Tramadol is detectable in your saliva for up to 48 hours. A blood test can detect tramadol for 12 to 24 hours, while a urine test will detect it one to four days after you last took the medication. A hair test, however, can detect it the longest as tramadol remains in your hair for four to six months.
As a medication that relieves pain around the clock, people experiencing moderate to moderately severe pain receive prescriptions for tramadol. Tramadol is like many other opioid pain killers because it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and the spinal cord, as well as other parts of the body.
After tramadol binds to a subset of the opioid receptors, it means that fewer signals will be sent out into the body, as well as an increase in the release of dopamine. This pattern follows the reward and pleasure pattern that leads people to take more tramadol.
Tramadol is also a monoamine reuptake inhibitor. This means that the medication prevents the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine into the nerve’s terminals. The inhibition is what makes tramadol a highly effective pain killer.
When people take the immediate-release tramadol medication, they experience the effects for four to six hours. Those taking the extended-release version will experience effects for 12 to 24 hours.
If people are using tramadol as their doctors prescribe, it is a safe way to relieve their moderate to moderately severe pain. Some people take tramadol recreationally, and this can lead to dependence or addiction.
The side effects of taking tramadol include:
- Skin flushing
How Long Does Tramadol Stay in Your System?
When the liver starts to metabolize tramadol, it creates at least 23 metabolites. The kidneys secrete the main metabolites of O-desmethyl-tramadol and N-desmethyl-tramadol. The O-desmethyl-tramadol has a half-life of eight hours, so a person’s system needs eight hours to eliminate half of the O-desmethyl-tramadol, and it needs five to six hours to eliminate half of the tramadol.
Which Tests Can Detect Tramadol?
All standard drug tests do not detect tramadol, but an advanced drug test may be able to do so. The tests that you are likely to encounter for drug testing are tests of urine, hair, saliva, and blood.
A urine test will detect tramadol one to four hours after you take your last dose.
Tests of hair are the most reliable. Tramadol can be detected for four to six months, but according to one study, a hair test detected tramadol seven months after the last use.
In order for a saliva test to detect tramadol, the person would have to have ingested the drug before 48 hours have passed since the last dose was taken.
Blood tests will detect tramadol if the person used the substance 12 to 24 hours before.
In addition to the number of hours since the last dose of tramadol was taken, it is also important to consider the person’s weight, age, metabolism, and hydration because these will all contribute to the test’s results. How long the person has been taking tramadol and how much tramadol the person took will also play a role in whether or not tramadol can be detected by the above tests.
Do People Misuse Tramadol?
According to the World Health Organization, orally administered tramadol produces opioid-like effects in humans, but it isn’t likely that people will become dependent on tramadol. Therefore, tramadol is considered to be a drug with a low potential of causing dependence. However, if people use tramadol on a daily basis for several weeks or months, they can develop a dependence on the drug.
The likelihood of tramadol dependence increases if the person has a history of substance use disorder. However, dependence can develop even if people do not have substance misuse in their pasts.
Tramadol also has a low potential to cause people to abuse the substance. Tramadol produces opiate effects, but they weren’t strong enough to cause people to abuse it. Scientists discovered that 97% of those abusing tramadol had a history of substance misuse.
When people obtain a prescription from their doctors and take it in the manner that their physicians prescribed it, tramadol is considered to be a safe drug.
Misuse of Tramadol
In 2008, 23.3 million people had prescriptions for tramadol, but this increased to 43.8 million in 2013. From 1995 to 2010, tramadol abuse or misuse increased. As a result, the Drug Enforcement Agency announced that it would place tramadol in the Schedule IV category that is designated for drugs with the potential for abuse.
People addicted to narcotics, patients experiencing chronic pain, and those in the medical community are most likely to misuse and abuse tramadol. The National Survey of Drug Use and Health reported that 1.6 million people over the age of 11 misused tramadol in the past year. In 2017, 1.8 million people misused tramadol, but that number went down to 1.5 million in 2018.
