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How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Jan 11, 2024 • 7 cited sources

Tramadol stays active in your body only for a few hours. However, its metabolites will stay in your body for about two to three days. 

If you’ve taken tramadol and have a drug screening coming up, know that you could test positive for hours, days or even a week, depending on the testing method used.

How Long Does Tramadol Last?

Tramadol is a prescription painkiller. While tramadol is an opioid like morphine, it’s among the weakest in its class. Different people metabolize tramadol differently, and therefore each individual may get more or less analgesia or pain control than other people. 

Tramadol may make users feel:[1]

  • Calm 
  • Relaxed 
  • Drowsy 
  • Soothed 
  • Comfortable 

People using tramadol by prescription can take it just as needed for pain as frequently as every four to six hours.[2] 

Tramadol is a controversial drug among prescribers because people metabolize it very differently. Some people get a lot of pain relief, while others get very little. Because of this unpredictability, it should be started slowly and cautiously.

How Long Will Tramadol Appear in a Drug Test?

Usually the metabolites of tramadol can be detected up to a few days after use.  In general, if you’ve been using tramadol within the last few days, your test may appear positive for opioids. 

Factors that Influence How Long Tramadol Stays in Your System

What Factors Influence How Long Tramadol Stays in Your System?

It depends on the individual. Some people need more time to process a dose, and others need less. Your dose is the most important factor in how long tramadol stays in your system. The more you take, the longer it will take for your body to remove it.[5]

Other factors that  influence how long a drug stays in your system include the following:[7]

  • Age: Older people often need longer to process drugs than younger people
  • Liver and Kidney Health: The two drugs responsible for metabolizing drugs are your liver and kidneys. If either your liver or kidneys aren’t working well, you may need longer to process certain drugs. 
  • Other medications or drugs: If you use other drugs or medications with tramadol, the tramadol may be metabolized either more slowly or quickly 
  • Habits: If you’ve used tramadol for long periods, it’s more likely to build up and persist in your system. 

If you are taking tramadol with a prescription from a doctor and are concerned about it causing a positive drug test, ask your doctor about next steps. 

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. Tramadol. Frank. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  2. Tramadol. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published May 15, 2023. Accessed August 7, 2023. 
  3. Subedi M, Bajaj S, Kumar M, YC M. An overview of tramadol and its usage in pain management and future perspective. Biomedicine and pharmacotherapy. 2019;111:443-451. 
  4. Standridge J, Adams S, Zotos A. Urine drug screening: A valuable office procedure. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(5):635-640. 
  5. Khosrojerdi H, Alipour Talesh G, Danaei GH, Shokooh Saremi S, Adab A, Afshari R. Tramadol half life is dose dependent in overdose. Daru. 2015;23(1):22. Published 2015 Feb 26. doi:10.1186/s40199-015-0104-y 
  6. Harper, L., Powell, J. & Pijl, E.M. An overview of forensic drug testing methods and their suitability for harm reduction point-of-care services. Harm Reduct J 14, 52 (2017).
  7. Susa ST, Hussain A, Preuss CV. Drug metabolism. StatPearls. Published August 2023. Accessed August 7, 2023.

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