How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

Effects of hydrocodone: a treatment for moderate to chronic pain

Often combined with acetaminophen, hydrocodone has excellent pain-relieving properties but also has the potential for abuse and dependency (more on hydrocodone withdrawal).

  • Hydrocodone is a prescription medication used to treat moderate-to-severe pain.
  • Hydrocodone dosing is different for different individuals. You should follow the physician’s directions. 
  • Hydrocodone can remain active in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours, and it often takes about 24 hours to process out of the body fully. 

Life of hydrocodone: detection times in your body

The presence of hydrocodone can be detected in the body once the user stops taking the drug. A drug test can detect the presence of hydrocodone and other opioid drugs even if the user is no longer feeling the effects of the drug. The amounts of time a dose of hydrocodone can be detected in a user’s system are as follows. 

  • Blood: up to 24 hours
  • Saliva: up to two days
  • Urine: up to four days
  • Hair: up to 90 days

Hydrocodone half-life – short-acting hydrocodone and long-acting hydrocodone

A drug’s half-life is half the time required for the drug’s initial concentration to be reduced by 50%.   

Short-acting hydrocodone

  • Can begin to take effect within 60 minutes of consumption. 
  • Short-acting hydrocodone has a half-life of 3.5 hours, meaning this is the amount of time it takes for half a dose of hydrocodone to leave one’s system. 
  • It will take an average of 19 hours to eliminate all of the short-acting hydrocodone from the system.

Long-acting hydrocodone

  • The effect of long-acting hydrocodone varies from person to person, averaging from 5 to 30 hours after consumption.
  • The half-life of long-acting hydrocodone is estimated to be 8 hours.
  • This can take longer for those who are long-term users of the drug. 

Drug tests

Hydrocodone drug testing is commonly conducted through blood tests, and urine tests. Each drug test and drug screening will provide varying timelines. The level of exposure, as well as the time the patient has been on hydrocodone, may also determine how long the medication stays in your system. 

Blood tests

Blood samples can detect hydrocodone up to 24 hours following consumption. Initial detection when blood testing can be seen promptly after ingestion. 

Saliva testing

Saliva samples can detect hydrocodone up to 48 hours following consumption of the drug. 

Hair tests

Hair testing indicates that hydrocodone can be detected in hair follicle samples for the longest period of up to 90 days following consumption. 

Urine testing

Urine tests detect hydrocodone for up to 4 days following consumption. 

What determines how long hydrocodone stays in the system

There are several factors that influence how much hydrocodone is in a person’s system at any given time, such as:

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Body mass index (BMI) & body fat content 
  • Quantity of hydrocodone consumed
  • Duration of consumption

Hydrocodone addiction recovery: health and withdrawal from prescription drugs

Hydrocodone can be prescribed as an effective pain medication and is suitable as a controlled substance. Taking hydrocodone outside of the prescribed quantities can lead to drug abuse or opiate addiction. Hydrocodone addiction and abuse can be treated using inpatient rehab and medication-assisted treatment at a drug addiction recovery center. Some may also consider an intensive outpatient program.

Medical professionals at rehab centers can provide advice, diagnosis or treatment for withdrawal symptoms and substance abuse. 

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