How Long Does Tramadol Stay In The System?

Last Updated: February 5, 2020

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In System?

Tramadol can stay in system for up to months after the last dose. It may remain in the blood in detectable amount for up to 24 hours. Likewise, the urine and hair samples may contain it for up to 5 days and 90 days respectively. In any case, various other factors also influence it.
How long does Tramadol stay in system? Well, individuals may find many different answers when they google it. No doubt, there are reasons for such significant differences among the patients. Every individual has a unique ability to digest, metabolize and excrete the drug. Besides, other drug factors further complicate the situation. They include doses, drug preparations, and simultaneous use of other medications.
Thus, tracking the effect of every variable and determining the time for each is seemingly impossible. Nonetheless, certain standards help to interpret the test results.

A Quick Overview Of Tramadol

It is an opioid pain medication that treats moderate to severe pain. It reduces the pain by altering how the brain processes the pain signals. Moreover, it increases the levels of certain brain chemicals. Long-term users and abusers may develop an addiction. So, doctors recommend exercising an extreme caution during the therapy.

How Is Tramadol Metabolized?

After the patient takes it by mouth, Tramadol is metabolized by two ways. First, the liver enzymes convert it into O-desmethyl tramadols and N-desmethyl tramadols. Then, the remaining drug and the metabolites are further metabolized by a pathway called conjugation. Notably, O-desmethyl tramadols are biologically active. Thus, it can produce the effects similar to that of the unchanged drug.

Detection Window: What It Means For Tramadol Test

A “window of detection” refers to the period during which a sample has enough drug (or metabolites) to fall within the cut-off range. Users should understand that a negative result does not mean they have not taken the drug. Rather, it means the amount present in the sample is lower than the cut-off value. With a positive test, one will need to have a confirmatory test, though a negative result requires no further tests. Experts say a positive Tramadol test indicates drug use within the previous three days.

Tramadol Urine Test: When to Take the Test and How Long it Remains in the Urine

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Your System
The window of detection of Tramadol, when checking the urine, is 3-5 days. Meaning, if someone takes a tablet today and test within 3-5 days, the amount present in the urine test may be well above the cut-off range.
Also, the urine sample has approximately 30% of the original drug while the metabolites contribute about 60% of the total excreted drug. Put simply, if an individual takes a 100 mg dose, 30 mg will be present in the urine as Tramadol itself. The test determines the presence of both the parent drug and metabolites.
Urine tests to determine the current or past use of narcotics is common. One may need to take a test before joining a new office. As a matter of fact, the urine test is straightforward and easy to carry out. Also, the drug tends to remain in the urine for a longer time than in the blood or saliva.

Tramadol Blood Test: When to Take the Test and How Long it Remains in the Blood?

Blood tests for Tramadol are not as common as the urine test. For the most part, it is because drawing the blood sample is an invasive procedure. Yet, some hospitals may use the blood test to measure the patient’s response. Moreover, scientists may also draw the blood sample for research purposes.
The detection window of Tramadol using the blood sample may be twenty1-24 hours. Studies have found that the sustained-release tablets can reach peak concentration 4.9 hours after one takes it.

Hair Analysis for Tramadol Detection

Normally, the standard detection window for Tramadol using a hair analysis is 10-90 days. However, deviations in the timeframe are entirely possible. Note that the hair can retain it for a longer time in comparison with the urine or blood sample.

Factors That Influence How Long Tramadol Stays in The System

How long Tramadol stays in the system may not correspond to the test results. That said, one may have it in the blood or urine and still get a negative result; when the amount in the sample lies below the cut-off level.
Another determinant of the test result is the sensitivity of the procedure that the person uses. Understandably, the test with a higher sensitivity detects even a slight amount of the drug in the sample.
Scientists estimate how long Tramadol stays in system by analyzing four parameters; absorption, metabolism, distribution and elimination (A, D, M, E). While all these terms may be too technical, one can make sense of it by an alternate way. Here it is.

  • Absorption: The time it takes to reach the bloodstream and the amount in the blood following the intake. Foods in the stomach, the individual capacity to digest, and the type of Tramadol preparation affect absorption.
  • Distribution: The amount present in various body tissues after it gets absorbed into the blood. Body fat is key to determining how much drug is present in the tissues. Also, the drug’s solubility in fat influences distribution. So, a large person may retain Tramadol for a long time.
  • Metabolism: In this process, various body enzymes convert the parent drug into other chemicals. Notably, liver enzymes metabolize most drugs. Thus, if one has a liver disorder like hepatitis, the ability to metabolize is largely reduced. Besides, as a person ages, the liver enzymes dip making metabolism slow down.
  • Elimination: Elimination is the process of flushing out a drug or its metabolites. Kidneys are the major organs of elimination. Thus, the presence of some kidney disorders can slow down the excretion.

Lastly, if a person is taking another medication, it can affect any of parameters mentioned above.

Want To Know More?

Talk to the experts to know more about how long Tramadol stays in system and the withdrawal symptoms. They are one of the few sources for an authentic health information. With the correct information, one can expect to benefit better.
Looking for professional medical help for Tramadol or opioid addiction? Get the best rehabs page here.


Page Sources

  1. Sebastián Videla, Mounia Lahjou, Anna Vaqué, Mariano Sust, Marisol Escriche, Lluis Soler, Artur Sans, Eric Sicard, Neus Gascón, Gregorio Encina, Carlos Plata‐Salamán. Pharmacokinetics of multiple doses of co‐crystal of tramadol–celecoxib: findings from a four‐way randomized open‐label phase I clinical trial. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2018 Jan; 84(1): 64–78. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5736845/
  2. Hamid Khosrojerdi, Ghazal Alipour Talesh, Gholam Hassan Danaei, Sara Shokooh Saremi, Afrouz Adab, Reza Afshari. Tramadol half life is dose dependent in overdose. Daru. 2015; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4348403/

Published on: June 5th, 2017

Updated on: February 5th, 2020

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

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  • Linda Gray
    Why didn’t my doctor tell me all this about the driving? I would never have taken this drug. I am going to have my friend drive me everywhere for while. 90 days ? This is scary. I take it for legitimate pain. Now I will just suffer with the pain, I guess.
  • Robert Steven Vande Vrede
    I have become addicted to Tramadol because of severe pain to my knee caused by a drunken stupor one night. I take about 200mg a day of Tramadol and also consume allot of alcohol with it. I would like to get my blood tested but I am afraid the test will not be correct because of all the alcohol in my blood stream. I must solve my drunk problem first and then try to get off Tramadol. Not likely but I will try.
  • Gomer
    Can a person taking Tramadol make legal decisions? If not, how long should one be off the drug before making a legal decision? Does liver damage prolong the effect of Tramadol?