Does Ultram show up on drug tests?

No, Ultram is usually not detected on standard drug tests that screen for a panel of only 3 or 5 drugs. But, Ultram (tramadol) WILL show up on toxicology screening for opioid prescription medications. More on Ultram drug tests, detection, and timeline here.

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Tricky question.

Answer: Yes and no. It depends on the type of drug test.

Ultram (main ingredient tramadol) does not show up on most standard drug screens, which usually include a panel of five (5) major drug classes. These urine-based tests are most frequently used when government agencies and private employers drug test employees for the presence of the following substances:

1. Amphetamines
2. Cannabinoids
3. Cocaine
4. Opiates
5. Phencyclidine (PCP)

However, Ultram (tramadol) WILL show up on toxicology screenings for specific opioid prescription medications. This is called an “extended” drug panel test.

Read more on the specifics of drug testing for Ultram, here. Additionally, if you have any questions, you are welcome to post them in the section below. We always try to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

Why order a drug test for Ultram?

Drug testing is a procedure which aims to determine the recent use of alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, and their metabolites. There are a few reasons to order a drug test for Ultram:

1. Medical – Your prescribing doctor may schedule a random drug test for Ultram every once in a while to monitor your adherence to therapy. Doctors can also drug test you if you are admitted to a hospital under the suspicion of drug overdose.

2. WorkUltram abuse affects employees’ health and safety. The misuse of Ultram might also be responsible for decreased productivity in the work place. Drug testing allows companies to early identify and refer employees with drug or alcohol problems to rehab.

If you are taking Ultram, it is important to know that drug testing laws are not the same for every State and profession. If you live in a State which gives employers the freedom to decide what they want to include in their drug test and they decide to test for Ultram, then it will be detected.

However, for employees in healthcare professions, the standard drug test includes numerous substances. This is because employees such as doctors and nurses have greater access to controlled drugs. Drug tests for people who work in healthcare include check for several additional drugs, such as:

3. School – High school administrators that suspect recent drug use may request (depending on the school district) random or “reasonable suspicion” drug tests to ensure that the school is drug-free. School counselors are also looking for signs of opioid addiction. Consequences of testing positive for an opioid like tramadol can lead to missed school or expulsion.

4. Legal reasons– If you’ve been in a situation before where you’ve abused Ultram by taking it other than prescribed, you may be required to do Ultram drug test due to legal implication.

5. Other Reasonable Suspicion (cause testing) – If you show signs and symptoms of Ultram abuse, or display patterns of abnormal behavior which raise suspicion, you may be subjected to “reasonable suspicion drug testing”.

Ultram detection

Q: Can Ultram show up on a pre-employment drug tests?
A: Not usually.

Ultram is usually not tested for on standard pre-employment drug tests. However, there are toxicology screenings that are specifically designed to test for the presence of prescription medications such as Ultram.

How long can Ultram be detected in drug tests?

Medical literature indicates that Ultram’s elimination half-life is around 6.3 hours. This means that it will be eliminated from your system in about 48 hours. However, its primary metabolite O-desmethyltramadol (M1) has a bit longer half-life of 7.4 hours and can be detected for almost 2 days. Toxicology screenings can detect Ultram and its metabolites for 2-4 days max after the last administration.

Ultram cutoff levels:

  • IN HAIR – Hair tests can detect Ultram even when it’s taken in very low levels. These levels are in the range of 0.07-0.80 ng/mg of hair, and usually appear when the drug is taken as prescribed by a doctor. For comparison, in cases of Ultram abuse, concentrations are significantly high and within the range of 0.22-1.18 ng/mg of hair.
  • IN URINE – Medical experts say that urine tests are not as effective because Ultram is metabolized very quickly. The drug and its metabolites are usually out of your urine within 2 days since the last dosing.
  • IN SALIVA – Research shows that when you take Ultram, around 87% can be detected in your oral fluid. The medication should start to show in saliva drug tests within an hour of ingestion. Then it may remain detectable for over 24 hours.
  • IN BLOOD – Blood testing only offers a short Ultram detection window. The drug is usually detectable within an hour of ingestion, but does not show up on blood drug tests 24 hours after the last dosing.

Positive drug testing for Ultram

If you are prescribed Ultram and your test comes back positive – it shouldn’t be a problem. This way, your Ultram use is justified due to medical reasons. However, know that Ultram is a controlled substance in all 50 U.S. states since July 7, 2014. Taking it without a legitimate prescription and getting caught can bring on many legal problems and possibly job loss.

With this fact in mind, it’s very important to tell the administrators of the test in case you are taking Ultram as part of a treatment program. But, it is a Medical Review Officer’s (MRO’s) job to determine whether there is a legitimate explanation for the positive Ultram test results. The repercussions of obtaining and using Ultram very depending on the court system of the State where you live.

Ultram testing discussion

Do you still have questions about Ultram detectability on drug tests. Please send us your questions by posting them in the comments section at the end of the page. We try to respond to all legitimate inquiries with a personal and prompt answer.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Determination of tramadol in hair using solid phase extraction and GC-MS
NIH: Department of Laboratory Medicine
Missouri State Highway Patrol: Toxicology information
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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