Vicodin half life: how long does Vicodin remain in your body?

Doctors agree that the half life of Vicodin is around 4 hours. But how long does Vicodin remain in your body after its effects wear off? Learn more about Vicodin half life for drug testing here. Or check out the simple criteria for Vicodin addiction to know if you are a Vicodin addict, or not.

minute read
Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Vicodin is a short acting opioid analgesic, which means that you can feel the effects of Vicodin quickly (within 30 minutes to 1 hour of taking it) but effects do not last very long. In fact, pain-relieving effects of Vicodin tend to peak at around 2 hours and only last for 4-8 hours. Still, Vicodin can be detected for 2-4 days on most drug tests and up to 3 months or more in hair samples. More here.

Table Of Contents:

How Do You Take Vicodin?

Vicodin is the brand name combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, which is an over-the-counter pain reliever, commonly sold under the brand name Tylenol. Vicodin typically relieves pain for up to six hours, and medical professionals often prescribe this pain reliever for patients after surgery.

Vicodin is mainly administered as a tablet in doses of 5 mg hydrocodone / 500 mg acetaminophen ratios or as a liquid syrup containing 2.5 mg hydrocodone and 167 mg acetaminophen per 5 ml. Doctors usually prescribe and supervise doses of 5 – 10 mg hydrocodone every 4-6 hours. However, dosing varies by doctor and by individual case.


Addictive Potential

Like any opioid pain medication, Vicodin can be both physically and psychologically addictive, and some patients build a tolerance to it. That’s why Vicodin is classified as a Schedule II narcotic by the Controlled Substances Act effective since 1971. It was recently bumped up from a Schedule III drug to Schedule II as a way to stop misuse. [1]

Has it helped?

Dr. Nora Volkow, M.D. presented this testimony to Congress in 2014 to address America’s problem with Vicodin. She stated that the number of prescriptions for opioids increased from around 76 million in 1991 to nearly 207 million in 2013. Further, the United States is the biggest consumer globally of hydrocodone, accounting for almost 100 percent of the world total for medicines like Vicodin. [2] Even more, this 2012 article published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology speaks to the popularity of Vicodin [3]:

At a national level, hydrocodone and oxycodone are the most frequently prescribed opioid analgesics and have the highest level of abuse of any prescription medication.

Just know that Vicodin is extremely addictive! And read the paragraphs at the end of this article to evaluate your risk of a problem.

Physical Dependence

How long it takes to become physically dependent on Vicodin varies with each person. Generally, dependence develops after daily dosing rather quickly: within a few weeks of starting to take Vicodin. When a Vicodin-dependent person stops taking the drug, the body needs time to recover. This causes withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from opiates can occur any time long-term use is stopped or cut back.

Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Increased tearing.
  • Insomnia.
  • Runny nose.
  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.

Late symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Goose bumps.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

While these are not signals of addiction in and other themselves…withdrawal can indicate that you may have a harder time getting off Vicodin than you thought.

Peak Effect, Peak Levels, & Half-Life

Peak effect of Vicodin occurs within 30 minutes to 1 hour of taking it orally. In terms of effect, Vicodin is a short acting opioid analgesic, which means that you can feel the effects quickly, but they do not last long. In fact, pain-relieving effects of Vicodin tend to peak at around 2 hours and only last for 4-8 hours. You can compare the peak effect of Vicodin with other common pain medications on this State of Texas opioid comparison chart here. [4]

Peak levels measured in the blood after oral consumption of a single 10-mg dose of hydrocodone in men averaged a concentration of 23.6 ng/mL and occurred after 1.3 hours.


The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for half of the dose to be eliminated from the bloodstream. In medical terms, the half-life is the time it takes for the plasma concentration of a drug to reach half of its original concentration.

On average, most doctors agree that the half-life of Vicodin is 4 hours.

As a result, half-life can influence drug testing and the detection window of opioids like Vicodin. The main factors that affect the half-life of Vicodin include:

Body mass/body fat content: Long-term, heavy use of Vicodin can cause the opioid to be stored in fatty tissue, keeping traces of the drug in the body for even longer periods of time. The more body fat a user has, the more hydrocodone will be absorbed, especially if the liver is already damaged and the body’s metabolism has become compromised.

