Tramadol is a type of opioid, as is morphine. It is normally used in the management of moderate to severe pain under the brand name, Ultram or Conzip. Most people who take this medication have a prescription from a doctor, in most cases after surgery. It is also a common prescription opioid for people with chronic pain as a result of conditions such as cancer.
From 1995 to 2014, Tramadol wasn’t considered for addictive properties (Harvard Health). Even though primarily tramadol is used in the management of pain, the drug is habit-forming. If you take it for a long time or you take it without a prescription, you might become addicted. Many people get addicted to pain medication without knowing the risks. This can eventually lead to the need for help coming off the drug that the body has become dependent on. But how long does Tramadol stay in your system if you try to quit?
How Tramadol Works
Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain. The medication works like other pain medication such as morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone. To treat moderate or severe pain, the medication binds the opioid receptors in your brain to keep pain signals blocked.
However, besides blocking pain signals, Tramadol also increases the effects of serotonin and norepinephrine, two hormones that are important in pain perception. After relieving pain, you might get tramadol addiction and it might take some time for your drug tests, urine tests, and blood tests to come back clean. Hair follicle tests usually come out positive for a couple of months after using tramadol.
Are There Different Forms and Strengths of Tramadol?
How long does tramadol stay in your system? Is the time period determined by the form of the drug? Tramadol most often comes in the form of tablets and capsules. It is also available as drops or injections outside the US.
Injections and drops work faster than capsules and tablets. Within 30 minutes, the drug will have taken effect and then the effects last between 4 and 6 hours. These fast-acting doses are prescribed for short-term acute pain.
Capsules and tablets are slow-acting forms of tramadol. They take more than an hour for their effects to set in but can stay in your system for longer – their effects can be felt for up to 24 hours.
How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?
Tramadol can be detected in your saliva, urine, blood, and hair. When testing for Tramadol, you will test positive for it for different periods depending on the test that is carried out. For instance, hair tests might come out positive even after a few months after using the drug.
- In saliva tests, tramadol will be detected for up to 48 hours
- In blood tests, one tests positive for tramadol 48 hours after taking it
- In urine, tramadol is detectable for up to 72 hours after taking it
- In hair, tramadol is detectable for up to 90 days, sometimes for up to 6 months
Most drug screening exercises do not include tramadol and other opioids. However, sometimes special screening might be requested for opioids. One the detection window is passed and the life of tramadol is over, all tests will come out negative.
What Determines How Long Tramadol Can Stay In Your System?
Many factors determine whether tests will come out negative or positive after some time. These factors include:
- Dosage Taken: If you take a higher dose for a long amount of time, it might take longer to get negative results from drug tests.
- The Frequency of Substance Abuse: Sometimes you do not realize you are abusing a substance until it is too late. If you only take a single dose after a long time, it will take a short time to clear off your system. However, if you took the drug more frequently, it will take longer to clear off your system.
- The Form of Tramadol Taken: Did you take drops, injections, capsules, or tablets? Drops and injections are easy to absorb and extract. They tend to move through the system faster than tablets or capsules.
- Your body’s metabolism: How long does it take your body to break down substances? When you ingest medication, your body will break it down. The metabolic rate with which your body breaks down substances is determined by your age, diet, body composition, activities, and genetics. If your metabolism is slow, it will take longer to break down tramadol and so tests might come out positive for longer. Everyone’s metabolism is different.
- Organ Health: If your kidney or your liver does not function as they should, it might take your body longer to break down tramadol and that means it will stay longer in your system.
- Age: Generally, the bodies of older people have reduced organ function and reduced metabolism. To this end, it takes them longer to break down tramadol.
What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?
There is a range of side effects that come with using tramadol. The severity of the side effects is dependent on the dosage you have taken, and for how long. Some of the common side effects pf Tramadol include:
- depressed mood
- dry mouth
- nausea and vomiting
- general body weakness or discomfort
In high dosages or overdose of Tramadol, some people might experience:
- slower breathing
- serotonin syndrome
- adrenal insufficiency
- low levels of male hormones
- suicidal thoughts
Because the opioid is habit-forming, ceasing the use of Tramadol will cause withdrawal symptoms that might be fatal. You can avoid withdrawal symptoms by gradually stopping the use of drugs. Again, the drug might interact with other medications you might be taking. As such, talk to your doctor before taking OR tapering off of tramadol, especially if you are on other medications.
The drug is life-threatening for children, pets, and developing fetuses. It can also impair your memory and affect the way you process visual details.
How Can I Get Tramadol Out of My System?
Tramadol might take more than a few days to leave your system depending on how much you have ingested. The drug, which is prescribed to treat moderate to serve pain, lasts in your system for about 72 hours. If you have taken it for long, it stays in your hair follicles for three months or longer.
If you are dependent on tramadol, you need to reduce the dosage you take gradually until you do not experience any withdrawal symptoms. Always do this under doctor supervision and recommendation. If you try to stop cold-turkey without knowing the risks, you might experience discomfort or dangerous side effects.
You should not only worry about the risk of dependence but also the risk of fatal side effects. If you have any questions on tramadol, talk to your doctor. If you or a family member need to get off of tramadol abuse or any other opioid addiction, get professional help at an addiction treatment or rehab center.