Hydrocodone detection times

Hydrocodone doesn’t stay in your system long. Blood and urine tests probably won’t pick up hydrocodone if it’s been several days since last use. More on the detection window and drug testing for hydrocodone here.

minute read

Hydrocodone is most likely to be found on a drug test if you’ve taken it within the last 24 hours. After that, the amounts in blood and urine are low enough that many labs won’t pick up on them.

Here, we’ll look more at how hydrocodone is metabolized and how it stays in various bodily systems. Keep in mind that hydrocodone narcotic addictive and can lead to side effects hydrocodone withdrawal, even when used as prescribed.

If you feel that you have lost control over your Norco use and drug seeking behavior, and want to get better…but you are worried about what happens when you finally seek help, you can learn more in this GUIDE on Norco (hydrocodone) addiction treatment programs and help. Your questions about hydrocodone use and detection are welcomed at the end.

Main hydrocodone uses

Hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone works by changing the way the body and brain respond to pain; it also affects the part of the brain that controls the coughing reflex, which is why it’s so useful in prescription cough syrups.

How do you take hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is usually administered in pill form, and is only available in combination with other non-narcotic painkillers. These include acetaminophen, and aspirin. Sometimes hydrocodone is used as an active ingredient in cough syrups. However, hydrocodone is usually taken orally, both for medical and illicit purposes. Many people may take hydrocodone in combination with alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous and raises the risk of serious adverse effects.  And you should always take hydrocodone as prescribed.  Can you die from hydrocodone?  Yes, especially when you take hydrocodone more often, in higher doses or in ways other than prescribed (snorting, inhaling, injecting, etc.)

Peak levels and half life of hydrocodone

The half life for hydrocodone in the typical adult is just under 4 hours. In fact, hydrocodone reaches its peak level in the blood after about 1.3 hours. The amount in someone’s system will vary on the kind of medication they’ve taken: hydrocodone as a painkiller or anti-tussive cough medication.

Hydrocodone drug testing detection times

Hydrocodone is metabolized fairly quickly in the body. It’s difficult to detect hydrocodone in someone who isn’t a heavy or habitual user, especially after 24 hours or more. However, hair sample testing may detect the drug hydrocodone for up to a few months after the last dose. More on the types of drug testing for hydrocodone here.

Hydrocodone detection time in blood

Because of its short half-life, hydrocodone is unlikely to be detected in the blood after about 24 hours. A blood test would mostly be useful in cases of medical emergency, impaired driving, or any other situation where there’s reason to believe someone is currently under the influence of hydrocodone.

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.

Hydrocodone detection time in urine

Hydrocodone reaches its peak concentration in urine after about 8 hours. At that point, levels of hydrocodone in urine begin to taper off. Depending on the dose taken, hydrocodone may only be detectable for 6-24 hours after taking the drug.

Hydrocodone and addiction

Like all opiate medications, hydrocodone is addictive. Hydrocodone addiction is characterized by drug craving, in spite of negative life consequences and even when the drug is out of your system. Even if you don’t get addicted to hydrocodone, users can easily develop a tolerance to hydrocodone, leading them to take hydrocodone in progressively larger doses to achieve original effect. Hydrocodone also fosters a physical dependence, even in people who are using it for legitimate medical reasons like pain management. People dependent on hydrocodone experience withdrawal when they lower dose or stop taking hydrocodone completely. Hydrocodone cannot be stopped abruptly without causing cravings and physical side effects and you should always detox from hydrocodone under medical supervision.

Problems with hydrocodone?

If you think that you have a problem with hydrocodone, you probably do. If you’re addicted to narcotics, there are support groups and medical treatments available to help. If you’re a patient with a hydrocodone prescription and you’re having to take large doses for pain relief, speak to your doctor about adjusting your dosage or trying a different medication. If you’ve developed and dependence on the drug, but want to quit, your doctor can help you slowly wean yourself from the drug.

Hydrocodone detection questions

Do you still have questions about the detection time for hydrocodone or how long hydrocodone stays in your system? Please leave your questions here. We try our best to answer all legitimate questions about hydrocodone with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: PubMed Health: Hydrocodone
Forensic drug testing for opiates

Wisconsin Crime Laboratory System: Toxicology
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.
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?