How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

Quick Overview

Tramadol has a half-life of 6.3 hours; however, it can take about a day and a half for the drug to completely exit your body.

Tramadol can be detected in the urine, hair, saliva, and blood:

  • In urine, tramadol can be detected within 2 hours and can be detected for up to 40 hours.
  • In hair, tramadol can be detected for up to 90 days.
  • In saliva, tramadol can be detected for up to 24 hours.
  • In blood, tramadol can be detected for up to 24 hours.

The amount of time it takes for Tramadol to exit your body can depend on multiple factors.


Green and yellow Tramadol pills spread out on a counter.
In 2012, it was estimated that approximately 2.1 million people in the United States suffered from substance misuse related to prescription pain pills, known as opioids. One such prescription pill is tramadol, a medication that can be detected in the body through a number of testing methods. In order to understand how this testing works, it is important to understand what tramadol is and how it affects the body.
Tramadol is a prescription medication used to bring relief for moderate or severe pain. It is also known as ConZip, FusePaq Synapryn, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt, Ultram and Ultram ER. It is often prescribed for a patient after surgery, or in some cases extended-release tablets are prescribed for chronic pain.
Tramadol falls into a group of medications called opioid analgesics, which relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. More specifically, tramadol inhibits serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake while also activating opiate receptors in the central nervous system.  When these receptors are stimulated, they reduce the sensation of pain in the body.
How long tramadol will stay in the body has to do with the medication’s elimination half-life, which is the average amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be cleared from the body. For tramadol, this is believed to be 6.3 hours. Upon stopping tramadol completely, it is likely to stay in the body for 1.44 days. However, this varies depending on the individual and numerous factors.
Both body mass and body fat play a role in how quickly the body rids itself of a drug. Typically, the greater a person’s body mass, the quicker the drug will be out of the system. Body fat percentage is also a factor in how quickly the body can flush out a drug. Those who have a higher body fat percentage may gather more tramadol over their time using the drug, since tramadol is known to bind to fat and can build up over time. On the flip side, someone with less body fat has less space for tramadol to bind, meaning the body can rid itself of it more quickly.
If tramadol is taken at the same time as food, the body’s absorption rate can be affected. Since the body is also working to break down food, it does not break down the medication at the same rate that it otherwise might. On the other hand, fluids are thought to increase the clearance of a drug from the body since fluids increase urinary flow.
The half-life of tramadol is believed to increase in older patients as compared to younger ones. Elderly patients can have worse blood flow and may be on additional medications that can interfere with the rate at which tramadol is metabolized.
Before tramadol leaves the body, it is metabolized by enzymes in the liver and processed through the kidneys. If either the liver or the kidneys are not functioning correctly, tramadol and its metabolites may take longer to be broken down by the body than they would with the correct liver and kidney function.
An individual’s basal metabolic rate – the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest – can affect how long tramadol remains in the system. A person with a higher basal metabolic rate is burning more energy while their body is at rest which helps in metabolizing and ridding the body of a drug. Another reason those with higher basal metabolic rates may be able to rid the body of tramadol faster is that a high basal metabolic rate usually indicates a lower amount of body fat, leaving less space for tramadol to bind to fat and remain in the body.
The amount of tramadol a person is taking can greatly affect how long the medication will remain in their body. Someone taking a high dosage of the drug will take longer to metabolize the drug than a person who is taking a smaller dose. A higher dose also increases the amount of tramadol that is likely to bind to fat and remain in the body over time.
Tramadol comes in two forms – an immediate release, which releases the full amount in the body and acts quickly, or an extended-release, which works over 24 hours and releases the medication a little bit at a time. Someone who is taking the extended-release type of medication will take longer to clear it from the system since it is being released over a longer period of time. Additionally, someone who has only been on the medication a short amount of time will be able to rid the body of it more quickly than someone who has been taking it for a long period of time. This is because the drug will have had less time to build up in the body.
Certain drugs can affect the rate at which the body metabolizes tramadol, which is why it’s important to do research and be informed if using numerous medications at one time.
Tramadol will not be detected on a typical drug screening, known as a SAMHSA-5 panel. It will, however, show up on more advanced testing if someone decides to test for prescription drugs. Such advanced tests include urine tests, hair tests, saliva tests and blood tests.
As with other types of drug testing using urine, a urine test involves collecting a urine sample from an individual. Once collected, the urine will be sent to a lab to be tested for tramadol, but more specifically for its metabolites, which is the substance created when the body breaks down a drug. Typically, tramadol use is detectable within two hours of use and can remain detectable for up to 40 hours. However, this is just a rough estimate, as various factors affect how long an individual’s body takes to break down a drug and rid itself of it.
When a hair test is administered, hair follicles are collected from an individual’s head and are sent to a lab for testing. Hair testing is a very accurate method of detecting tramadol and its metabolites, and for this reason it is often utilized. It is also a testing method that can detect tramadol use long after it occurs, sometimes for months afterwards.
With saliva testing, a saliva sample is taken from the mouth of an individual and then screened for tramadol and its metabolites. Saliva tests do not offer as long of a time period for detection of tramadol use, as it often is not detectable for more than one day.
Blood tests aren’t often utilized since they are invasive and tramadol use isn’t detectable in the blood for a long period of time. Like saliva tests, it likely will not show up on a test if more than 24 hours have passed since the drug was used. Though this information is a good starting point, it is important to remember that every individual’s body will process drugs in a different way. What may take hours to clear one person’s system could take days for another person, which is why it’s important to take additional factors into consideration when it comes to determining how long a drug will take to clear the body.
America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed 7 March 2017. https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse Tramadol. MedLine Plus. Accessed 7 March 2017. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695011.html Tramadol. PubChem Open Chemistry Database. Accessed 7 March 2017. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Tramadol#section=Drug-and-Medication-Information Ultram (tramadol hydrochloride) Tablets. US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed 7 March 2017. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020281s032s033lbl.pdf

Infographic: How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System
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How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System was last modified: September 12th, 2018 by The Recovery Village

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