Tramadol is a generic opioid medication that is also sold under the brand names Conzip and Ultram. It is often prescribed for pain after surgery or for some chronic pain conditions. However, like other opioids, tramadol can be habit-forming and lead to physical dependence.

If you have been abusing tramadol and you are about to detox or you need to pass a drug test,  you may be wondering how long tramadol stays in your system. Well, there are numerous different factors that dictate how long drugs are in your system and for how long they will show up on a drug test.

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is weaker than, but comparable to, other prescription opioids like morphine and codeine. The drug binds to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks pain signals to reduce feelings of pain. In the process, the drug increases the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. These chemicals affect the reward system and are what make opioids so addictive.[1]

Tramadol may be available as a liquid injection or drops, however, it is most commonly prescribed in the form of an instant-release or extended-release pill or capsule. Both the instant and extended-release tablets will take effect 30-60 minutes after ingestion and their effects can last for 12 to 24 hours.

Common Side Effects of Tramadol

Common side effects of Ultram (tramadol) include:[2]

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

Even though the effects of tramadol wear off within 24 hours, the drug stays in your system for far longer than that.

What Affects How Long Tramadol Stays In Your System?

Everyone’s body is different and processes substances at a different rate. As a result, there are several individual factors that influence the amount of time it takes tramadol to completely leave your system. These factors include:

  • Your metabolism – Metabolism is the process of breaking down substances and eliminating them from the body. People who have a slower metabolism, including those who are older, overweight, or consume a poor diet, will see that tramadol stays in their system longer than someone with a fast metabolism.
  • Liver and kidney function – Drugs are processed using the liver and kidneys, so if you have poor kidney or liver function, it may take your body longer to eliminate tramadol from your system.
  • Route of administration – The way in which you consume drugs will affect how long they stay in your system. When snorted, smoked, or injected, tramadol will enter your system faster, absorb into the bloodstream faster, and be eliminated from your body at a quicker rate than it would be if you had swallowed the drug.
  • Usual dosage – The more tramadol you take in a higher dose, the longer the drug will remain in your system.
  • Frequency of use – The more often you use tramadol and the longer you have abused it, the longer it will take the drug to leave your system.

Due to all of these different individual factors, it is difficult to say exactly how long it will take tramadol and tramadol metabolites to leave your system.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your Body?

When ingested, tramadol produces opioid-like effects on the brain and body. As it works through the system and is processed, the elimination of the drug from your body begins in the liver.

The liver breaks tramadol down into approximately 23 different metabolites. Metabolites are what drug tests can screen for. While standard drug tests do not screen for tramadol, some advanced screenings can be used to test for tramadol metabolites. The two primary metabolites that may be tested for on a drug test are:

  1. O-desmethyl-tramadol
  2. N-desmethyl-tramadol

After the liver breaks down the drug into its metabolites, the kidney is then responsible for excreting or eliminating the metabolites from the body.

In a healthy individual, tramadol itself has a half-life of 5-6 hours, while O-desmethyl-tramadol has a half-life of 8 hours.[3] It typically takes 4-5 half-lives for a substance to be eliminated from the system, so it can be said that tramadol only stays in your body for 24-36 hours.

For How Long is Tramadol Detected in Your Urine, Blood, Hair, and Saliva?

Even though tramadol only stays in your body for a couple of days, drug tests may be able to detect tramadol in your system for much longer. This will not only depend on the individual factors listed above, but it will also depend on the type of drug test being used because different drug tests have different detection windows.

Here is what you can expect when it comes to screening for tramadol in your urine, blood, hair, and saliva.

  • Urine tests are the most frequently used type of drug screening. A urinalysis can detect tramadol between 1 to 4 days after your last use.
  • Blood tests are one of the more invasive types of drug tests so they are rarely used. However, tramadol can be detected in your blood between 12 and 24 hours after your last dose.
  • Hair follicle tests have the longest detection period of all drug screenings. Tramadol may be detected in your hair for 4-7 months after your last use.
  • Saliva tests have a very short detection window and can only detect tramadol for 48 hours.

In the end, there are a lot of factors that determine how long drugs stay in your system. And, if you’ve been abusing tramadol and are worried about passing a drug test, it may be time to reflect on your substance abuse habits and consider getting help.

Find Help for Tramadol Abuse and Addiction Today

Many people mistakenly believe that tramadol is safer than other opioids, however, this drug is addictive and can lead to an overdose if abused.[1] If you or someone you know is abusing tramadol, our team at Comprehensive Wellness Centers is here to help.

We will stand beside you every step of the way as we help and guide you to your new life free from addiction. Every part of our JCAHO certified recovery program has been created to prepare for your time with us. Providing you with the personal attention and ethical care that you need and deserve is the foundation of our successful, personalized treatment program. Call now to get started.