Diet: Healthy eating and a balanced diet can help you rid Vicodin of your system faster.

Dosage: The amount of Vicodin take will add up. People who use Vicodin sparingly will have a small amount of hydrocodone in their system, while people who use it regularly will have a larger amount for longer periods of time.

Exercise: Exercising or any type of physical activity, boosts your metabolism and cardiovascular system, affecting how long drugs stay in your system.

Hydration: Drinking water can dilute urine, making the concentration of drug molecules lower and harder to detect.

Metabolism: The rate of metabolism varies greatly from person to person. The quicker your metabolism, the faster the drug residue will leave your organisms. Your metabolism is dependent on your age, sex, and other genetic predispositions and environmental factors.

Overall health: If you have liver issues or damage, you can have problems metabolizing Vicodin, which means the drug will stay in your system much longer. You may test positive for weeks after Vicodin intake.

Testing date: The longer you wait to be tested, the lower the chances are Vicodin will show up.

Use of other medications or drugs: The past or present use of other substances can affect how long Vicodin stays in your system. Interactions between different substances can also take place in your body.

Drug Testing For Vicodin

Before you undergo a clinical drug test, your health care provider will usually perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history and drug use. The most common drug tests used today require samples of urine, saliva, or hair. The standard opioid assay cutoff level of 300 ng/ml is the concentration cutoff used to define a positive or negative test for Vicodin.

Other medical testing can also follow a Vicodin drug test and will depend on your doctor’s concern about other problems. Many people who use Vicodin can also have other medical problems. Therefore, additional tests may include: blood chemistries and liver function tests such as CHEM-20, CBC (complete blood count, measures red and white blood cells, and platelets, which help blood to clot), chest x-rays, EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing) reading, and/or testing for hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis.

Urine Sample Tests

The most common way to detect Vicodin is via urine sample. It is a painless and simple way to test what is in your system. Vicodin can be detected in the urine 2-4 days after you take it. If you are planning to take a drug test for Vicodin, know that approximation relies on variables such as drug metabolism, your physical condition, fluid intake, as well as the method and frequency of use of Vicodin.

Blood Sample Test

This is not the recommended test to detect Vicodin use.

Saliva Testing

This is the most convenient way to test for immediate Vicodin use. Salvia testing must be done in the days directly after use, preferably between 12 and 36 hours after last use. Before 12 hours, Vicodin will not be detectable, and after 36 hours, traces of Vicodin will be gone.

Hair Sample Test

Testing a hair sample is the most reliable way to test the body for drugs. This is because traces of drugs stay in your hair follicles for up to 90 days after use. However, in the case of detecting the ingredient hydrocodone, it can take 10 days for a hair sample to show the drug. For immediate testing results, salvia and urine are the most appropriate.

Problems With Vicodin?

Vicodin is highly addictive (hydrocodone addictive potential) and is classified as a Schedule III drug by the DEA. But how can you know if you have a problem, or not? You may have a problem with Vicodin if:

  • You try quitting but can’t stay quit.
  • You crave it.
  • You take it, in spite of harm to your health, relationships, work, or finances.
  • Vicodin is the most important thing in your life.

See these online drug and alcohol assessment review here to ask yourself questions about possible Vicodin addiction. Always follow up and self-survey with a visit to the doctor’s office. Only a medical professional can diagnose problems with psychoactive drugs. These include certified practitioners like:

  1. Addiction counselors
  2. Any medical doctor
  3. Clinical Social Workers
  4. Psychiatrists
  5. Psychologists

Still think you have a problem and don’t know what to do? Reach out for help and call us on the hotline number listed on this page. Or leave us your comments and questions. We respond to every email or question in a comment or video.

