Saturday April 19th 2014

How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last?

Thinking about quitting hydrocodone?

Developing a dependence on hydrocodone is common and even expected by doctors.  Why is cutting back so difficult? What happens when you stop taking hydrocodone?  Hydrocodone affects the central nervous system and smooth muscle tissue and can changes the way we perceive pain and might induce a change in mood.  But this action, while efficient, can also cause us to experience withdrawal symptoms when we quit or cut back.

General onset of withdrawal symptoms occurs within a few hours after hydrocodone effects wear off. But is you’re asking, “Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms – how long?” know this: the length of time until withdrawal stops can vary from weeks to months later. More here about how long hydrocodone withdrawal lasts. And we invite your questions about hydrocodone withdrawal at the end.

How long until hydrocodone withdrawal starts?

Once you have decided to stop taking hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms can start as early as a few hours after the effect of hydrocodone has worn off. The most common symptoms of withdrawal from hydrocodone include:

  • cold sweat and chills
  • diarrhea
  • drug craving
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances
  • mental swings

How long do hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms last?

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal can last anywhere between a few days to several months after you last take hydrocodone. The harsher, acute effects of withdrawal should resolve within about a week after last dose. However, people have reported insomnia, mood swings, and drug cravings long after hydrocodone detox has occurred.

Hydrocodone withdrawal timeline

As mentioned earlier, hydrocodone affects people differently. Symptoms of withdrawing from hydrocodone will change from person to person. But in general, if you taking hydrocodone for medical reasons in doses as prescribed, symptoms of withdrawal tend to be less intense than someone abusing the medication or taking higher doses than prescribed. Note also that it can take days to weeks to completely remove hydrocodone from the system. It is important to note that because hydrocodone is an opioid, withdrawal symptoms can be delayed. Therefore, it may take several weeks to months to no longer feel the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

24-72 hours hydrocodone withdrawal – General onset of symptoms can manifest shortly after the drug has worn off and linger for up to a few months after the medication is totally out of the system. It is during this time and especially during the first 72 hours that withdrawal symptoms peaks, which include: mood changes, sweats, diarrhea, extreme drowsiness, stomach pains, and abnormal skin sensations as well as possible respiratory depression.

Week 1 hydrocodone withdrawal – In the first week after stopping hydrocodone, symptoms of withdrawal tend to be the worst. Symptoms from the first onset diminish a bit and even out. However, during this phase of withdrawal symptoms can include continued irritability, waves of intense craving, depression, and exhaustion.

Week 2 hydrocodone withdrawal – After the first couple of weeks of stopping hydrocodone, protracted withdrawal symptoms may arise. Symptoms such as diarrhea, mood swing, irritation, insomnia, muscle cramps and back aches can surface during this phase of withdrawal from hydrocodone.

Weeks 3-4 hydrocodone withdrawal – During this stage of withdrawal, waves of cravings and psychological dependence are still persistent.

PAWS for hydrocodone –  Post-Acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a set of symptoms that occur right after you stop taking hydrocodone and can last several months afterwards. Sleeping disturbance, irritability, and mood swings are typical of hydrocodone use and these symptoms can linger for weeks to months after your last dose of hydrocodone. Additionally, cravings for the drug can linger longer after you have stopped taking Hydrocodone. People suffering from hydrocodone addiction are encouraged to seek help in order to prevent relapse.

Hydrocodone withdrawal: how long?

Hydrocodone affects each person differently depending on the dosage and how long you have been taking hydrocodone. In other words, each withdrawal period is unique to the person taking hydrocodone. Additionally, various health concerns need to be taken into considration during hydrocodone detox. This is why experts always recommend medical supervision during any chemical or drug withdrawal.

How long hydrocodone withdrawal questions

Did we answer your question(s) about hydrocodone withdrawal here? If you have any more questions regarding withdrawal from Hydrocodone please ask. We do our best to respond to your questions personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: PubMed Health: Hydrocodone
Utah Department of Human Services: Opioids
Medline Plus: Opiate Withdrawal:

Photo credit: Matti Matilla

Leave a Reply

34 Responses to “How long does hydrocodone withdrawal last?
j goode
5:23 am January 1st, 2013

i have been snorting for years lortab, norco stop one week tomorrow just taking them by mouth. less then half what i usually take. my whole left side of my brain from my eyes past my back of my ears is a constant pain and pressure is this a withdrawl? Been taking ib 800 and headache pills no relief.

