Hydrocodone is a strong opioid drug that blocks pain signals in the brain. The time it takes for hydrocodone to leave the system varies between individuals, but it can range from a day to a few weeks.
Hydrocodone is one of the
Many people know this medication as Vicodin, though Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and another drug called acetaminophen. Other brand names for this combination include Norco, Lortab, and Lorcet.
These hydrocodone-based medicines have a high potential for abuse. In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
Additionally, hydrocodone can leave traces in the body for a long time, meaning healthcare professionals can detect even small doses in a person’s blood, urine, saliva, and hair.
This article explores how long hydrocodone lasts in the body.
According to Addiction Resource, it takes at least 18–24 hours for the body to clear most hydrocodone from the body. By this point, the body eliminates more than
However, the timing varies significantly depending on the area of the body that a healthcare professional is testing. Traces of the drug can remain in certain areas well beyond 24 hours.
How long does hydrocodone stay in the blood?
In the blood, hydrocodone is present at its highest level after about 1.3 hours and is detectable for up to 24 hours after intake.
How long does hydrocodone stay in the saliva?
In the saliva, tests detect hydrocodone anywhere between 12 and 36 hours after a dose.
How long does hydrocodone stay in the urine?
In the urine, tests can detect the drug for around 1–4 days after a person takes it.
How long does hydrocodone stay in the hair?
In the hair, traces of hydrocodone are detectable for the longest period — nearly 90 days after a person takes the drug.
There are many reasons why the time it takes for hydrocodone to leave the body varies. Some factors that influence this include:
A doctor prescribes a dosage depending on a person’s height, weight, and body fat composition, so dosages vary from person to person.
In the body, there are two classes of enzymes that help process hydrocodone: CYP450 and UDP-glucuronosyltransferases.
The quality and quantity of these enzymes vary from person to person according to their genes. This, too, can affect how a person metabolizes a drug.
When a person uses hydrocodone for a longer period — such as months or years — it likely takes longer to eliminate the drug from their system than those who only take hydrocodone for a few days.
This effect relates to pharmacodynamic tolerance. This is the process by which a person
Frequency of intake
Hydrocodone is available as an extended-release (long-acting) 12-hour capsule, which a person takes once every 12 hours, as well as an extended-release tablet taken once every 24 hours.
The body takes longer to excrete the 24-hour tablet from the body.
Common side effects of hydrocodone use include:
- dry mouth
- nausea and vomiting
Other symptoms may include:
- swelling in the hands or feet
- cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, a sore throat, or a stuffy nose
- missed periods
- drowsiness or a nagging feeling of fatigue
- a loss of interest in sex
- loss of appetite
- pain or burning sensation while urinating
- muscle and back pain
Hydrocodone also has the potential to cause weak or shallow breathing, so people with asthma, sleep apnea, or other respiratory conditions should check with a doctor about other forms of treatment.
Hydrocodone is an addictive drug, so it is not uncommon for people to misuse it or consume more than the prescribed dose.
Signs of hydrocodone misuse
- difficulty breathing
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- a slow heart rate (bradycardia)
- a loss of consciousness
- pupil constriction (miosis)
- itchy skin (pruritus)
Another condition that may occur in people who misuse opioids, including hydrocodone, is
If a person misuses hydrocodone by taking it via the nose, it can cause them to lose their sense of smell. Snorting the drug can also lead to nosebleeds, congestion, and frequent sinus infections.
Hydrocodone and acetaminophen
Research has found that taking hydrocodone alongside acetaminophen can
Hydrocodone abuse may also cause damage to the kidneys, and the person may require dialysis.
The length of time that hydrocodone stays in the body varies from person to person. This is due to factors such as age, genetics, and the frequency of intake. Generally, one dose takes at least 18–24 hours to leave the body.
There are certain risks associated with hydrocodone, especially in the case of long-term use. People on hydrocodone treatment should take it as a doctor instructs and report any side effects.