Reference Sources: [1] DEA: The Controlled Substances Act
[2] NIH: Prescription Drugs And Heroin Abuse
[3] NCBI: Likeability And Abuse Liability Of Common Use Opioids
[4] HHS: Onset, Peak And Duration Of Common Pain Medications
CDC: Prescription Opioids
DEA: Drug Scheduling
DEA: Re-Scheduling Prescription Hydrocodone Combination Products
FDA: Drug Safety
MEDLINE PLUS: Hydrocodone Combination Products
NIH: Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen
PUBCHEM: Hydrocodone
SAMHSA: Oxycodone And Hydrocodone: Detection In Urine, Oral Fluid, And Blood
TOXINET: 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.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...
Dr. Goecke is a medical doctor and general surgeon with personal experience of...

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


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  1. I have had a total knee replacement and then I was assaulted and had the knee re-injured Because of this re-injury I am not getting enough pain relief from the Hydrocodone that I am taking for my back problems. Hydrocodone is good for moderate to severe pain but this is way up there on the scale, and the pain clinic knows about it, but I have had to take 5 to 6 10 mg tabs of Hydrocodone for a few days now, as I was waiting to go to the pain clinic for the monthly check up. I am not due for a drug test but it is possible that they may give one as it is the first month of the year or whatever, I am hoping they will not know that I have taken it on myself to take more than the 4 pills that are prescribed. It could not be helped, as I could not get in touch with the people at the pain clinic to get permission with the holidays and all that, and they are notorious for not returning calls when you leave a message. I do not know what i would do if I had to just do without the pain meds, my quality of life is not that good right now to tell the truth. I see that today I will have to take 6 pills before the day is over, so that is two pills too much, I am wondering if they will be able to tell with a standard urine test how many pills I have taken today if they test me the day after tomorrow. I hope someone will send me an email if there is a moderator or someone with the medical knowledge to tell me what to expect. I have done nothing they have not given me permission to do before, as I have had extra pain with this knee and they know about it, I am only concerned that I did this without calling them.

  2. I am prescribed hydrocodone 10mg along with many other medications. One other pain medication and 2 anti depression meds and then others for my other heath issues. I was born with a severe genetic spinal disease and have had 6 spinal surgeries. I suffer from chronic pain and have been undefined the care of a pain clinic for years. I love my doctor but he retired and now I have been assigned a new physician. I suffer from depression and also when my pain is over the top I need to lie down to take care the pressure off my spine and pelvis. The pain does cause exhaustion as well. Point is if I sleep for long periods I miss dose of hydrocodone. I had my first appointment with my new pain doctor and did the urine tests. I tested positive for one of my pain most but not for hydrocodone. However, I did take hydrocodone 1x the day before and 1x the previous day prior to that. All the data states that hydrocodone should stay in the system between 2 to 4 days. So what happened??? I want the test to come back positive. The doctor told me he is going to take my urine sample to be retested in another lab a other way. What I want to know is, I have read about another type of urine tests to detect hydrocodone and opiates but is it truly more sophisticated. I’m frustrated because I did take the drug just not that day and even if it was even 24 hours prior to the appointment data says that it should be in your system for 2 to 4 days. Can someone please help me??? I need to stay in this program. It ichi hard enough live as it is. It is difficult horse my family to watch me in my condition I don’t want to be more of a problem or burden to them. So confused and worried!!! Please help. Thanks a million!!!

  3. I took one hydrocodone on Tuesday just one I have a bad tooth that I need a root canal on. I have to take a drug test on Sunday at a lab will I pass tbe test? I only took one I am 5″5 and 141 lbs

  4. I want to go off the vicoden I admit it’s too long I have been on it. I see my neurologist on Wednesday. Any advice or questions I should ask him

  5. After taking vicdion ( 10/325 ) for years ….. started from painful knee injury, then just taking them to feel normal ( ha )
    With over 200 pills left , l decided health must come first . Listen to me please…… Save yourself before its too late ….. Those little yellow pills are killing you ……
    Weened down to .5 in the am and .5 around 6 PM ….. Day 4 not so bad …… I know I will never use again …. mind over matter