9:47 am January 14th, 2013

Hello j goode. Hmmm. Headaches can be indicators of many different conditions. Not restricted to withdrawal. It’s possible that the high doses of Lortab and Norco were blocking this pain for some time. I’d suggest that you consult with your family doctor first and then seek a referral to a diagnostic service, neurologist, or pain medicine specialist, if necessary. It’s important to diagnose strong headaches because it is a sign of real body stress.

C Pain
5:59 pm January 28th, 2013

I had a Total Knee Replacement 3 1/2 months ago. I was taking 2 pills every 4 hours for about 2 1/2 months. Then I tapered down to 2 every 6 hours for a couple weeks and for the past week I have been taking 1 pill at 10am and 2 pills at 8:30pm. The pills are 7.5 hydrocodone and 235 acetaminophen. A couple weeks ago, I tried going off them cold turkey and had very annoying restless knee symptoms and was just generally very irritable. I couldn’t sleep and so I took 2 in the middle of the night and a couple hours later was able to fall to sleep. Should I just quit taking the 3 a day or should I taper down to 2 and then 1 and then zero? It seems like my knee starts getting wiggly about 10 or 11am and seems to stop acting up after I have taken 1 tablet. Thanks for your advice.

2:27 pm January 29th, 2013

Hello C Pain. Tapering is always best when trying to stop taking opioids. Ask your prescribing doctor for a schedule, or consult with a pharmacist. The daily doses are tricky – 10% a day decrease, never more than 50% at once. But over the course of 2-3 weeks, you’ll have almost no hydrocodone in your system, making the transition to cold turkey 0 hydrocodone much, much easier.

3:18 am February 15th, 2013

I have been taking hydrocone 5/500 daily for 15 months. Ranging from one to 6 pills a day. I have averaged 3 day for the last two months, then went to 2 pills a day for 3 days, so Monday took 3 pills and then had to drop to 1/2 a pill a day on Tuesday bc I am about to run out and will NOT get a refill as i am tired of living this way. So Tues/Wed/Thurs (today) have only had a 1/2 pill. Only have one pill left, so will take 1/2 pill on Friday and then a half on Saturday. On Wednesday morning, I started to have chills and tearing of the eyes, hot flashes, then cold, and my legs hurt. Started coughing a lot last night. Called in sick to work today. However, my son recently had the same flu symptoms(within the past week) so I am wondering if i am truly experience withdrawal symptoms or am sick. Given my length of time and dosage of the pill, how long can I expect my symptoms to last? Just want to see light at the end of tunnel.

11:55 am February 15th, 2013

Hello Kansas. It sounds like withdrawal to me. Most time, withdrawal is provoked when you have a dose decrease of >50%, which is the case. Withdrawal generally peaks about 3 days after your last dose but can linger for a week to 10 days after cessation. If you’re not feeling better in a few days, perhaps be sure to get a throat culture to rule out bacterial infection and/or proceed to the doctor’s office to seek diagnosis. Best of luck!

ad lynn
3:51 pm February 19th, 2013

i have been on hydrocodone for a is my 5th day without them…i have had flu-like symptoms, body aches, mood changes, most of the withdrawal symptoms…i have had severe loss of appetite..when will i get an appetite back?

2:53 pm February 21st, 2013

Hi Ad Lynn. Thanks for your question. Most acute symtpoms of hydrocodone withdrawal such as changes in appetite resolve in the first week to 10 days after cessation. Often, the nausea and vomiting can precipitate this disinterest in food. But if the loss of appetite lingers much longer, I’d suggest that you check in with a physician to investigate further.

