How long does Vicodin last?

The effects of Vicodin last for about 4-6 hours. More on how long Vicodin stays in the body, as well the effects of taking Vicodin to get high here. More on Vicodin dosing and dangers.

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Vicodin lasts for about 4-6 hours. But Vicodin can stay in the body for a day or two after you take it. Read on for more about Vicodin’s duration of action, as well as Vicodin and euphoric high. Your questions about Vicodin are welcomed at the end.

Vicodin effects on the body and brain

Vicodin is a central nervous system depressant. As a pain reliever, Vicodin alters the body and brain’s responses to pain. How? Vicodin affects the body and can provide pain relief thanks to the way its main ingredient, hydrocodone, works on the central nervous system. So, Vicodin affects the body through the brain, so to speak. But what happens at a chemical level?

Hydrocodone works by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. As a result, hydrocodone can diminish the perception of pain. But hydrocodone can also cause a person to feel relaxed and euphoric by affecting areas of the brain that deal with what we perceive as pleasure.  What makes Vicodin addictive?  When taken to try to get high, or used long-term to control pain, Vicodin can become addictive because of hydrocodone’s strong reaction on the pleasure center of the brain.

Vicodin effects on the body can include:

  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and contentment
  • impaired coordination
  • lessened feelings of pain
  • nausea/vomiting
  • slowed or shallow breathing
  • slowed heart rate
  • stop coughing

Vicodin duration of action

Vicodin reaches its peak level in the blood after about 1.3 hours. And the half life for Vicodin in the typical adult is just under 4 hours. Depending on the person, Vicodin can last for 4-6 hours, more or less.

Vicodin time in the body

After more than a day or two, it’s unlikely that Vicodin will still be present in the blood. However, Vicodin will show up on urine screens for 1-2 days after last dosage (and even longer for chronic users), but can stay present in hair samples for 90 days or even longer.

How long do Vicodin effects last?

The effects of Vicodin last between 4 and 6 hours. Vicodin contains two medications to help relieve pain, the addictive opioid hydrocodone, and acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is not addictive, but can be dangerous to take in larger amounts that prescribed. Because of this, Vicodin needs to be only taken in the amount and frequency recommended by your doctor.

How long does a Vicodin high last?

Do people get high on Vicodin? Yes, but using Vicodin for non medical reasons or without a prescription is illegal.  A Vicodin high will last between 4-6 hours, since that’s how long it takes for the drug to be cleared from the human body. However, you may have to take higher or more frequent doses of Vicodin than would normally be prescribed to achieve a high. This kind of dosing is dangerous due to the low overdose threshold of acetaminophen. Taking large amounts of Vicodin to get high may result in liver damage.

Plus, mixing Vicodin and alcohol to get high has been thought to increase the duration or intensity of euphoric sensation. Instead, combining Vicodin with other depressants puts you at risk of slowed breathing and heart rate or losing consciousness and is never recommended.

Vicodin high effects

Vicodin’s pain-relieving effects can also have the side effect of causing a high. In fact, Vicodin acts on the limbic system, which controls emotions. As a result, opioids like Vicodin can produce feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and contentment. Some of these euphoric effects of Vicodin include:

  • drowsiness
  • extreme well being
  • heaviness
  • relaxation
  • numbness

Vicodin is addictive, so abusing it to get high does carry risks. A Vicodin addiction can result in powerful withdrawal symptoms, uncontrollable cravings for the drug, and compulsive use of the drug despite negative consequences. It can also cause long-term damage to the liver, and potentially death.

How long Vicodin lasts questions

Do you still have a question about how long Vicodin lasts? Please leave your questions and comments below. We will be happy to provide you with an personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: NIDA for Teens: Mind Over Matter: Opiates
DEA: Hydrocodone
Medline Plus: Hydrocodone
Toxnet: Hydrocodone
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.


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  1. I have taken 5 total in the last 5 days.. Narco 5 mg. I also took a 5mg Narco today ( Saturday) and i have a dr. Appointment on Wednesday. Will there still be some in my system?

