What is the Half-Life of Tramadol?

Tramadol is a fast-acting narcotic medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. If you or a loved one are abusing this drug, reach out for help.

Tramadol is a fast-acting narcotic medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. This specific medication is very addictive and has a high propensity for abuse, which is why it will rarely be prescribed outside of a hospital setting. In some cases, Tramadol will be used to treat pain when other (weaker) pain medications fail to work. When an individual who has been using Tramadol for any time stops use suddenly, the medication will begin to leave the system. The process of elimination begins with the liver, producing metabolites that will then be excreted through the kidneys—this internal process results in severe physical discomfort.

What is the half-life of Tramadol, and what does the term “half-life” mean? A drug’s half-life alludes to the time it takes to eliminate half of the chemical substance. Tramadol has a half-life of between 5 and 6 hours. Once Tramadol begins to leave the system, it cannot be easily detected on normal drug tests. However, it can be identified on certain drug panels, and even simple urine tests can identify Tramadol in the system for up to 4 days. The half-life of a drug directly affects the length of time it can be identified in the system.

What is the Half-Life of Tramadol?

Tramadol Abuse and Addiction

If Tramadol is used as prescribed by a medical professional, it is generally safe. However, it can be habit-forming when used other than as prescribed. Tramadol abuse is fairly common throughout the United States. In 2017, it was reported that over 1.7 million Americans over the age of 12 had abused Tramadol within the past year. The high abuse rates are partly due to increased prescription rates – if a narcotic drug is frequently prescribed, it will be abused. In addition, individuals with personal histories of substance abuse – specifically opioid abuse – are more susceptible to Tramadol abuse. Some common symptoms of abuse include (but are not limited to):

  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Respiratory depression and dangerously slowed breathing
  • Severe drowsiness and “nodding off”
  • Disorientation and a lack of coordination
  • Skin that is clammy and cold to the touch
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Seizures
  • Coma

An overdose is one of the most serious and life-threatening symptoms of Tramadol abuse. Those who experience an overdose are very likely to slip out of consciousness and suffer extreme respiratory depression – leading to death – if they are not resuscitated.

The half-life of Tramadol will affect how soon the withdrawal symptoms begin to take hold. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms will become noticeable within 12 hours of the last use. These symptoms generally peak between one and three days. However, withdrawal symptoms may occur sooner if the abuse is severe or has been occurring for a significant amount of time.

These symptoms include nausea and vomiting, insomnia, flu-like symptoms including a runny nose, a low-grade fever, profuse sweating, muscle pain, and watery eyes, and psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression. Those experiencing Tramadol withdrawal symptoms must be admitted to a medical detox facility to ensure that symptoms resolve and do not continuously worsen.

Tramadol Addiction and Absolute Awakenings

At Absolute Awakenings, we focus on helping men and women who have suffered at the hands of Tramadol dependence go on to lead the clean, sober, and fulfilling lives they deserve. Because this specific medication is highly addictive, those in the throes of active addiction might feel as if there is no way out. However, we know that there IS a way out and that recovery is possible for everyone, no matter how severe the disease of addiction has become. To learn more about Tramadol addiction or Absolute Awakening’s recovery program, please give us a call today. We look forward to getting you started on the lifelong road to recovery.


  1. Dhesi M, Maldonado KA, Maani CV. Tramadol. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 18, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537060/
  2. Hallare J, Gerriets V. Half Life. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 18, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554498/
  3. McGuire J. Tramadol Seizures: Everything You Need to Know. WebMD. Accessed January 18, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/everything-you-need-to-know-about-tramadol-seizures
Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Infinite RecoveryAscendant NY, The Heights Treatment, New Waters RecoveryGallus DetoxRecovery UnpluggedOcean RecoveryRefresh Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed January 18, 2023