How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

how long does tramadol stay in your system

Tramadol is a weak opioid medication that is commonly prescribed under the brand names Ultram, ConZip, or Ultracet to manage moderate to severe pain. Like other opioids, tramadol works by binding to and activating opioid receptors throughout the body. It interrupts pain signals, thereby reducing perceived pain.

However, tramadol is also considered a monoamine reuptake inhibitor, which means it inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin. This mechanism is thought to be one of the reasons why it is such an effective painkiller. In 2021, approximately 30.5 million prescriptions were written for tramadol.[1]

Tramadol can ease pain, providing relief when people need it the most, but it can also be highly addictive. Tramadol abuse can harm the mind and body as well as lead to overdose.

To ensure safe and effective usage, it is crucial to understand how long tramadol remains detectable in the body. How long tramadol stays in your system can vary depending on various factors, such as your dosage, duration of use, metabolism, test type, and more. But for most people, tramadol is detectable in urine for 1-4 days after the last use, in blood for 12-24 hours, and saliva for up to 48 hours.

how long does tramadol stay in your system infographic

How Long Do the Effects of Tramadol Last?

Tramadol comes in the form of a pill or extended-release capsule. The effects of immediate-release tramadol may appear 30-45 minutes after ingestion and can last for about 4-6 hours. The effects of extended-release versions can last for 12-24 hours.

Common side effects of tramadol include:[2]

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Headache

How is Tramadol Metabolized in the Body?

Tramadol is rapidly absorbed after oral administration, reaching peak plasma concentrations within one to two hours. Once absorbed, it undergoes metabolism primarily in the liver, where enzymes like CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 break it down into metabolites.[3] These metabolites are then eliminated through the kidneys via urine.

Tramadol is metabolized into at least 23 different metabolites, with the main ones being O-desmethyl-tramadol and N-desmethyl-tramadol.

Tramadol has a half-life of 5-6 hours, but O-desmethyl-tramadol, the pharmacologically active metabolite that drug tests screen for, has a longer half-life of 8 hours. It can take about 4-5 half-lives for a substance to leave your system completely, so tramadol can stay in your body for 32-40 hours.

Tramadol Detection in Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair via Drug Testing

Most standard drug tests do not look for tramadol, but advanced screening panels can detect the substance in your body. Different detection methods can be employed to detect Tramadol in the body, including urine, blood, saliva, and hair tests. The detection window varies for each method:

Urine

The most commonly used type of test is a urine test. Tramadol can stay in urine for 1-4 days after your last dose.

Blood

Blood tests are usually only used in medical settings to confirm or deny intoxication of a substance. Tramadol will only be detected in the blood 12-24 hours after your last use.

Saliva

Saliva tests have a very short detection window of only 48 hours after your last dose.

Hair

Hair tests have a long detection window, with the ability to detect tramadol and other drugs in your system for up to 90 days.

Variables That Influence How Long Tramadol Stays in Your System

There are several factors that can impact the duration of tramadol’s presence in your body. These include:

  • Duration of use and dosage – Taking tramadol in higher doses or for longer periods of time allows the drug to build up in your system, requiring more time to be eliminated from the body.
  • Age and weight – Older individuals and those with higher body mass indexes (BMIs) may experience longer elimination times.
  • Metabolism – People with slower metabolisms will metabolize tramadol and other substances at a slower rate.
  • Liver and kidney function – If the liver or kidney is impaired, tramadol’s elimination will be delayed, and it will stay in the body longer.

How Can You Detox From Tramadol?

The only way to get tramadol out of your system is to stop taking it and detox from it. Over time, your body will do its job and eliminate the tramadol. However, if you have been abusing tramadol or have been taking it daily for an extended period of time, you may experience withdrawal.

Tramadol withdrawal symptoms are usually felt 12-24 hours after the last dose. Symptoms often peak in severity after 1-3 days and subside after 5-7 days. Common symptoms of tramadol withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes

If you or a loved one experience one or more of these symptoms when you stop taking tramadol, it may be helpful to attend a detox and treatment program. Opioid detox centers can monitor individuals for any health complications and prescribe any necessary medications for symptom relief.

Find Help for Tramadol Abuse and Addiction Today

After detox, an inpatient or outpatient rehab center can help you or your loved one identify the root cause of your substance abuse and pave the way for long-term recovery. Treatment typically involves behavioral and holistic therapies, but it may also include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with Suboxone, Vivitrol, or methadone. Co-occurring conditions, including all mental health disorders, should also be addressed during rehab.

At Moving Mountains Recovery, we believe that it is vital for treatment providers to assist clients in finding a passion for life. Our goal is to do just that; to guide our clients toward discovering something that gives them purpose. Nestled in the quiet serenity of Randolph, New Jersey, our innovative recovery programs help individuals find the motivation necessary to persevere through challenging situations.

To learn more about our addiction treatment programs or to get help for yourself or a loved one, please contact us today.

References:

  1. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Tramadol, Retrieved June 2023 from
  2. National Library of Medicine: Tramadol, Retrieved June 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537060/
  3. National Library of Medicine: Clinical pharmacology of tramadol, Retrieved June 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15509185/
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