Substance Use

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

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multi drug urine test opioids hydrocodone

Hydrocodone, also known by the brand names Vicodin, Lortab, and Lorcet, is a fairly commonly prescribed opiate painkiller. Although opiates and other prescription drugs play a key role in medicine to help people experiencing severe pain and chronic pain, they also have a high potential for abuse because they are so addictive and therefore responsible for an opioid epidemic that’s sweeping the nation and world.

The most recent figures from the National Library of Medicine show that 3 million Americans and 16 million people across the globe have had or are currently suffering from an opioid use disorder (OUD). Keep reading to learn more about hydrocodone, how long it stays in your system, and the factors that impact how long it stays in the body. If you or a loved one are struggling with opiate addiction, help is available. Learn more about opiate addiction treatment with Zinnia Healing here.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, or Hair?

Hydrocodone can be detected in the urine for around one to three days after ingestion. It can be detected in the saliva for 12-36 hours, the blood for up to one day, and in the hair for up to 90 days.

What Can Affect How Long Hydrocodone Stays in Your Body?

There are a number of factors that can impact the amount of time that opiates, such as hydrocodone, stay in the body, including:

  • Dosage: If someone is prescribed hydrocodone by a healthcare provider, they will give them a dosage based on their condition and size. The higher the dose, the longer it will take the body to metabolize hydrocodone to allow it to leave the system. People who take unprescribed hydrocodone often take large doses, so the drug will stay in the body longer.
  • Frequency of intake: The longer someone uses hydrocodone, the longer it will take the body to fully eliminate the drug from the system. For example, someone with a long history of drug use will have more time for traces of the drug to build up in their body that will take much longer to clear than someone who has used the drug for a short length of time.
  • Age: The younger you arethe faster your body will process the hydrocodone, mostly because a young person’s organs are stronger and healthier than the systems of older adults. 
  • Genetics: CYP450 and UDP-glucuronosyltransferases are the enzymes in the body that help process hydrocodone. The quality and quantity of these enzymes differ from person to person based on their genetics, which also impacts how a person metabolizes a drug.
  • Kidney and liver health: The kidney and liver are responsible for processing and eliminating drugs from the body. People with liver damage, kidney damage, and other conditions with these organs will likely see slower elimination.
  • Body fat: Some drugs can be stored in fat cells, and the more fat cells a person has or the higher their body fat content, the longer it will take the drug to leave the system.

How Is Hydrocodone Detected on Drug Tests?

Hydrocodone can be detected in blood, saliva, hair follicle, and urine drug tests.

For a blood test, a technician will draw your blood with a small needle and collect it in a test tube or vial. They will then send that sample to a lab or test it at an in-house lab to measure hydrocodone levels.

During a urine test, you will be asked to urinate in a cup. The technician will use a dipstick to test your urine for hydrocodone or send it to a lab that will perform the test.

During a saliva test, a healthcare provider will use a swab or pad to collect saliva from the inside of the cheek, or they will have you spit in a tube. Then, they will analyze the saliva or spit to see if hydrocodone is present.

In a hair test, a technician will take a sample of your hair, usually from the root, to screen it for hydrocodone.

What Is Hydrocodone’s Half-Life?

The half-life for a standard dose of hydrocodone is about 3.8 hours, meaning it takes about 3.8 hours for half of this dose to leave the average person’s body. As we mentioned earlier, hydrocodone is metabolized in the liver. It is then eliminated via urine. 

As we mentioned, a number of factors play a role in determining exactly how long hydrocodone takes to be eliminated from each person’s body.

If you or a loved one needs help tapering off of hydrocodone in a safe environment, click here to learn about substance abuse detox at Zinnia Healing or call (855) 430-9439 to speak with one of our compassionate admissions counselors.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Hydrocodone to Wear Off?

Most people will start to feel the effects of hydrocodone within 10 to 30 minutes of taking the drug, with the most potent effects taking place in 30 to 60 minutes. The effects of hydrocodone generally last for four to six hours from the last dose unless you have taken an extended-release tablet, which will last up to 12 hours.

Common side effects of hydrocodone include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Painful urination
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tightening
  • Ringing ears
  • Swollen feet, ankles, or legs

Sometimes the side effects of hydrocodone — especially if a large dose was taken — can be severe. You should contact your doctor immediately if you begin to experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Shivering 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Hives
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe muscle stiffness
  • Twitching 
  • Swollen eyes, lips, tongue, or throat

When your body becomes dependent on hydrocodone, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug. The most common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Goosebumps
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Drug cravings
  • Suicidal thoughts

Zinnia Healing Can Help

Hydrocodone addiction can easily lead to an opioid overdose and other life-altering effects. But, help is available, and recovery is possible. Contact Zinnia Healing today to learn more about our treatment facility, staff, and programs.