How long does hydrocodone stay in your system?

Hydrocodone shows up on drug tests. And it can stay in the hair for up to 90 days. Learn more about the length of time hydrocodone stays in the body here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D.

Got mandatory or random drug testing for work or school coming up? We review half life, detection times and signs of hydrocodone problems here.

Half life of hydrocodone

The half-life of a 10 mg dose of hydrocodone is about 3.8 hours (± 0.3 hours). This means that it takes almost 4 hours for the body to process this amount of hydrocodone and eliminate half of its compounds from the system. Withdrawal symptoms from hydrocodone usually begin to manifest 6-12 hours after your last dose of hydrocodone.

Hydrocodone drug testing

Employers usually want to check for hydrocodone before employing you to ensure safety/drug free workers, to check after an on-site work accident, or to identify drug problems. Drug testing is not generally not looking for current impairment or drug use but for past use of pain meds like hydrocodone.

It takes only traces of hydrocodone or its metabolite to be present in the blood or urine for a hydrocodone drug test to be positive. This measure is known as a “cut-off level,” and some drug tests set a low cut off level to determine passive users and to decrease the chances of negative testing.

How long is hydrocodone in the system?

Drugs are eliminated from the system at different rates and thus detectable for different periods of time, often long after the drug’s effect has worn off. Hydrocodone has a certain “detection window”, which is the amount of time after ingestion during which evidence can be detected by a drug test.

Hydrocodone detection times are unknown for blood and sweat screens. However, hydrocodone can be present in the saliva 12 – 36 hours after last dose or 2 – 4 days in the urine. Hydrocodone is also present in the hair for up to 90 days after last dose.

Hydrocodone and addiction

Hydrocodone in often prescribed combination with at least one other medication and is used to relieve moderate to severe pain or to help relieve coughing. If you like the euphoric effect of hydrocodone, and take it for non medical reasons, it’s possible that you may be addicted to hydrocodone. This is because hydrocodone may be habit-forming, and you can develop both a physical and a psychological dependence on the medication. Here are some tips for taking hydrocodone and avoiding addiction:

  1. Call your doctor if you develop a strong desire to take more medication than prescribed.
  2. Do not crush, chew, snort or inject hydrocodone.
  3. Do not take a larger dose of hydrocodone.
  4. Do not take hydrocodone for a longer period of time than prescribed .
  5. Do not take hydrocodone more often than prescribed.
  6. Take hydrocodone exactly as your doctor describes.

Have a problem with Norco (hydrocodone) abuse and/or addiction? You don’t have to wait to get better. Get ready to seek help by learning what hydrocodone addiction is, how to find the best treatment options, what does rehabilitation entail, and more… in this guide on treatment programs and help for Norco addiction.

Reference sources: State of Hawaii drug testing info
American Society of Health System Pharmacists info on hydrocodone
Daily Med info on hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen
Reasons for drug testing in the workplace – SAMHSA publication
Department of Labor Workplace drug testing information
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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