Although tramadol is not detected on all standard drug tests, it can be identified on some specialized screening panels. Urine, saliva, blood, and hair tests are the most common forms of drug screens.
Tramadol has a half-life of 6 to 6.5 hours, and it can take an average of 36 hours for the drug to be cleared from the body. The term “half-life” refers to the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from a person’s system.
The following are the detection windows for the various drugs screens that can identify the presence of tramadol:
Saliva – up to 24 hours
Blood – up to 24 hours
Urine – between 2-40 hours
Hair – up to 90 days
Testing for Tramadol
As noted, tramadol will probably not be detected on a typical drug screen, but it will show up on more advanced testing if the goal is to test for prescription and illicit drugs.
Urine Tests – During a urinalysis, a sample is collected from an individual, which is then sent to a lab to be screened for the presence of drug metabolites. Tramadol use is detectable within 1.5 hours following use and can remain so for as long as 40 hours. However, several factors will influence the length of time it takes for a person’s body to break down a drug and purge it from the system.
Hair Tests – When a hair is used, follicles are collected from an individual and sent to a lab for screening. This method can accurately identify the presence of tramadol and other drugs for an extended period (90 days), and because of this it is commonly used.
Saliva Tests – During a saliva test, a sample is taken from a person’s mouth and then tested for drugs such as tramadol and its metabolites. Saliva tests do not provide as long of a detection window, and it cannot typically be found after one day.
Blood Tests – Blood tests aren’t as common as other methods because they are quite invasive, and tramadol isn’t detectable in the blood for very long. Like saliva tests, the drug’s presence will probably not show up on a test after 24 hours has passed since the last dose. It is important to note, however, that each individual’s body will process drugs differently. Moreover, a substance that takes hours to be eliminated from one person’s system could take much longer for another.
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol (e.g., brand name Ultram) is a prescription drug prescribed to treat moderate-severe pain. It is often prescribed to a patient following injury or surgery, or, in some instances, extended-release tablets are used to alleviate chronic pain.
Tramadol is an opioid, a class of drugs that are indicated to reduce pain by binding to receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) and inhibiting serotonin and adrenaline reabsorption. When these receptors are activated, they help block pain sensations in the body.
Contributing Factors for Tramadol Detection
Both body fat and mass can play a role in how rapidly the body purges itself of a drug. Moreover, the greater an individual’s body mass, the faster the drug will be eliminated from the system. Those persons with a higher body fat percentage will retain more tramadol over time since the drug attaches to fat and tends to accumulate with use. Conversely, a person with less body fat has less space for tramadol to attach, meaning the body can rapidly expel the drug.
Presence of Food and Water
If tramadol is taken around the same time that food is eaten, the body’s absorption rate may be affected. Because the body is also working to break down food, it does not metabolize the drug at the same rate at which it might otherwise be able. Conversely, fluids are thought to increase the purging of a drug from the body because fluids increase urine output.
The half-life of tramadol is believed to be longer for older persons than for those who are younger. Elderly individuals may have comparatively reduced blood flow and be on other medications that can decrease the rate in which tramadol is metabolized.
Body Organ Functioning
Before tramadol is eliminated from the body, it is broken down by liver enzymes and processed by the kidneys. If either the liver or kidneys or liver are not functioning efficiently, tramadol may take a prolonged period to be metabolized by the body than it otherwise would be if organs were working properly.
Basal metabolic rate is the rate in which the body uses energy while it is at rest, and it can affect how long tramadol stays in a person’s system. Those with a higher basal metabolic rate are burning more energy while their body is resting, which helps in the metabolization and elimination of a drug from the body. What’s more, a high basal metabolic rate is often associated with a lower amount of body fat, which means there is less space for tramadol to attach itself and accumulate in the person’s body.
Dosage of Medication
The amount of tramadol a person is using on a regular basis can significantly affect how long the drug will remain in their system. Moreover, someone using a high dosage of tramadol will take longer to metabolize the drug than a person who is typically taking a smaller dose. Again, a higher dose of tramadol increases the amount of the drug available in the body that can attach to fat cells and remain in the body over time.
The Form of the Medication and Time Taking It
Tramadol can be found in both immediate- and extended-release formulations. Whereas the immediate-release version administers the full amount of the drug into the body and acts rapidly, the extended-release form is active for up to 24 hours and delivers the medication gradually over time. A person who uses the extended-release form of the medication will take longer to expel it from the system because it is being released over an extended period.
Also, an individual who has been using the medication for a relatively short period will be able to purge their body of it more rapidly than a person who has been using it for a long time. This disparity occurs because the drug will have had less time to build up in the system of a shorter-term user.
Getting Help for Addiction
Addiction is a chronic, potentially lifelong disease that impacts many aspects of a person’s emotional and physical well-being. A comprehensive, evidence-based approach to treatment is usually necessary to address it effectively.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer detox services as well as treatment programs that feature clinically-proven therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, peer support groups, substance abuse education, mindfulness therapy, aftercare planning, and much more.
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We can help you reclaim your sanity, free from the use of drugs and alcohol, and begin forging a path to long-lasting abstinence and wellness. We urge you to contact us as soon as possible to find out how we help people break free from the chains of addiction once and for all!