Ultram, the main active ingredient in tramadol, doesn’t show up in a routine drug test unless it’s specifically tested for. Tramadol is normally prescribed for patients with moderate to severe pain, but it’s also addictive, and patients may form a habit for it even if they do not need it.
Drug tests are different. Tramadol won’t show up on the kind of drug tests employers will usually demand you undergo, but it would show up if they run a random toxicological screening that tests for prescription drugs. And many employers do demand for toxicological screening.
Why Does it not Show Up in Regular Drug Tests?
It’s because Ultram is an opioid and not an opiate. Ultram is a synthetic drug with a chemical structure that is similar to that of an opiate but it’s metabolized differently in the body. It does not contain the opium plant extract obtained from poppy plants, and its end product in the body is different from those of morphine derivatives.
The 5-panel drug test usually screened for by employers is designed to detect alkaloid derivatives of the poppy plant. Tramadol, Percocet, Ultram and Oxycodone will not be detected.
Is Testing for Tramadol Necessary?
For employers, testing for tramadol is important because of the severe side effects of tramadol misuse such as hallucination, unconsciousness, seizures, difficulty breathing, and poor concentration. A lot of people abuse tramadol and similar prescription drugs even though they do not need it for any health reason and it can become addictive.
Doctors may also demand a toxicological screening to see if a patient is adhering to therapy. For healthcare professionals, the toxicological screening is more thorough because they have access to many regulated drugs.
A toxicological test may also be demanded by a school if there is a reason to suspect a recent drug abuse.
Also, taking tramadol without medical supervision can be prosecuted as a crime.
Types of Tramadol Drug Test
Blood test and Toxi-Lab A test are the most common types of test for tramadol. However, the test is only qualitative and not quantitative, which means that it can only detect the presence of tramadol but not the amount of tramadol in the system. The employer will only be able to know that it’s in your system but not if you’re abusing the drug. If you’re taking it as part of a medication, you may want to inform your employer.
Tramadol can also be detected in urine or hair tests, but only if it’s specifically tested for and this only happens when there is suspicion of an abuse. However, a urine test is not very reliable as tramadol leaves the body quickly.
Positive Test Can Mean Trouble
Tramadol’s use is regulated in many states because of its potential abuse and addiction. If you test positive, you could be in legal trouble unless you have a valid medical prescription for the drug. The legal status of tramadol varies from state to state and you will need to check the laws of your state.
The presence of tramadol in your system may cost you your job or prevent you from getting a job if not explained, even if the legal requirement in your state isn’t clear. However, it’s rarely tested for in a pre-employment test.