Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
Tramadol is a prescription drug used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. It is available in tablet, extended release tablet, and capsule form. Tramadol is classified as opiate narcotic analgesics, which modifies the way the brain perceives pain.
Tramadol is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the opioid-like effect of the drug causes a narcotic high which makes it prone to abuse. Hence, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning with regard to the prescription of tramadol.
Doctors should not give tramadol to people who are at risk for addiction or to those who have a suicidal tendency. It should not be given to emotionally disturbed people, depressed, or alcoholic people. (1, 2, 3, 4)
How long does Tramadol stay in your system – Infographic
Image 1: A 50 mg tramadol tablet.
Picture Source: img.medscapestatic.com
Picture 2: Tramadol in capsule form.
Photo Source: d1w9csuen3k837.cloudfront.net
Photo 3: Tramadol is a highly addicting substance, which causes withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly.
Image Source: images.addictionblog.org
The issue with taking tramadol
Tramadol can be a habit-forming drug. Taking it for a long period of time or at a high dose may lead to drug tolerance and dependency. If you abruptly stop taking tramadol, it could lead to withdrawal symptoms like nausea with or without vomiting, sweating, tremors, anxiety, and myalgia (muscle ache). A high dose of tramadol can lead to respiratory distress, especially for people with respiratory problems like asthma. (3, 4)
Pregnant women should be extremely careful when it comes to taking drugs like tramadol. It can cause harm to the developing fetus. It can also cause withdrawal symptoms in newborn, which are extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Tramadol can also be passed on to breast milk. Hence, lactating mothers should not take tramadol. (4, 5, 6)
How long does tramadol withdrawal last?
The withdrawal symptoms can start a few hours after deciding to abruptly stop taking the drug. Symptoms such as excessive sweating, anxiousness, nervousness, palpitations, and feeling like pins and needles are touching the skin are all signs of tramadol withdrawal.
Other symptoms include excessive craving for tramadol, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, muscle cramps, and restlessness. The withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days or even months after taking the drug. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on how strong the dose is and how long the patient has been taking the drug. Craving for tramadol is one of the harsh effects of not taking the drugs abruptly. (5, 6, 7)
How long does tramadol stay in your system?
Tramadol can stay in your system for quite some time. To know, how long tramadol stays in your system, you need to know the half-life and peak level of tramadol. How long does it take for a tramadol to kick in? The peak blood plasma level of tramadol hits 1 ½ hour after taking it. The half-life is six hours.
Does tramadol show up in the drug test? The answer is a big YES! It shows up on a drug screen and can be traced in the blood, urine, and even in the hair follicle. (6, 7, 8)
How long does tramadol stay in your system blood test?
The window of detection for tramadol blood test is slim. It can be detected in a few days, although tramadol extended release can stay in the blood for a long period of time. There are various factors that affect the detectability level of tramadol in the body.
These include the age of the patient, body mass, metabolism, hydration, health condition, dosage, and how long the patient has been taking tramadol. Traces of tramadol can be traced in the blood 24 to 36 hours after taking the drug. (7, 8, 9)
How long does tramadol stay in the urine?
Tramadol can be present in the urine up to four days after the last intake. If you have been taking a high dose of tramadol for a long period of time, there is a tendency that it will show up in the urine longer than four days. In fact, tramadol can stay in the urine for more than a week. In the routine opiate drug screening test, tramadol will less likely to show up.
However, it will test positive in the routine prescription drug screening test. If you are to undergo a drug testing while on tramadol, you need to inform the testing center so that they can interpret the test correctly and appropriately. (8, 9)
How long does tramadol stay in your hair?
The metabolites of any drug stay longer in the hair than other parts of the body. It can detect Tramadol for up to 90 days after the last intake. However, it is not reliable when it comes to detecting recent tramadol use. The hair follicle needs a few days or even weeks to grow and it is during such time that the drug can be traced. If the person is bald, then hair in other parts of the body can be used as a specimen.
For Tramadol window of detection refer to the table below.
|Blood Test||1 ½ to 2 days from the last use|
|Urine Test||4 days or even longer (chronic tramadol users)|
|Hair Follicle Test||Up to 90 days from the last use|
Tramadol, although extremely helpful in the management of moderate to severe pain, can be very addicting. If you take tramadol long-term without doctor’s supervision, it can lead to some side effects such as dependency and addiction. Suddenly stopping the drug can lead to undesirable symptoms.
Do not ever take tramadol without the prescription and supervision of a medical professional. If you are addicted to Tramadol, then the more you need professional help. Tramadol addiction, just like any other types of substance addiction can be managed. You need to be put in an institution wherein a team of medical experts will work hand in hand to help you get back on the right track. (8, 9, 10)
Disclaimer: Tramadol is a prescription drug and should only be used under the doctor’s supervision. The purpose of this article is to draw awareness and information about Tramadol and its effects on the body. Taking Tramadol against the doctor’s advice can lead to serious health complications such as addiction. This article is to educate people and raise awareness of the use of Tramadol and its impact on the body when used the wrong way. Let this article be a guide to come up with healthy life choices.