Tramadol, or Ultram, stays in your system anywhere from 12 hours to 4 days with basic drug tests. Additionally, it has a half-life of six hours. In this context, the term “half-life” refers to the amount of time it takes the body to break down half the amount of the drug in your system.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a unique drug. It is an opioid painkiller that is used to treat moderate pain. It is chemically related to prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin, but it has a slightly different chemical structure. As a result, it is usually considered to be less addictive and habit forming.

What Are the Side Effects of Tramadol?

Being an opioid, Tramadol can have side effects that are common within the opioid family of medications. These include:

  • Upset stomach, including nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Excessive drowsiness or fatigue
  • Moderate constipation, especially amongst elderly users
  • Headache, itching, or dry mouth

Finally, it also causes mild to moderate intoxication. In fact, this euphoria feels similar to other, more powerful prescription painkillers. This is why the drug can be habit forming and addictive.

What Factors Influence How Long It Can Be Detected?

The detection window is the amount of time that a drug test can detect a certain drug. The clearance rate is how quickly the body breaks a certain drug down. In other words, the lower the half-life, the shorter the detection window and the higher the clearance rate.

In addition to half-life, there are other factors that can influence this detection window:

  • Your size and body mass
  • If you have kidney or liver disease
  • The pH levels in your urine
  • How long you’ve been using the drug
  • Whether you are dehydrated
  • Your level of physical fitness and overall health

Finally, about 7% of the population have reduced levels of an important enzyme that breaks tramadol down. Amongst these users, the detection window is much longer.

Does Tramadol Show Up On Drug Tests?

A drug test can also be referred to as a lab test, drug screen, or a panel drug test. Furthermore, there are four basic kinds:

  1. Urine
  2. Blood
  3. Hair
  4. Saliva

That being said, tramadol does not automatically show up on any of these tests. In other words, it is not immediately detectable like other opioid painkillers. In fact, the tester would have to be looking for the drug specifically in order to detect it via any one of the four types of drug tests.

It can, however, cause false positives on standard drug tests. This is most usually for PCP or buprenorphine, so it’s crucial that the user let the tester know beforehand if they are taking tramadol.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Urine?

This is the most common type of drug test. This is because it is relatively inexpensive and easy to administer. In fact, most pharmacies sell urine testing kits that you can use at home.

That being said, the tramadol detection window in urine is between 2 hours and 4 days.

If the user takes the drug regularly or in high doses, then the detection window will be longer.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In the Blood?

This is the second most common type of drug test. However, unlike urine tests, it cannot be administered at home. It has to be done by a medical professional in a clinical setting.

Tramadol can be detected in the blood for approximately 12 to 24 hours. This is considerably shorter than the detection window in urine.

Blood tests can also detect the drug most quickly after it’s been used. Essentially, the minute the user feels the effects of the drug, then it becomes detectable in the blood.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In the Hair?

Also known as a hair follicle test, this drug test is fairly rare. However, it is unique in that it has the longest detection window by far.

Tramadol can be detected in hair anywhere between 4 and 6 months.

How Long Does Tramadol Stay In Saliva?

This is the rarest drug test. It is only used in very specific instances because it is not easy to administer and is quite expensive.

Ultimately, tramadol is detectable in saliva from 24 to 48 hours.

Is Tramadol Addictive?

Yes, tramadol is addictive. Tramadol is designated as a Schedule IV drug by the DEA. While this does mean that it has a lower potential for abuse and addiction, it may still be habit forming.

It’s also important to note that it’s possible to overdose on tramadol. The symptoms of overdose include slowed heartbeat, respiratory depression (difficulty breathing), and total loss of consciousness.

Because of the difficulty breathing, an overdose may deprive the brain of oxygen. This can lead to a coma and even irreversible brain damage. Tramadol becomes even more dangerous when it’s combined with alcohol or other drugs like sedatives. This increases the risk of overdosing.

How To Find Help for Tramadol Addiction

It’s possible to develop both a psychological addiction and a physical dependence on the drug. That means that the user will have cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms. These are similar to other narcotic painkillers and include:

  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Severe anxiety/depression
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach

In the event of physical dependence, it may be necessary for the user to undergo “detox”. This is when they are weaned off the drug in a controlled, clinical setting.

Once the detox is complete, then the user should enter a rehab. This can be an outpatient program or an inpatient/residential facility. Either way, addiction is best treated under the supervision of professionals.

So if you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, search through our database to find a quality treatment center near you. Through professional help by a quality treatment program, you can beat your tramadol addiction.


  1. Opioid Metabolites.
  2. Identification of Tramadol and its Metabolites in Blood.
  3. Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.
  4. Tramadol: Update Review Report. 
  5. Tramadol Overdose: A Case Report.

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