  2. this reply is to Gary my wife is disabled she took and still has to take pain pill 3 time’s in the 14 year’s she got what they call knockdown pain where the more pain pill’s she take’s the more the pain would increase the only way to fix that is to detox your body my advice is every once in awhile stop for a day or two that is what a pain relief doctor told us and it seemed to work good luck buddy addition is no joke and the problem is the law can’t take it away if your name is on the bottle so it make’s it easy to become addicted

  3. I ‘ve been taking pain pill’s for 13 plus year’s I’m trying to get off them I’ve brought myself down from patches and oxycodone to 8 5-325 a day every 4 to 5 day’s I drop 250 milligrams is this a good plan and will it work for a determined person or should I cut less and take longer or can I cut the amount back faster it took about a year to get to this level I was told if you go cold turkey it could kill you is this true thankyou

  4. I have been taking Norco for several years. My current dosage incudes 600mg per day of hydrocodone. I first started taking it because of spinal stenosis. The first surgeon did a poor job and as a result I had another surgeon perform surgery. By this time, the nerves must have been damaged too much, so there wan no real relief. There was an original high from the Norco, but not to the point where I enjoyed it. I hate the feeling of being intoxicated or being high on drugs. Thus I take the drug only for pain relief. I am wondering if this will eventually become ineffective for the pain and am considering trying to eliminate the drug. I may need detox. I just saw TV today, that after taking the drug for a period of time, it actually increases the pain. If this is the case, I definitely want to eliminate it. I would welcome any advice.

  5. Hello Mary. I’d suggest that you consult with your prescribing doctor about this. There are blood tests and urine tests which can be used as markers for the kidneys and the liver. Depressed breathing is a side effect of hydrocodone and may resolve when you stop taking Vicodin. If you are concerned about lung capacity, there may be volume breath tests you can take. If you are concerned about lung damage, you may need an x-ray or scan. But check with a family doctor or general practitioner who will know more about which tests are required for measuring the health of your internal organs.

  6. I read this article but…. what i wanted to know is their any tests for lungs & liver to be tested for damage? Conserned about the breathing….. also cane these organs be repaired? Thank U!

  7. I have been taking vicoden es for a year or so. iam worried about the heavy breathing… Is their any way to get your breathing back to normal. Is there any tests for the lungs & liver? Thanks 🙂

  8. I have been taking vicodin for awhile now and it was prescribed for 4 a day. but I’m not on the prescription now and I take maybe the equivalent of 1 a day. I’m supposed to take a drug test within 24 hours for a job. Am I in trouble here or not?

    Thank you for your time,


  9. The letter states that they will be testing for all forms of narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, or other durgs whose use, possession or transfer is restricted or prohibited by law except for drugs prescribed by a physician or dentists and used according for which they were precribed. This will include a hair follicle that detects the presents of drugs of abuse up to 90 days prior of test.

    Hydrocodone Dectection Time article dated 3/14/12 stated:
    Hydrocodone detection time in hair
    Hydrocodone can be detected in hair. Hair testing for hydrocodone can usually uncover substance abuse that occurred several weeks before, a time frame during which urine tests will no longer be accurate.

    I just called the Human Resourses Dept. and turned the job down. They did not tell me when they hired me 10/4 that that was part of the process. I got this letter a week later 10/15 prior to my start date which is 10/22. I understand the consequences of being an addict but why was this bank not clear right from the begining? I wasted my time and their time.

  10. Hi Jake. Do you know what kind of panel you’ll be taking? Even hair tests need to single out specific types of drugs. The standard DOT 5 panel screens for the following, and Vicodin (hydrocodone) is not included here, but requires an “Extended Opioids” drug screen.

    Amphetamines (meth, speed, crank, ecstasy)
    THC (cannabinoids, marijuana, hash)
    Cocaine (coke, crack)
    Opiates (heroin, opium, codeine, morphine)
    Phencyclidine (PCP, angel dust)

  11. This job I got is going to do hair sample. Explain what they are going to see with doing hair tests? I may be OK if it was a urine test but a hair test? Please advise.

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