7:59 pm March 9th, 2013

Hi, I have been on Norco 10/325 for 21 years. Yeah, 21 years. It started long ago when I had a knee operation, and I Just finding doctors to refill the pills for me. Currently I was taking 4-5 pills per day. I decided last week to stop the pills because even I could see they were ruining my marriage and my life. The last pill was 4pm March 4th. Last week was a serious issue with withdrawal problems…chills , joint pain, RLS. Most of that is over, but I am now seeking Norco again. I do not want to get started on them ever again, but I am looking for help with the depression times when I grabbed a Norco to help get thru. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make it over the rough spots thru the day without starting back on the pills? I don’t want a substitute medication, I just need help for bad days, like today, when I would love to have a couple Norco. I work 6 days a week from 6am-6pm so I have to find something that will help while I am at work. Thanks, Andy

2:15 pm March 11th, 2013

Hello Andy. Right. Sounds like Norco became the go-to pick me up after some time. I’d suggest that you actually try a combination of lifestyle changes. Depression indicates a lack of energy. Regular exercise can help. As can talking with a mental health professional. The fact that you reach for a Norco when feeling down indicates a psychological factor to use. And the cravings you describe are characteristic of addiction. I’m not saying that you’re a Norco addict – just that you may be in the range of someone who can benefit from looking into the psycho-emotional elements of use. Does this ring true for you?

2:33 pm March 11th, 2013

I agree. Since the Norco no longer did anything for pain, the majority of use was to get past difficult times and stressful days. I blamed the lack of energy on the NORCO more so than depression. Since I have been off it for 162 hours I am still slow moving, but I am not sure how long it will take to get 21 years of the drug completely out of my system. I will see if I can find a local therapist who will assist me with the problems I currently face. I absolutely REFUSE to ever go back on that drug for any reason. I knew it was harmful, but the past 6 days of withdrawal were far more remindful of it’s harm. Thanks for your input!

2:20 am April 24th, 2013

I was taking hydro’s for 10 yrs..decided it was side started to hurt and i worried for my liver and kidneys.went to a hospital for 4 days for detox..which they use the methadone taper with librium for the anxiety and rls, Felt super good when i was out of hospital..for about 3 days..then all of a diareaha, and rls again..mood swings not at all, but loss of apetite. still not able to eat much..have to force trying to exercise as much as i can and keep busy to keep my mind off it…but to make matters worse..i have to live with someone who HAS to to take them…its tuff but im doing it..have tramadol if it gets too bad..pharmacist says not addictive…i hopehes right..also taking lots and lots of vitamins..praying for strength..but have it set in my mind im done with these little devils..

4:58 pm April 27th, 2013


7:58 pm April 29th, 2013

you obviously dont know…I will never go through this again!!! 10 yrs is too long. doctors for not warning you what it would be like to finally get off them…Shame on them!!

2:07 pm July 8th, 2013

got put on 7.5\500 hydros for tooth ache 3 weeks ago. I don’t like to take pills, but the pain was so bad i went ahead. ended up with dental surgery, continued with the pills. i decided two days ago my pain was manageable without the hydros so i switched to alieve. i couldn’t sleep last night. felt like i needed to crawl our of my skin! tossed and turned! today I’m feel just dry mouthed and super icky! a don’t touch me kind of way. can’t tell if i am going through a withdrawal after that short use, or if it’s something else? I’m very irritable!

11:15 am July 17th, 2013

Hello Venus. Yes, restlessness or a kind of crawling-out-of-your-skin feeling is one symptom of opioid withdrawal. Talk with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist on the phone to report the symptoms and work out a treatment strategy. OTC medications can help, exercise, etc.

Adrian Banales
2:41 pm September 3rd, 2013

I had a total knee replacement on 7/17/13 and began taking 10/325 Norco on 7/19/13. At about the 3 week mark I began to lose my appetite and was eating almost nothing at all except for some ensure drinks and an occasional soup and sandwich. I decided to stop taking the pill right around 8/26/13. I began cutting them in half until 8/29/13 where I completely stopped. Since that day I have not been able to sleep at all. I go to bed at about 10 or 11PM and don’t fall asleep until around 6AM. Last night (9/2/13) I tried going to sleep at 9:30PM and as of 7:34 this morning I have not slept at all. Can you please give me some advice as to what I should do at this point to help this major sleep problem. Thanks!

