Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

Key Takeaways

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is the generic name for Ultam or Conzip. It’s typically used as moderate to severe or chronic pain medication.1

Tramadol works by binding to the opioid receptors in your brain. These receptors are located throughout the central nervous system (CNS). It also weakly reduces the reuptake of two neurotransmitters: serotonin and norepinephrine.1

The drug is considered safe because it has a low potential for addiction and abuse. However,  addiction is still possible. Tramadol can also pose several health complications for acute and chronic users.5


Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

How Long Does It Take to Feel the Effects of Tramadol?

The pain relief effects start approximately an hour following a dose and peak in 2 to 4 hours.1 On the other hand, tramadol’s extended-release tablets distribute dosages in phases over a more extended period. This means a single extended-release tablet can stay in your body longer.1

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

What are the Side Effects of Tramadol?

Tramadol's side effects can vary based on overall health and body composition. Tramadol can produce a high when taken in excess.5

However, as an opioid, Tramadol disrupts certain brain functions and strains your organs. The most common side effects of Tramadol use include:5

  • Flushing
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Constricted pupils
  • Dizziness or faintness when getting up
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy 
  • Heart issues
  • In rare cases, hallucinations, anxiety, and shakiness

Can Tramadol Cause Long-Term Damage?

Just like other prescription pain medications, Tramadol drug use can cause long-term damage, especially in cases of substance abuse. Possible long-term effects include:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Substance dependency
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin syndrome which can lead to anxiety and heart rate issues

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

The half-life of Tramadol in moderate drug use is 5 to 9 hours. However, the amount you take can increase the drug’s half-life.1

Overall, Tramadol can stay in your system for a long time. The detection timeframe depends on the drug tests.3

These drug tests include:

Urine Drug Test

Urine tests can detect the presence of Tramadol in your system. Tramadol stays in the urine for 1 to 4 days (24 to 72 hours) after the last dose.3

Hair Drug Test

A hair test can detect Tramadol in hair follicles for up to 90 days. Hair tests are generally used to support urine test findings. Hair tests also increase the detection window as most drugs are flushed out of the system within a few days to a week.3

Saliva Drug Test

Saliva tests for Tramadol can detect the drug anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after the last dose. Saliva drug screens are rare due to the short window of detection.3 

Blood Drug Test

Blood tests, except to test for alcohol, are expensive and only detect recent use. It’s unlikely that a person will receive a blood test for Tramadol. Blood tests can detect Tramadol in your body for up to 48 hours.3

6 Factors That Affect Detection Time

Your body may take longer to break down Tramadol than others. This is because different factors affect Tramadol’s detection time.

These factors include:3

1. Age

Older people metabolize more slowly. They are also more likely to take additional medications that affect metabolism and are at higher risk for impaired kidney or liver function. These factors may all affect Tramadol’s detection time.

2. Dosage

Higher doses of Tramadol take longer to metabolize. The excess amount of the medication will stay in your system longer.

3. Frequency of Use

If you frequently use Tramadol, it’ll stay in your body longer. If the previous doses haven’t broken down, your body will likely take longer to metabolize the extra quantities.

4. Metabolism

A slower metabolic rate heightens the time it takes tramadol to break down. Your metabolism can vary depending on: 

  • Activity level
  • Body composition
  • Physical health
  • Diet

5. Reduced Kidney or Liver Function

If your kidney or liver is impaired or damaged, it can increase the duration of Tramadol’s detection time. This is because your body can’t filter or metabolize the medication properly.

6. Route of Drug Administration

Generally, tramadol injections or drops are quickly absorbed and excreted faster. On the other hand, the pill form can stay in your body longer.

How to Flush Tramadol Out of Your System

There is no way to flush Tramadol out of your system outside of medical detox. The best thing you can do is wait it out. However, you can prevent Tramadol from being in your system by not taking it.

Tramadol is eliminated through metabolism by the liver, creating metabolites. The kidneys then excrete the metabolites, accounting for 90% of the excretion.8

The remaining 10% is excreted through feces. Approximately 30% of the dose is excreted in the urine.8

Symptoms of Tramadol Overdose

Taking excessive amounts of the drug can lead to severe Tramadol overdose. This can be difficult to reverse even with multiple doses of Narcan.

Here are some signs and symptoms of an overdose:4,5

  • Breathing problems (slow, erratic, shallow, or stopped)
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Cyanotic (bluish) lips and fingernails
  • Gurgling, snore-like noises, or choking sounds
  • Muscle weakness
  • Non-responsiveness to any form of stimuli
  • Pupillary constriction
  • Slow, erratic, or undetectable pulse or heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

To prevent an overdose, follow the correct dosage as your healthcare provider prescribes. If you or someone you know needs addiction treatment, seek help to get professional medical advice.

Treatment Options for Tramadol Addiction

In many cases, addiction and behavioral therapies are needed to assist in recovery. However, people respond to treatment differently. 

Talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist about available treatment programs. They’ll be able to help you find the right program that caters to your needs.

Available treatment options for Tramadol addiction include:


Tramadol is the generic name for Ultam or Conzip. It is an opioid used to treat acute and sometimes chronic pain conditions.

The half-life of Tramadol is 5 to 9 hours. However, drug tests can detect Tramadol in your body for 90 days.

Although Tramadol has a low potential for abuse, it can still happen. If you or someone you know is addicted to Tramadol, seek professional help.

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on February 6, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Dhesi et al. “Tramadol.” Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2022.
  2. El Sayed et al. “Development and Validation of High-Performance Liquid Chromatography–Diode Array Detector Method for the Determination of Tramadol in Human Saliva.” Sohag University, 2011.
  3. Hadland, S. “OBJECTIVE TESTING – URINE AND OTHER DRUG TESTS.” PubMed Central, 2016
  4. Dadpour et al. “Arterial Blood Gas Analysis of Patients with Tramadol-Induced Seizure; a Cross Sectional Study.” Archives of Academic Emergency Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, 2020
  5. Beakley et al. “Tramadol, Pharmacology, Side Effects, and Serotonin Syndrome: A Review.” Pain Physician, 2015.
  6. Subedi et al. “An overview of tramadol and its usage in pain management and future perspective.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy, Biomed Pharmacother, 2019.
  7. Schug, S. “The role of tramadol in current treatment strategies for musculoskeletal pain.” Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 2007.
  8. “Tramadol.” Drugbank.com

Related Pages