How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?
More commonly known as Vicodin, hydrocodone is a strong opioid drug that works by binding to opioid receptors in the central nervous system to alleviate pain. This opioid is commonly prescribed in the United States to treat pain caused by arthritis or cancer, as well as a persistent cough. Any medications that contain hydrocodone have a high potential for abuse. In addition to the risk of addiction, another issue with hydrocodone is that it can leave traces in the body for long periods. In light of this issue, today we’re going to be focusing on answering an important question: how long does hydrocodone stay in your system?
How to Use Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is normally taken by mouth (orally) and has to pass through your digestive system before you feel any of its effects. Usually, hydrocodone side effects kick in about an hour after you’ve taken it.
For instance, a 10 milligram (mg) dose of hydrocodone may reach peak concentrations in the bloodstream after about 1.3 hours. The dose of the medication taken greatly affects this time frame.
Because opioids like hydrocodone are habit-forming and addictive (a problem that the opioid epidemic has made clear,) people who take it for long periods – even as prescribed – may develop a tolerance to the drug. For these people, it may take longer to experience relief, or the relief may not be as strong.
When this occurs, it’s best to speak to your doctor about changing doses or medications. Oftentimes, people who become tolerant to hydrocodone begin misusing it by taking higher doses without their doctor’s approval.
In the long run, this can lead to addiction and other negative repercussions. Furthermore, it’s also important to avoid mixing hydrocodone with alcohol or other medications that could potentially affect its impact on the body and increase your risk of overdose.
How Long Is Hydrocodone in Your System After Use?
The most common way to determine how long hydrocodone stays in your system is by determining its half-life. A drug’s half-life refers to how long it takes for half of it to be eliminated from the body.
Hydrocodone’s half-life is roughly 3.8 hours in healthy adults, meaning it takes 3.8 hours for a healthy body to eliminate half of the dose of hydrocodone that was taken. However, it takes several half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from the body.
With that being said, it’s estimated that hydrocodone stays in your system for at least 18 to 24 hours after use. This time frame can change, however, depending on the type of drug test used.
For instance, below are some duration times for hydrocodone for different drug tests:
- Urine: Hydrocodone stays in your urine for 2 to 4 days after use.
- Blood: Hydrocodone can be detected in blood within 1.3 hours and is detectable for up to 24 hours after it’s taken.
- Saliva: Saliva tests can detect hydrocodone for 12 to 36 hours after the person’s last dose.
- Hair: Traces of hydrocodone can be detected in hair for nearly 90 days after the person last used it.
Factors That Affect How Long Hydrocodone Lasts in Your System
Generally, opioids like hydrocodone tend to have short half-lives, meaning they leave your system fairly quickly, though effects may persist for longer. How long hydrocodone stays in your body depends on multiple factors, including how it was used.
Prescription opioids generally come in pill form, which means they’re taken by mouth. Drugs that are taken this way have to pass through our digestive system first, so it may take about an hour or so for side effects to kick in.
On the other hand, people who become tolerant to hydrocodone may experiment with how they take it so they can experience relief more quickly and even get high. For instance, the person may crush and snort this drug or attempt to inject it, two different forms of administration that can affect the intensity of side effects and the duration of the drug in the body.
Factors that affect how long hydrocodone stays in your body include:
- Metabolism rate
- Body fat percentage
- Body mass and weight
- How often the person uses hydrocodone
- How much hydrocodone the person uses
- Amount of water in the body
- The use of additional drugs or alcohol
It’s important to never experiment with your medications and to always take them as prescribed. As we mentioned before, if you feel like your prescription opioid is no longer providing relief, speak to your doctor about an alternative solution.
Risks of Hydrocodone Overdose
Because hydrocodone can stay in your body for several hours, many people accidentally overdose by taking other medications or drinking alcohol within this time frame. They may think, “Oh, I took this medication yesterday, so I can drink today,” when in reality, traces of hydrocodone may still be present in their system.
An opioid overdose may also occur if you take higher doses of hydrocodone than directed or if you mix it with other substances. As with other opioid intoxications, hydrocodone overdose is usually characterized by potentially fatal symptoms like respiratory depression and extreme sedation, so you must receive medical assistance immediately if you recognize any of these signs in yourself or someone else.
Narcotic bowel syndrome is another common symptom of hydrocodone overdose. Opioids reduce all types of bodily functions, including digestion, which can lead to reduced bowel function and uncomfortable symptoms like constipation, bloating, nausea, and vomiting.
If hydrocodone is misused by crushing and snorting it, the person may lose their sense of smell and experience other side effects like nosebleeds, congestion, and recurring sinus infections. Long-term hydrocodone use alongside acetaminophen use increases the risk of liver damage and failure, as well.
Help for Hydrocodone Addiction
Like other opioids, hydrocodone has a high potential for abuse and addiction, so it should always be taken as prescribed and with caution. It’s crucial to never take higher doses than directed and avoid using other drugs or alcohol while taking hydrocodone.
For those who have become addicted to this prescription opioid, our Delaware drug rehab offers effective treatment that can help. Following a clinical assessment, we may start the patient off with medically monitored detox to safely manage their withdrawal symptoms.
Opioids are one of the most dangerous substances to withdraw from, so 24-hour medical support is vital. Following detox, the patient can then move on to opioid addiction treatment.
Our programs utilize multiple therapy and counseling approaches to help patients recover mentally and socially from addiction, as well. The team at our Milford rehab is here to help with anything you or a loved one may need during recovery.
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