The Tramadol Half-Life

Tramadol is an opioid agonist commonly prescribed to treat patients with acute or chronic pain. Though seen as a relatively safe drug, tramadol has opioid qualities that can cause a high if abused. Tramadol has a moderate half-life, lasting up to six hours after one use for pain relief. Users will have to take multiple doses throughout the day to maintain the effect, putting them at risk of developing a dependence and addiction.

The Tramadol half-life
Tramadol, also known as the brand-name Ultram, is a medically prescribed drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. Tramadol is an opioid agonist, and it alters how the brain perceives pain. Though it is a relatively safe drug for users, when abused tramadol can induce a state of euphoria also known as a high.

Tramadol can be injected intravenously and intramuscularly, however it is most commonly prescribed as a tablet. The opioid drug is available in two different pill forms in various strengths:

  • 50mg and 100mg immediate release tablets
  • 100mg, 150mg, 200mg and 300mg extended-release tablets

Because it is frequently abused, tramadol is only available through prescription. However, having a prescription does not totally prevent a person from becoming dependent on the drug.  

Tramadol begins to activate in the body within an hour of use, and will hit its peak in the blood within an hour and a half. This opiate has a moderate half-life of six hours, meaning it takes six hours for half of the drug to clear the body.

The length of time tramadol relieves pain greatly depends on the dosage and type of prescription. Immediate-release tablets need to be taken every 4 – 6 hours to feel relief. However, extended-release tablets gradually release the drug throughout the day and should only be taken once daily. If the original tramadol form has been tampered with for abuse, effects will be immediate but will not last in the body long.

Tramadol is meant to be taken orally. If crushed and snorted, or injected without medical supervision, users are put at risk of overdose and addiction. Doctors recommend only taking tramadol as prescribed to avoid health concerns and danger.

Long-term tramadol use, even through prescription, can cause users to experience seizures, dependence and addiction. Quitting the drug cold turkey can also cause serious withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Disorientation

If you are worried your tramadol use has been causing health issues or has resulted in dependence, resources are available to you. Our medical experts at The Recovery Village will guide you through the best individualized treatment to suit your needs. With our support, you will gain the tools you need to help overcome your addiction. Don’t wait another day to begin your recovery journey.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.