When People Misuse Tramadol
Some people do begin to misuse tramadol in a manner that isn’t required to relieve their pain. Therefore, the federal government placed a black box warning on tramadol bottles, which is the agency’s strongest warning possible. According to the warning, tramadol represents a potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction. The people found to have the highest potential for the misuse of tramadol are those with an opiate use disorder, those with chronic pain, and members of the medical community.
The biggest risk that people take when they misuse tramadol is that they will overdose. If this occurs, they may experience the following symptoms:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Cold and clammy skin
- Slower breathing
- Cardiac arrest
- A slower heart rate
- Pinpoint pupils
Some people take more than one drug at a time when they are misusing their medications. If someone takes benzodiazepines that were prescribed for anxiety along with tramadol, there is a risk that they could cause a fatal overdose. That’s because benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and reduce the person’s breathing. When this occurs, it becomes a medical emergency, and 9-1-1 should be called.
If people stop taking tramadol, they will experience withdrawal symptoms 12 hours after they last ingested the drug. They are at their worst one to three days after the last dose was taken, but these symptoms will dissipate after that and last for about a week.
During that time, people typically experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Pain in the muscles
- A runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- The inability to sleep
It’s possible to detox on your own, but the best plan is to undergo this experience in a drug treatment program. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer our medical detox program where patients will be treated by our physicians and nurses throughout the entire process. You will receive medications that will relieve your withdrawal symptoms so that you can tolerate them without feeling the need to resort to using tramadol again. In the event that you begin to experience a medical emergency, our staff can address the issue right away.
The medications provided in our Medication Assisted Treatment Program will be those approved by the FDA. One is methadone, and the other is buprenorphine. These medications successfully reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, as well as the cravings associated with tramadol.
The Possibility of Psychosis
Withdrawal symptoms can be hard to endure, but there is another important reason that you will not want to allow yourself to go through the withdrawal process on your own. Psychosis is one of tramadol’s atypical withdrawal symptoms that appears with the withdrawal symptoms listed above. This symptom subsides along with the other withdrawal symptoms, but it may be a particularly disturbing symptom.
Atypical symptoms of tramadol withdrawal also include the following:
- Paranoid thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Severe anxiety
Treating a Tramadol Addiction
It is not enough for you to go through the detoxification process as detoxification is not a treatment for a substance use disorder. The detoxification process is essential because you need to be relieved of your physical addiction to the drug, but this will not prevent you from taking the drug again in the future.
Treatment for substance use disorders includes several types of therapy and medication in some cases. The types of therapy that you will be introduced to in a treatment center include the following:
This therapy focuses on the things that cause you to seek your drug of choice. You will learn what motivates you to take tramadol illegally and how you can avoid this. You also learn other behaviors that help you respond to your triggers in a way other than accepting the invitation to use drugs.
We invite your family members to join you in family therapy. This is where everyone learns the patterns that cause members to take drugs. It also improves the functioning of the family so that it can no longer be described as dysfunctional.
Motivational interviewing takes place between several people with the intent of obtaining the desired outcome. It is a strategy used to convince people that they need to enter a drug treatment facility.
Contingency management rewards you when you exhibit behaviors that maintain your sobriety.
In addition to the therapies listed above, your physician may continue to prescribe methadone and buprenorphine beyond your time in detox. This ensures that your withdrawal symptoms remain at bay and that you don’t experience strong cravings. This allows you to focus on your therapy and recovering from your dependence or addiction.
Medical personnel found that substance use disorders often co-occur with mental health disorders. For example, those experiencing a substance use disorder also experience mood disorders at a rate of 26%. They also experience anxiety disorders at a rate of 28%. For this reason, it is important for the treatment facility that you enter to have the capability to treat both mental health disorders and substance use disorders.
At Granite Recovery Centers, our physicians can diagnose your mental health disorder if you have one and treat it along with your substance use disorder. This gives you the best chance of recovering from your substance use disorder; when a mental health disorder is not being treated at the same time as the substance use disorder, the two disorders can interfere with each other and prevent either from improving.
If you or a loved one are ready to address your addiction to tramadol or other substances, call us at the Granite Recovery Centers today.