Tramadol is a prescription opiate analgesic that many people rely on for a multitude of medical procedures. However, because of its potent properties, signs of its use can continue to stay in one’s body even long after the direct effects of the drugs have worn off.
What Is Tramadol Used For?
Tramadol is a prescription drug that is primarily used for acute moderate to severe pain. This is most commonly prescribed for pain following surgical procedures, but can also be provided for other severe pain levels for limited times while the body is given a chance to heal.
However, Tramadol can be prescribed to address chronic pains as well, depending on the individual. While this kind of prescription is less common, it is still possible and more likely to be found in unique circumstances, such as pains while also battling cancer. However, despite its use in managing pain, it is still highly addictive even while being used under a proper prescription.
How Does It Work?
Like most pain medications, Tramadol works by attaching itself to various brain receptors in order to block the pain signals from the nervous system while increasing serotonin levels. This results in a more relaxed state and helps alleviate one’s perception of pain.
However, it works by blocking the ability to recognize pain, not actually fixing the pain's cause. That is, just because one does not feel pain doesn’t mean that there isn’t still healing to be done. Because they are extremely effective opiate drugs, they can also be habit-forming - which is why they are very rarely prescribed long-term.
It is paramount that each individual constantly monitors their relationship with these prescription pain medications while under their effects to help prevent any developing addictions to these substances.
Different Forms and Strengths of Tramadol
Tramadol can remain in your system for varying lengths of time depending on a few factors, including the strength of the doses that an individual is taking. Tramadol can come in the form of tablets, capsules, drops, or injections, each of which can change how long it takes for it to wear off. These are fast-acting variants, which typically range from a dose of 50-100mg. However, slow-release capsules are also available for dealing with ongoing, chronic pains, with doses ranging from 100-300mg.
How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?
Tramadol is eliminated from your system within roughly 2 days of taking the drug, but this does not mean that it can no longer be detected by certain drug tests.
The half-life of tramadol is around 6-8 hours, meaning that 6-8 hours after taking the drug, the concentration of tramadol in your blood has been reduced by half.
Most drugs are eliminated from the body after four or five half-lives. For tramadol, this process could take somewhere between 20 to 40 hours — or a maximum of almost two days — at which point you will no longer feel the effects of the drug.Tramadol can reach its peak effectiveness within about two or three hours after administration to help cope with pain. However, Tramadol can remain in one’s system for long after these pain-relieving effects have worn off. A Tramadol half-life is about six to seven hours, meaning it takes about that long for half of the dose to dissipate.
This means that Tramadol can remain in one’s system for up to 72 hours. However, it can still be detectable for long after this time period, depending on the test administered to find traces of it. Blood, saliva, urine, and hair can all still retain traces of Tramadol for varying amounts of time.
Blood: Traces can remain for up to 35 hours
Saliva: Traces can remain for two days
Urine: Detectable for four days
Hair: Detectable for up to 30 days
These time frames will depend on each person and may have some variance. However, there isn’t a proven practice for how to get Tramadol out of your system fast, and it is important to be prepared for these timeframes, depending on the method of testing. Therefore, asking, “How long does Tramadol last?” can have a number of different answers depending on how long an individual will feel the effects of the drugs, as well as how long it stays in one’s body and testing method.
What Can Affect How Long Tramadol Stays in Your Body?
There are several variables for how long Tramadol will stay in the body. Some of the factors include:
Frequency of use
Overall health and organ function
Presence or use of other drugs or medications
Types of Testing for Tramadol
While tramadol is not detected on all standard drug tests, it can be detected on some advanced screening panels. Urine tests, hair tests, saliva tests, and blood tests are the most common forms of drug tests.
Urine tests can detect traces of tramadol from 1 to 4 days after last use.
Hair tests have a detection window of up to 4-6 months following last use. However, one study found traces of tramadol in a person’s hair at 7 months.
Saliva tests have a short detection window of up to 48 hours following last use.7
Blood tests can be used to detect tramadol, though they only provide a detection window of about 12–24 hours following last use.
Individual factors, such as age, weight, metabolism, and hydration all impact the results of a drug test. Additionally, the dose taken and the length of time taking tramadol will impact how long traces of the drug can be detected in the body.
Saliva and urine tests involve collecting a sample and testing on the sample in a designated laboratory, and hair tests involve testing the follicles of hair for incredibly accurate results. Each of these tests is conducted by searching for metabolites — the result the body creates from breaking down opiates — to determine if they have been used within a certain time frame. While it is also possible to test for the use of Tramadol via a blood test, this is much less common due to the invasive nature of drawing blood from a person.
How Do You Detox From Tramadol?
Detoxing from one’s Tramadol use can be a difficult process due to its nature as an addictive opiate. Detoxing from Tramadol first includes identifying when one’s use of the drug is going beyond the confines of the prescription, or if feelings of craving the drug or looking forward to the next dose become invasive or persistent thoughts.
Identifying these changing relationships with Tramadol can be indicative that it may be time to find a new way to help alleviate one’s pain. Discussing these issues with one’s doctor or medical facility can help better inform the next step.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with shorter-acting opioids typically reach the most intense point within 36 to 72 hours after the individual discontinues use or drastically reduces how much they take. Symptoms usually last for 5 to 8 days.
Not everyone’s withdrawal experience is the same so it’s difficult to pinpoint when symptoms may start, how long they will last, or the severity of them. Other factors that may influence an individual’s withdrawal include a history of substance misuse or addiction, a co-occurring mental health condition or the concurrent use of other substances.
Detoxing from Tramadol as a whole involves not just ceasing one’s use of the substance, but also preparing for the various side effects and withdrawal symptoms that may come after. Coupled with a degree of therapy to help mitigate urges, cravings, and other physical and emotional complications that come as a result of the cessation of any addictive substance, detox can be a difficult, but very possible process.
What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?
There are a number of side effects of Tramadol that any person using the drug should be aware of. While each individual may have their own experience with Tramadol, there are common symptoms that can be found across users of the drug. These symptoms include:
Identifying these side effects should be reported to one’s doctor or caretaker in order to effectively and safely address each of them.
How Is Tramadol Addiction Treated?
A Tramadol addiction is a serious issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent further dependence from developing.
Treatment first begins with a successful detox, removing all traces of the addictive substance from one’s body while providing support to help cope with any difficult withdrawal symptoms that may be present. This is coupled with education about how to cope with the cravings and urges that will be present throughout the lengthy recovery process, working to find both successful grounding strategies and coping strategies as well as effective cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches to help prevent relapse.
This is also best done within a dedicated recovery sphere while an individual learns their own best practices alongside like-minded individuals who may be undergoing their own recovery from addiction and chasing similar goals, creating a supportive and enriching environment.