Can Tramadol Be Detected through a Drug Test?

If you ever went through pain so strong that it needed to be controlled through pain killers, you probably know how hard it is to stop using them, once the treatment is over. Tramadol, like other prescribed medicine for acute pain, is addictive and patients who used it for a while may get hooked on it. If you want to know if Tramadol can be found through a drug test, you will find the answer below.

Various types of drug tests

The first part of the answer to the question is: It depends which test will be done. When a blood or urine test is done, the doctor requesting it has to identify what he is looking for, in order for the lab receiving the samples to do the right one(s). Therefore, the results will depend on the prescription. If we don’t know which test will be done, we can assume that the doctor has requested a routine drug test. Then, Tramadol would not be detected, since its main active ingredient, Ultram, is not part of what is required to look for, on routine tests.

These simple tests are usually the most common ones, when they are requested by an employer. This said, it is not rare that some of them will also ask the lab for random toxicological screening. Such tests do look for prescription drugs, which Tramadol is. Therefore, if your employer asks for it, and you use Tramadol, the test will confirm it.

What is Included in a Regular Drug Test?

When an employer asks for a drug test, the laboratory hired to analyze the samples usually use the 5-panel drug test method. This is meant to be searching for all drugs that would derive from opium. They are looking to detect signs of alkaloid derivatives, found inside the poppy plant; not the morphine derivatives, used in drugs like Tramadol.

The main ingredient of Tramadol, Ultram, is an opioid – not an opiate. The structure of Ultram, a synthetic drug, although similar to an opiate is metabolized differently inside the body. Other drugs that would not be found in a routine test are: Percocet, Ultram and Oxycodone.

Why Do Employers, Schools and Doctors Test for Tramadol?

Since Tramadol is a prescription drug, one may ask why employers, schools and doctors ask for tests that can unveil its consumption. The response actually varies according to which of them asks for it. Let’s go through the various categories.


Before hiring an employee, a company may want to know if the individual they are thinking of adding to their team is currently under the influence of Tramadol. Naturally, if that person has a prescription, and he can explain what he uses it for not hiring an employee on the base of medical reason could be problematic for the firm and end up in court. But if someone is using Tramadol for no reason, it is important for a company to know, especially if that employee can be placed in a position of danger, because of his work. That would be the case if he has to control equipment that may cause him harm, if the employee is not fully concentrated on the task at hand.

Tramadol, when used outside the norms of medical treatment, can cause hallucinations, unconsciousness, seizures and breathing difficulties. Furthermore, it affects the employee in a way that makes him have poor concentration, which might place him in harm’s way.

Companies also sometimes proceed to random testing to detect any employee that might use drugs illegally. The main reason is that these persons are not fully capable of doing their job right, due to the secondary effects the drug has on them.


When a doctor asks for toxicological screening, it is usually because they want to make sure that their patient is following the treatment as prescribed and is not abusing the drug. Because of their position in the health system, the drug tests ordered by doctors are usually more thorough.


Schools can ask for a drug test on one of their students, if they believe that he/she is abusing drugs. Keep in mind that taking Tramadol without a doctor’s prescription is illegal.

Positive Tramadol Test

If a test is ordered for an individual, and it comes back positive, but there is no doctor’s prescription, its use is considered a crime. Many states in America have regulated Tramadol, and if you are found abusing it, you could face criminal charges. Check with your local authorities to know the regulations on Tramadol before taking it.

You could also lose your job over the use of Tramadol, if consumed illegally. That is why companies order tests. Afterwards, it might be very difficult for you to find a new one as well. Although it is not frequent as a test for new employees, if you or someone close to you is using Tramadol without a prescription, you should look for ways to stop, so that you don’t find yourself going through legal procedures in the future.