Hydrocodone is a strong opioid that works by blocking pain signals in the brain. In addition to individual prescriptions, hydrocodone is also mixed with other drugs to produce different medications, including Lortab. Lortab is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, another pain reliever that’s found in over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol. Because it’s a combination medicine, patients often wonder, “how long does Lortab stay in your system?” The answer depends on a few factors and understanding this can help prevent adverse reactions to alcohol and other drugs.
Like other opioids, hydrocodone attaches itself to opioid receptors in the brain and body to block pain signaling and alleviate the patient’s symptoms. Acetaminophen, otherwise known as Tylenol, is an over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer. These medications are combined to create a stronger form of treatment for people suffering from severe pain.
The usual dose of Lortab is 1 or 2 tablets daily, with side effects lasting 4 to 6 hours. Lortab is prescribed to only be taken as needed. Common, unwanted Lortab side effects include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, upset stomach, and dizziness. It takes time for patients to adjust to the medication, after which these uncomfortable side effects eventually subside or occur less frequently and intensely.
In cases where the person has used Lortab for long periods, side effects of Lortab kick in 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, with side effects lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. The package insert for the medication suggests that Lortab’s side effects peak in blood concentration levels about 1.3 hours after ingestion.1
It’s also important to note that the risk of abuse and addiction to Lortab use is mainly because of hydrocodone. As an opioid, hydrocodone alleviates pain and activates the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.
In high doses, Lortab can produce a euphoric and sedative high that’s also marked by a reaction in the brain’s reward system. The combination of euphoria and reward encourages further drug-taking behavior, which eventually leads to addiction.
Dependence on opioids usually requires opioid addiction treatment and detox to recover from and sustain sobriety. However, this is avoidable if any opioid medications are taken as prescribed.
So how long does Lortab stay in your system, and why is it important to know? Lortab stays in your system anywhere from 18 to 24 hours. How long hydrocodone-acetaminophen lasts depends on several factors, including the drug’s half-life, a person’s age, liver health, how long they’ve been using the drug, and the doses they’re accustomed to taking.
Acetaminophen’s half-life is around 1 to 3 hours. This is the time in which half of the drug would no longer be active in your system. Hydrocodone has a half-life of about four hours, and it takes five to six half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from one’s body. With that said, hydrocodone remains in the body anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
People who are older tend to have slower metabolisms, which can affect the Lortab elimination process. Additionally, since both hydrocodone and acetaminophen are metabolized in the liver, any existing liver problems can also impact the elimination process.
What’s more, the dose and duration of Lortab use also affect how long hydrocodone-acetaminophen stays in your system. For instance, a person who’s been using Lortab for 8 months might take longer to eliminate the drug than a person who’s been taking it for 4 months.
It’s important to know how long drugs stay in your system if you’re seeking employment or are an athlete who gets drug tested regularly. Drug tests might be conducted as a result of probation, legal cases, custody, divorce, employee testing, and court-ordered testing. Many sporting officials also require drug screenings to determine whether athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs or any other prohibited substances.
Understanding the duration of Lortab in the system or any other drug also protects you from accidental drug interactions. For instance, many people make the mistake of skipping a dose of their medication so they can drink alcohol, but most medications remain in your system after you stop taking them (for a bit). This means that the remaining substance can interact with alcohol or any other substance you take, even if you skipped a day’s or two’s worth of doses.
Lortab will show up on a drug test as an opiate. If you were prescribed this medication, be sure to mention it to the testing laboratory so they can interpret your test results accurately.
The detection windows for Lortab in drug tests depend on which substance of the body is being tested. Below are the detection times for hydrocodone-acetaminophen in drug screenings:
If you think that you or your loved one may be dependent or addicted to Lortab or other opioid medications, our Boston rehab can help. We offer both illicit and prescription drug addiction treatment that incorporates individual and group therapy to promote sobriety.
Many people who become addicted to prescription opioids eventually turn to heroin and other more accessible and cheaper drugs to feed their addiction. Our facility provides various rehab programs that address all kinds of substance use disorders. We can help you or a loved one get sober and start a new life.