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How Long Does Tapentadol Stay in Your System?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Nov 17, 2023 • 6 cited sources

On average tapentadol stays in your system for approximately 20 hours.[1]

The half-life of orally ingested tapentadol is approximately four hours, but when administered intravenously, the half-life shortens to two to three hours. 

On an average urine drug test, tapentadol can be detected for two to four days. 

Duration of Tapentadol’s Effects

Tapentadol, a potent opioid analgesic, is prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. But its presence lingers in the body long after its effects have worn off. 

With oral ingestion, the effects of tapentadol begin within 30 minutes to an hour and last for about four to six hours. For the extended-release version, effects begin within one to two hours and can last up to 12 hours.[2,3]

When tapentadol is snorted or injected, the onset of effect may be more rapid. However, in most cases, the effects last as long as if the drug were orally ingested. 

These time frames are general guidelines. Individual responses may vary due to factors such as metabolism, dosage, duration of use and overall health.

Tapentadol’s Half-Life 

Tapentadol’s half-life is the amount of time that it takes for half of the drug to be processed out of the body. By the time the effects of tapentadol are no longer felt, it is likely that about half the dose is out of the system. 

Tapentadol’s half-life varies depending on the type of medication:[4]

  • Immediate-release (IR) formulation oral ingestion: Tapentadol’s half-life after oral ingestion of the immediate-release version of the drug ranges from three to four hours.
  • Extended-release (ER) oral ingestion: Tapentadol in its extended-release formulation has a lengthier half-life of four to six hours.

For immediate-release formulations, doses are typically taken every four to six hours. Extended-release versions require less frequent administration, usually once every 12 hours.

How Long Can Tapentadol Be Detected on a Drug Test?  

Depending on the type of drug test used, tapentadol may be detected in the body for varying lengths of time. All these estimates can be impacted by individual factors, such as metabolism and dosage.[5] 

Urine Test

Tapentadol typically remains detectable in urine for about two to four days.

Saliva Test

The detection window for tapentadol in saliva is around one to two days.

Blood Test

Tapentadol can be detected in a blood sample for about 24 to 48 hours after the last dose.

Hair Test

Tapentadol’s presence can be detected in hair follicles for up to 90 days, providing a record of drug use over an extended period.

Factors That Impact Detectability

Several factors can influence the length of time tapentadol or any drug remains detectable in the body. These are the major factors:[6]

Dosage & Frequency of Use

The dosage and frequency of tapentadol use will affect how long it can be detected on drug tests. Higher doses or more frequent use can lead to drug accumulation, extending the detectability window, as the body takes longer to eliminate accumulated tapentadol. 

Additionally, elevated doses or frequent use may interfere with the body’s natural metabolic processes, slowing down the drug’s breakdown and elimination, further prolonging its detectability.


Metabolism is the body’s process of breaking down and eliminating substances, and it significantly impacts the detectability window for tapentadol. A faster metabolic rate means tapentadol is processed and cleared more quickly, leading to a shorter detectability window. A slower metabolism can mean that the drug is detectible for a longer period of time. 

Enzyme activity in the liver, influenced by genetics, lifestyle and medications, can affect tapentadol metabolism. 

Individual Physiology

Some biological characteristics play a significant role in determining how long tapentadol remains detectable in the body. Enzyme activity, organ function, body composition and hydration levels contribute to each person’s specific detectability duration. Variances in metabolic rate, enzyme activity and organ function influence the speed at which tapentadol is metabolized and eliminated. 

Drug Interactions

Interactions between tapentadol and other substances can alter tapentadol’s metabolism, clearance rate and pharmacokinetics. Some medications may slow down or speed up tapentadol metabolism, while others can affect its clearance. Drug interactions can also lead to synergistic effects, potentially influencing tapentadol’s detectability as well. 

How Does the Body Metabolize Tapentadol?

Tapentadol begins the metabolic breakdown process almost as soon as it enters the body. There are a number of steps involved in that process.[3]

The Role of the Liver

After being absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream, tapentadol travels to the liver, where it encounters a team of enzymes. These enzymes, like CYP2C9 and CYP2C19, transform tapentadol into different metabolites, notably N-desmethyl tapentadol (M1) and hydroxy tapentadol (M3).

Metabolic Action

These metabolites, particularly M1, contribute to the pain-relieving effects of tapentadol. M1 has a stronger affinity for opioid receptors in the central nervous system, providing additional relief from pain.

Exit Strategy

Once tapentadol and its metabolites have completed their function, they are eliminated from the body through the kidneys. The drug is primarily eliminated through urine, while a smaller portion exits through feces.

This process continues until the drug is fully processed out of the system, and the drug is no longer detectable in blood, urine or saliva. 

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Singh DR, Nag K, Shetti AN, Krishnaveni N. Tapentadol hydrochloride: A novel analgesic. Saudi J Anaesth. 2013;7(3):322-326. doi:10.4103/1658-354X.115319
  2. Tapentadol. National Library of Medicine. Published May 2023. Accessed September 22, 2023.
  3. Alshehri FS. Tapentadol: A review of experimental pharmacology studies, clinical trials, and recent findings. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2023;17:851-861. Published 2023 Mar 21. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S402362
  4. Fidman B, Nogid A. Role of Tapentadol immediate release (Nucynta) in the management of moderate-to-severe pain. P T. 2010;35(6):330-357
  5. Tang S, Mullins ME, Braun BM, et al. Can tapentadol cause a false-positive urine drug screen result for amphetamine?. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2012;50(10):1174-1175. doi:10.3109/15563650.2012.735367
  6. Drewes AM, Jensen RD, Nielsen LM, et al. Differences between opioids: pharmacological, experimental, clinical and economical perspectives. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013;75(1):60-78. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04317.x

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