How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

If you’re one of the 86.3 million Americans who use hydrocodone every year, then you might wonder how long the drug can stay in your body.

The answer depends on:

  • Whether you use other opioid drugs
  • What type of drug test you’re taking
  • Your health, metabolism, and genetics 
  • Your substance abuse history

Here’s what you need to know about how fast hydrocodone leaves your system: 

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in the Body?

Also known as Lortab or Vicodin, hydrocodone starts to cause body and brain effects within 60 minutes after you take it by mouth. 

The effects gradually build in intensity and usually reach a “peak” by 80 minutes after taking it. 

At this stage, you may experience:

  • Euphoria 
  • Pain relief 
  • Sedation
  • Sleepiness 
  • Slow breathing 

Hydrocodone can produce some negative effects at this point too, including sexual dysfunction and itching.

Then, these effects continue to last for 3 to 6 hours on average. 

These numbers aren’t exact and how long it lasts can vary depending on what you’re taking—there’s more than one formulation of the drug.

If you take fast-release hydrocodone, then the effects could come on more quickly and leave more quickly too. For long-acting versions, you might feel the effects more slowly, but experience them for longer. 

The frequency of use and dosage can affect this too.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Blood?

Hydrocodone stays in your blood for the shortest period out of any bodily substance. 

That’s because blood tests depend on the drug’s half-life, and like many opioid drugs, hydrocodone’s half-life is short. A half-life is the length of time it takes for your body to remove half of a typical dose from your bloodstream.

A half-life is determined by doing research with healthy male subjects, so it’s possible that it’s not the best way to figure out how long the drug can stay in your body for everyone. Women have different metabolisms than men do, and so do people living with health conditions.

Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3.8 hours for most people, so it could stay detectable in your blood for up to 8 hours on average.

That’s why it’s unlikely that you’ll get a blood test for hydrocodone. The test would almost need to be administered while you’re still under the influence of the drug in order to have an accurate positive result!

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Saliva?

Saliva tests can detect hydrocodone for 12 to 36 hours after the last dose. It’s a short time frame, so these tests aren’t used to detect opioids very often.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Hair? 

Hydrocodone can stay in your hair for much longer than other bodily substances. Your hair shafts can hold evidence of the drug (and its byproducts, known as metabolites) for over 90 days since the last time taken.

Because the drug and its metabolites are actually stored in your hair shaft, there’s no way to speed up detox short of shaving your head! However, because of cost, this kind of drug test is still less common than a urine test.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Urine?

Finally, a urine test is the most effective way to test for hydrocodone. That’s because the test is inexpensive and easy to get. It works quickly and continues to detect the drug in your system for 4 to 7 days after you use it.

Urine tests for employment or legal use are usually a five, 10, or 12-panel drug test, which checks for opioids (and other drugs). Since hydrocodone is an opioid drug, it could show up on this kind of urine screening.

Factors That Affect How Long Hydrocodone Stays in Your System

You may be wondering what’s the best way to detox from hydrocodone fast, and the answer is, there’s no real way to control that.

There are plenty of products on the market or DIY detoxes claiming to get you clean from opioids fast, but you can count on the fact that none of them work. The only cure for detox is time.

You can help get your detox off to the right start by taking care of your health and by paying attention to the factors that affect detox length. 

Those factors include: 

  • Your metabolism: Fast metabolisms detox faster than slow ones, but you can’t do much to control this. Factors include your age and weight, but it’s not the same for everyone.
  • Your substance abuse history: If you have a history of using opioids heavily or in high amounts, or over a long time period, then you could take longer to detox.
  • Your physical health: People with healthy systems might have a shorter detox duration than people who have metabolic or digestive diseases.

Get Treatment for Opioid Abuse

If you’re worrying about your hydrocodone use causing you to fail a lab test, it could be time to start recovery.

Research shows that the earlier you start treatment, the more likely you are to have a good outcome. Now is the best time to start. 

Treatment for opioid use often includes:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This kind of therapy teaches you better control over your thoughts and urges so it’s easier to avoid drugs.
  • Daily check-ins: Accountability is a big part of recovery, and regular appointments help keep you on track.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy: DBT teaches you to live with mindfulness and intention, strategies that are popular among the recovery community.
  • Medication-assisted treatment: MAT helps prevent relapse by eliminating cravings for opioids.

Your treatment will be tailored to your needs and history because no two patients are alike. Call Bedrock Recovery Center today to learn more!


Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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