such as euphoria and relaxation, can be psychologically addictive.
Tramadol is sold under the following brand names:
- Ultram (discontinued)
- Ultracet (with acetaminophen)
Tramadol is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a schedule IV controlled substance. This means it has a low risk for abuse and dependence.
Even so, there have been reports of misuse among people who take this prescription medication.
Tramadol is most commonly misused by people with chronic pain issues, those with a history of drug addiction, and health professionals.
Tramadol Detection Times
The detection time for tramadol refers to the amount of time the drug can remain detectable in the system. Traces of tramadol, or its metabolites, can be detected in the urine, hair, blood, or saliva.
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How Long Tramadol Remains In Urine
Tramadol can be detected in urine samples for one to four days on average. This is the preferred, or most common, type of drug testing method used.
How Long Tramadol Remains In Blood
Blood tests can detect tramadol for the shortest period of time: up to 24 hours after your last dose.
This is because tramadol has a short half-life of six to nine hours and does not remain in the blood for long.
How Long Tramadol Remains In Saliva
Tramadol can be detected in saliva samples within minutes. It can remain detectable in saliva for up to 48 hours, or two days, after last use.
How Long Tramadol Remains In Hair
Hair testing methods can detect traces of tramadol in hair for up to three months, or 90 days. This type of test offers the longest detection window for detecting drug use.
What Factors Can Affect How Long Tramadol Stays In Your System?
Not everyone metabolizes drugs in the same amount of time. The amount of time it takes for the body to get rid of tramadol can be influenced by a variety of factors.
Factors that can affect tramadol detection times include:
- Frequency of use: Taking tramadol regularly can lead to increased tolerance and physical dependence. This can affect how long it stays in the system.
- Amount/dose used: Taking high doses of tramadol can cause it to remain detectable in the body for longer.
- Polydrug use: Taking multiple drugs (including other opioids) can affect how long it takes for tramadol to leave the system.
- Metabolic rate: Having a slow metabolism—due to older age or a health condition—can lengthen the detection window.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about seven percent of the population are estimated to be “poor metabolizers” of tramadol.
People within this group may have traces of tramadol in their systems for a longer period of time.
What Does Tramadol Do?
Tramadol is a central nervous system depressant that binds to certain opioid receptors in the body. This can affect breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Tramadol acts on the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which are linked to pain sensation, mood, and the body’s fight-or-flight response.
Taking excessive doses of tramadol, or mixing it with other depressants like alcohol can be dangerous. This can lead to life-threatening respiratory depression and overdose.
How Do You Get Tramadol Out Of Your System?
The only way to get tramadol out of your system is to stop taking it. For people who are dependent on tramadol, this may lead to uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
Tramadol dependence is most common among people who misuse it. In this case, the safest way to get off tramadol is to enter a medically supervised detox program.
A detox program can offer medical supervision, treatment for withdrawal symptoms, and can refer you to additional substance abuse treatment as needed.
Treatment Options For Tramadol Abuse And Addiction
Tramadol, like any other drug, can become a drug of abuse. If you or a loved one is misusing tramadol, beginning an inpatient or outpatient treatment program may be recommended.
Treatment for tramadol abuse and addiction may involve:
- medications for opioid use disorder (e.g. methadone, buprenorphine)
- behavioral therapy
- chronic pain management
The length of tramadol treatment programs and their intensity can vary depending on the type of program and the treatment provider.
Recovering from drug abuse is possible. Call our helpline today to find a detox program or addiction treatment center near you.
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- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)—TRAMADOL
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—ULTRAM (tramadol hydrochloride) tablets
- Redwood Toxicology Laboratory—Laboratory Testing Reference Guide