2:18 pm September 5th, 2013

Adrian, I was on Norco 10/325 for over 20 years straight. Mine started with knee pain as well. I finally got off of it in March and have not used it since. When I was going thru the first week of withdrawal, I could not sleep either. After 2 night of being wide awake, I went to the drugstore and got some Benadryl. At 10pm I took a dose of Benadryl, then I got into the shower and used the hottest water I could tolerate. I stayed under the running water for about 10 minutes to help the Benadryl flow and get my blood vessels opened up. It actually worked. I got out of the shower and went straight to bed and at least got 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I did this for the next 5 days, and by then the withdrawal symptoms were wearing off and I started to sleep without the Benadryl. I hope this helps. The first week is the WORST, then it gradually gets better. Hang in there! Andy

Adrian Banales
6:58 am September 16th, 2013

Thanks Andy. Its 9/15/13 at 11:47 PM. It’s been 17 days since I stopped taking Norco. I still can’t sleep. I’m taking Somnapure which is a natural sleep aid and I’m also taking two .5mg pills of Lorazepam. Even with these sleep aids , I’m still tossing and turning until about 3 AM. I wake up at about 8Am so I’m getting about 5 hours. I’m gonna try that hot shower with Benadryl tomorrow night. I can’t believe that six weeks of Norco screwed me up this bad. At least my appetite is almost back to normal. Thanks and the best wishes. Adrian

mr. cottonsurfer
4:09 am October 2nd, 2013

I has taking 5-7 tablets of hydrocodone 10 just to get out of bed. I continued to take 2-4 every few hours while I was awake. Drug withdrawl would happen during the night time and I would have to get up just to prevent it. From my experience slowly getting off hydrocodone when taking large amounts is not the best avenue. Increasing doses taken over time increases opiate receptors in the body. This is why when coming off the drug, tapering prolongs the withdrawl agony. Taking smaller amounts just tells the brain it wants more. The mind will induce it’s own pain to play tricks. Best plan of action is to come clean. Tell your doctor you would like to undergo detox under supervision. Get rid of other stashes around the house. Get support after you leave the facility.

10:14 pm November 10th, 2013

I have been in pain management 7 years for back and neck issues. I have been taking 3-4 10/325 a day. Tired of feeling tied to this script. I tapered off first 2 weeks by just taking 1 less a day. From there I took a 1\2 instead of 1 for a couple of weeks..then down to just one befor bed for a coup;e of weeks…then 1/2 before bed for a couple of weeks. I lived for that one half of a pill. It has been 4 days since ZERO. I have mild stomach crampsmost ofl the time, no energy and loose watery stool almost every time I go. I woke up the last two mornings, bad cramp in both calves. I felt sort of like I remembered my self to be before the tabs…each day seems a TINY bit better, at the gym every day still, just trying to get in a workout. But now on top of the w\d symptoms my pain is back for real. I just want to be the person I was 10 years ago..if I even remember who she was.

b curtis
8:57 pm November 13th, 2013

I am terrified of having a seizure or heart attack, but my doctor says I need to come off of lorcet plus. I have been on this rx for almost 9 years. what is the WORST that I can expect? i’m doing this cold turkey, on my own.

12:36 pm November 14th, 2013

Hello B Curtis. Why cold turkey? A slow taper minimizes risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. Check out these related articles for more:

6:22 pm December 5th, 2013

Try being on them for 6 weeks just 2 a day for an infected tooth and a surgery on the gum line……. Man Ive been off them for 10 days still have the craving for one…….this drug is terrible and I never knew how addictive they were but Im busting cold turkey on it and will beat it……….

1:21 pm December 6th, 2013

Hello John. Peace and power to you. You are not alone!

4:16 pm January 4th, 2014

i have been snorting loratabs for over 3 years now and my new years resolution was to stop. i am on day 6 and i will tell you it has not been easy, i have had panic attacks, trouble breathing, along with aches and pains of flu like symptoms. my head has suffered horrible headaches more of a migrane mixed with sinus pressure but i have made my mind up that im not gonna let this pill run my life anymore. my head still feels droggy and first few days i felt like i wanted out of my body like a paranoia yes snorting does mess with u just as bad as orally and maybe even worse. please dont let anyone tell u different i am here in the now my mind after 6 days still says u snort a tab u will be fine. not so i want a clear head and im still not there. i started snorting a half a day and before i knew it was nothing to do 5 a day. my husband takes orally and wouldnt do half of what i did because when u snort u get a rush or immidiate high and before long u will chase for that feeling again like a cocaine addiction

2:55 pm January 19th, 2014

This is day 7 for me & my legs are ache, & ive had 0 sleep……how long will these symptoms last? What to take or do for the pain im feeling????

