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How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

How long does hydrocodone stay in your system? Find out everything you need to know in this article.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System

Article Contents

What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone, also known as dihydrocodeinone or hydrocodone bitartrate, is a prescription opioid that treats moderate to severe pain and suppresses cough. For pain treatment, hydrocodone is combined with ibuprofen or acetaminophen. For cough relief, hydrocodone is paired with homatropine methylbromide. Prescription hydrocodone is available in capsules and tablets.

While it is a prescription, hydrocodone has a high potential for addiction due to its pleasurable and relaxing effects on the body. From 1999 to 2019, opioid deaths increased by six times, and hydrocodone is one of the most prescribed opioids.

How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effects of Hydrocodone?

Typically, it takes less than one hour for the effects of hydrocodone to kick in. Afterward, hydrocodone will deploy its pain relief capabilities for four to six hours.

Note that regular hydrocodone intake will make the body more tolerant of the drug. Therefore, as use continues, people may find that the drug takes longer to work and relieve pain. Research in 2017 and 2018 has shown that an estimated 5.5 million people misused hydrocodone.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Last in the Body?

The hydrocodone will typically remain in the body for eighteen to twenty-four hours. However, there are many cases where it stays for much longer, sometimes several days. After ingestion, it takes a while for hydrocodone to leave the system due to its half-life.

Half-life is the scientific way of measuring how long hydrocodone stays in the body. Half-life is the time required to expel half of the dose of hydrocodone in the system. For example, on average, hydrocodone half-life is 3.8 hours for healthy male adults. However, half-life will differ from person to person, depending on age, weight, metabolism, dosage, etc., which will be explained further below.

Half-Life of Hydrocodone Throughout Body

Hydrocodone hangs around in the body after its work is done. So, even after completing its pain relief operation, people will still have hydrocodone in their blood, saliva, urine, and hair.

  • Blood: After ingestion, it takes about one day for the blood to be free of hydrocodone.
  • Saliva: It takes twelve to thirty-six hours for hydrocodone to leave the system.
  • Urine: Hydrocodone in urine remains for up to four days after the last ingestion.
  • Hair: Hydrocodone lasts up to ninety days in the hair.

Factors That Influence How Long the Effects of Hydrocodone Last

The duration of hydrocodone and its effects vary depending on a number of factors, including:


The higher the hydrocodone dosage, the longer the drug stays in the body. Prescribed hydrocodone dosage depends on several factors, such as age and the various potencies of hydrocodone products.

Overall Health

Hydrocodone will stay longer in people with certain medical conditions. For example, hydrocodone metabolites, which are responsible for breaking down the drug, work with the help of the liver and kidney. Therefore, these hydrocodone metabolites will have difficulty performing their duties when there is kidney and liver damage.


Metabolism rates are not the same for everyone. Thus, the faster the metabolism rate, the shorter the hydrocodone will spend in the body.

Hydrocodone Overdose and Withdrawal

Hydrocodone, like other opioids, can produce pleasurable feelings in the body. For this reason, seeking the desired effects can sometimes lead to overdose on the drug. In addition, repeated use of hydrocodone can cause dependency, leading to withdrawal symptoms when consumption ceases.

Symptoms of Hydrocodone Overdose

When anyone takes more hydrocodone than they should, the body responds through specific reactions. Hydrocodone overdose reactions and symptoms range from mild to severe, so people should always make sure they follow their doctor’s prescribed hydrocodone dosage. In 2016, opioid-related overdose deaths surpassed forty-two thousand, with 40% involving prescription opioids.3

Hydrocodone Consumption

The average dose of hydrocodone is one or two capsules of 11.25 mL (for ages fourteen and above) every four to six hours. People should not take more than 4 g (4,000 mg) of hydrocodone per day. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an average three thousand nine hundred people will misuse prescription opioids each day.

Indications of Overdose

Common hydrocodone overdose symptoms include:
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Sleepiness
  • Death

Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

As hydrocodone use continues, the body becomes accustomed to it. Therefore, a sudden stop in the use of the drug will trigger reactions. These reactions or withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating

Which Tests Are Used to Detect Hydrocodone?

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System
Below are the tests used to detect hydrocodone in the body:
  • Urine Tests
  • Blood Tests
  • Hair Tests
  • Saliva Tests
Hydrocodone detection aims to verify the presence of hydrocodone in the system. Hydrocodone detection helps to assess compliance to safe hydrocodone use.

Testing of Hydrocodone in the Body

Hydrocodone testing can be part of a more comprehensive drug test that is required for employment and other social benefits and opportunities.

Experts can spot the presence of hydrocodone through testing procedures. For example, saliva, blood, urine, and hair samples are all test options to detect hydrocodone. As mentioned in the half-life section above, different samples have different half-lives. Thus, some tests are more effective than others, such as the hair test, which can detect hydrocodone ninety days after last use.

In addition, people can conduct at-home tests using a hydrocodone test kit.

Treatment of Hydrocodone Addiction at Iris Healing®

If you or your loved one have shown any hydrocodone overdose symptoms or are suffering from hydrocodone addiction, you need to get treatment immediately. Iris Healing® offers high-quality and comprehensive treatment options for hydrocodone addiction, allowing for a safe and effective recovery.

At Iris Healing®, you will have access to an all-around approach to hydrocodone addiction treatment, such as medications, rehabilitation, and counseling. You will also get to be part of robust and friendly support groups. Contact us at Iris Healing® today to learn more.

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