Like most opioids, tramadol is used to relieve pain in severely ill patients or those suffering from chronic pain. It’s indicated in cases where the pain is moderate to moderately severe and not intended for the worst case pain scenarios. Patients are often advised to begin with a low dose of tramadol (sold under the brand name Ultram in the US) and to gradually increase until a level of adequate pain relief is achieved. When tramadol was first synthesized and introduced to the market, many held the belief that it was non-addictive and therefore a breakthrough pain medication that would render narcotic pain relievers obsolete. The FDA even went so far as to leave it off their drug schedules. But as with most things that seem too good to be true, it became apparent in fairly short order that tramadol wasn’t the non-addictive opioid everyone hoped it was.
Although it was released to great fanfare some 40 years ago, it didn't take long for public health officials to begin raising concerns about the allegedly “non-addictive” tramadol. For years these dissenting voices were drowned out by the PR from manufacturers who knew a cash cow when they saw one.
Once generic variants of the drug hit the market in 2009, the number of prescriptions went through the roof in lockstep with the number of recreational users and the number of overdoses. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of tramadol emergency room overdose cases in the US nearly tripled. And on the street, the situation wasn’t any better.
Recreational users were/are drawn to the euphoric state the drug is reputed to produce; in contrast to the drowsiness produced by other opioids. As such it’s become an in-demand street drug on nearly every continent producing public health emergencies in countries as different as Ireland and Egypt. In 2014 as a result of a mountain of disturbing evidence, the US government reluctantly reversed its earlier call and designated tramadol a schedule IV controlled substance. This means it has valid medical applications but may pose a risk of abuse and addiction. In spite of this, however, tramadol use continues to rise both in legitimate medical settings and on the street.
Besides posing a clear and present danger of addiction and abuse, tramadol also generates its fair share of side effects. Less severe side effects include hives, skin rashes, fever, sore throat, sensitive skin and shortness of breath. But the fun doesn’t stop there because more severe side effects include shallow breathing, reduced heart rate, light-headedness, convulsions, erectile dysfunction, vomiting, hallucinations, twitching, loss of balance, weakness, and death.
If you experience any of the more serious side effects, it's recommended you seek medical help immediately.
With last year’s declaration of a national opioid crisis, companies near and far that weren’t already aware of the issue were suddenly given a wakeup call. As a result, opioid users who may have previously been able to sneak past a 5-panel drug test looking for opiates now have plenty to be concerned about. For example, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that as of January 1, 2018, all DOT drug tests will be expanded to look for opioids as well as opiates.
That means all commercial truck drivers, bus drivers and anyone else who drives a commercial vehicle that requires a business license is now going to be tested for opioids. And there are more than 3.5 million business truck drivers alone in the US. But it’s not just drivers who are coming under the opioid microscope. Machinery operators, forklift operators, crane operators, steelworkers, police officers and more are all going to feel the heat.
In the case of an average-sized young adult in otherwise good health, tramadol will typically be detectable in a urine test for 2 to 5 days after last use. For those addicted to tramadol, the elimination period may be substantially longer. Other factors will enter into the length of the elimination period including weight, age, metabolic rate and BMI.
So if you took tramadol over the weekend to enhance your club experience and you’ve got a drug test scheduled for Monday or Tuesday you’re going to be in a very tight spot indeed if your company is now testing for opioids. (And you should assume it is.)
The best way to ensure you pass all future drug tests is to stop using. That said if you have a test looming and believe you may not pass it using your own urine you have a few options that range from bad to good.
A drug test for opioids doesn’t have to end your career. Use Quick Fix and tip the scales back in your favor.