5:28 pm January 22nd, 2014

I found this site while lying in bed wide awake all night for the 3-4 night dealing with withdrawals.. Maybe getting a couple hours sleep at the most. I started taking my wife’s oxycodone 10/325. I would take the pills every once in a while, but then started taking them every day. Like Andy did. I would take them for the stressful days and times. Then I ended up getting my own script for hydrocodone 10/500. Starting with 60 a month then 90 onto 120 a month, and would always run out before the next month. I had back pain but the crazy thing is that it seemed that my back hurts alot worse while taking these meds. I would take up to 8 every day. Then I learned that the maximum dose Tylenol that can be taken in a 24 hour period is 4000mg. Anything over can cause severe liver damage even death. So I ask for the 10-325 and the doctor cut me back to 90. Then ran out in two weeks. I have now decided that this is ridiculous to have this pill control my life. It has become a major distraction and they don’t even make me feel as good anymore. I just took them to stop the withdrawal symptoms so I can feel normal and get some sleep. I tried to taper off before but it didn’t seem to help. I am now on day 4 and have insomnia, pain in my legs and am irritable. I’m going to try the benadryl thing that Andy posted. I hope that I can kick this. I would like to be in control again. I can’t imagine having to keep this lifestyle up for much longer.

5:06 pm February 3rd, 2014

I take one a day..and that’s it. I am on 7.5 325 of Liquid Hydrocodone/APAP…I still feel the effects..and when the hydro wears off after that 6 hours, I get chills and the shakes and my teeth chatter for 10 minutes…

1:39 am February 12th, 2014

I have been taking Hydrocodone 10/325 for about a year now i ran out 2 days ago this is my second day of withdrawl i have the craps im sweating some i dont have rls its my arm drivinv me crazy i cant hardly sleep and im kinda moody i have kids and need to get better for them i dont have money to go to a Dr what can i do ar

10:11 pm March 12th, 2014

My reg doc has had me on hydros since 09. He recently sent me to a pain specialist who put needles in my spine. The PS gave a Rx of ibprofin equivalent to 4 reg ibprofin… I am in more pain now than before. Should I go back to my reg doc to be weaned off of these? I am suffering a migraine, sweats, chills, fever, sick to my stomach, among other things and it hasn’t even been 24 hrs yet. I can’t tolerate pain like most, I’m very sensitive to pain like I am having!

5:36 am March 20th, 2014

OK I’m ashamed as you’ll read later, I have been taking norco 5/325 up to 20 a day for the last 3 years. I got to day 4 and just couldn’t do it anymore. I know why did I go so far then stop! Well to be honest, I can handle the leg pain and the rest of the job I gotta do, EXCEPT the high fever over 101 degrees and no sleep for 3 nights 4 days. NONE at all, I feel i wanna crash but cant. How do I stop the fever and the no sleep because of it and the leg pain that also keeps me up. I have always have a high tolerance for pain but just can’t shake it. I am in the criminal justice field and where I live I will loose my job and never be able to serve ever again, so rehab or telling the doctor is out of the question. I have tried, IB-Profin, Tylenol, and z-quill. WHAT CAN I DO TO SHAKE THIS????? Please help.

12:21 pm March 20th, 2014

Hello Randy. Insomnia and increased temperature are two common symptoms experienced during opioid withdrawal. Muscle cramps and restlessness are also common. But other than avoiding cold turkey through a slow taper, you’d have to consult a detox clinic in order to figure out how they would treat these symptoms. The insomnia should resolve within a few days of last use, but the discomfort can remain for weeks, especially after long term use. Can you phone a local detox clinic or walk in at least for an initial consult?

4:02 pm April 12th, 2014

I have recently stopped taking hydros going into my second wk tomorrow I had a shot in my back because of a ruptured disc which causes a lot of pain in my legs I know its a lot harder to stop cold turkey which is what I did but the pain is almost unbearable I was wondering if I took maybe a half of a hydro will it throw me right back into withdrawal im just trying to find some kind of relief it’s worse when I sit down the dr says thats because of the pressure on my back I have went a wk with nothing so I was wondering if it would be a real big deal to take a little just to take the edge off please help!

Leave a Reply