How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 9, 2022

Hydrocodone can stay in your system for about 19 hours after last use. Drug testing methods can detect recent hydrocodone use for up to 3 days on average.

Hydrocodone is an opioid drug that can provide pain relief to patients suffering from chronic pain or severe pain. It can be combined with acetaminophen in brand name products such as Norco, Lortab, and Vicodin.

Hydrocodone is a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States with a high potential for drug abuse. Drug testing methods can detect recent hydrocodone use, and a positive test result may be a sign of a chronic drug use problem in the patient.

Drug Testing For Hydrocodone Use

Drug testing methods can detect either unchanged hydrocodone in the body or its metabolites. Metabolites are components of the drug that remain after the body’s absorption process. The unique metabolite of hydrocodone is norhydrocodone.

Drug testing can detect recent drug use after the elimination time has passed. Metabolites may remain in certain parts of the body for hours, days, or even weeks after the last dose.

Drug testing may be performed by an employer placing employees under suspicion of opioid use, by law enforcement, or by healthcare professionals during a substance abuse treatment program.

How Long Does It Stay In Your Urine?

Hydrocodone can be detected in urine tests for about 3 days after the last dose. Urine tests can be a common drug testing method due to the convenience and non-invasive nature of the test.

Urine tests may be tampered with or substituted for other samples by the patient. This may return inconclusive or negative tests, but can also have legal consequences.

How Long Does It Stay In Your Blood?

Blood tests can detect hydrocodone for about 10 hours after the last dose.

Blood tests may be less preferable than other testing methods due to the invasive nature of the test. Blood samples may be taken from patients showing withdrawal symptoms in hospital settings.

How Long Does It Stay In Your Saliva?

Saliva tests can detect hydrocodone for about 10 hours after the last dose. Saliva tests may be preferred by healthcare providers and patients due to the convenience of the test.

Patients may be instructed to avoid eating or drinking beforehand. Patients may be monitored during the test to avoid tampering.

How Long Does It Stay In Your Hair?

Hydrocodone lasts in hair follicles for about 90 days after the last dose. Metabolites can reach hair follicles through the bloodstream and remain there as hair grows out.

Hair tests can have long detection times compared to other methods of testing.

Half-Life Of Hydrocodone

Half-life is the amount of time it takes for a drug to decrease to half its peak concentration after a dose of hydrocodone. Half-life can be used to calculate when a drug leaves a person’s system. After about five half-life cycles, most drugs are virtually eliminated from the body.

The average half-life of hydrocodone is about 3.8 hours. Five half-life cycles of hydrocodone is approximately 19 hours. A person may feel the side effects of hydrocodone, such as sedation and pain relief, for this length of time.

How long hydrocodone stays in the body can also be affected by body fat, frequency of use, the formulation of hydrocodone taken, and other factors.

Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment Options

A positive result on a hydrocodone test may result in a referral to substance abuse treatment. If you are already undergoing treatment, stricter rules may be enforced.

Substance abuse treatment for hydrocodone may involve detox, the use of prescription drugs via medication-assisted treatment, and mental health services to help you recover from opioid abuse.

To find out if our inpatient opioid addiction treatment program works for you or your loved one, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. ARUP Laboratories — Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window
  2. Drug and Alcohol Dependence — Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use
  3. Food and Drug Administration — Norco Drug Label
  4. Mayo Clinic Laboratories — Opiates

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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