  6. I failed two urine tests ,7.5 doctor will give me ,,,5.0 how do I test POSITIVE​ for urine test dosage twice a day

    1. Hi Sheryl. Your body needs time to build up Vicodin amount in your body. However, some food or medications you consume, may interact with building Vicodin amount in your body. Sometimes drinking too many fluids before taking a urine drug test can reduce the final concentration of a prescription medication or its metabolites per milliliter. If you want to learn more about false negative, I suggest that you download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide to Drug testing’ here:

  7. I tritated off vicodin two weeks.. I was on 10 325 for a few years. I was prescribed up to 4 times a day. So I cut them in half to 5mg and did that for a week and a day and then stopped.To be honest I am sure I had been on them long enough that they were not as effective as in the beginning of my treatment. But I did not want to go to percocet I think I handled the initial withdrawal pretty well. However I think I am still having symptoms of withdrawl. I am having some sleeping difficulties and at times hot flashes and lots of pain. I have fibromayalgia and have had for years before it was a dumping ground. So how much of the pain is still related to withdrawl? I know I was dependant but did not have addict behavior or mentality. I had a pain contract with my doctor and adhered to it. The reason I went off was the doctors are not willing to write any more. I was with an internest and when he decicded to not write any more I went to a pain specialist. On my first visit to her she said she did not use pain pills to treat fibro. So thats when I went off. So does this mean I can never take a pain pill again without going through withdrawl again? Thanks in advance for your answer.

  8. Iam taking 3 hydrocodone a day,10/325,and my urine is testing negative for the medications,how is this possible,Is this possible? Please anyone

    1. Hi Tina. Do you use medications for high blood pressure and diuretics? These so called water pills may cause the test came up negative. Also, there are other medication that may cause the same problem. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to resolve this issue. Moreover, download our free e-book to learn more about drug testing and how come some tests came up false negative/positive:

  9. Hey I took one Vicodin on Friday I had to drug test for a job on Monday will I be ok it only 5 I was in so much back pain from a slip disk

  10. My mom took 3 tablets, one each 6 hours apart, after the third time she started vomiting, 18 hours later and no more taken, she still has an upset stomach, could this still be Vicodin related, or coincidence?

  11. Can a person on low doses of vicodin over dose. I know someone that takes the 5mg but abuses it. He gets 180 pills a month but goes through it within 2 in a half weeks. His doctor knows about it but I am told don’t worry about it. I know he is addicted to this medicine. He has been on it for about 2 years since he had back surgery. I am concern about his health please send me some answers


  12. I took a single 10 mg of Vicodin for a span of 4 days. Breaking them up and figure of withdrawals. My last piece of dolls was on Tuesday at 6 o’clock in the morning before work, I had to take a drug test on Friday at 2 PM for a new job working for the electricians union. With that have given me enough time for it to not come up on my drug test

  13. I understand Vicodan can be addictive however, I believe it depends on the person.. I took Vicodan for many years for break through pain. I’ve never felt a so called rush or anything of that nature. I can go days, weeks and months without lVicodan because I take it only when the pain is so bad I cannot deal with it. I think more time and research needs to be done to prove that sometimes mistakes are made in assuming that everyone is the same when using pain medication. No two people are the same. Drugs effect people in many different ways. Someone needs to go to the for front and take a stance so it stops. Because of people’s addiction I am paying the price for all the bullshit of simply trying to get medication to help my chronic pain.

  14. i took 3 hydrocodone 7.5mg Friday at 3pm and took a drug screen for probation that following mondat at 3pm. what are the odds i will pass. i drank alot of fluids that weekend

  15. I just started rehab I am addicted to pain killers I haven’t taken a pain pills for 7 days I’m on suboxone thru rehab I am to take a urine test tomorrow the only they want in my urine is the suboxone will I be OK.. should the Vicodin be out if my system I took like 4 or 5 norco 5/325 over a 3 day period before I stopped 7 days ago will it show in a drug screen urine test

  16. I have a question,I took 5 hydrocodone 5mg today which is Friday and could possibly get a urine test Monday, I haven’t taken them for 6 years prior to tonight by the way. What are the chances of passing it? And I weigh about 135 pounds

  17. I took my last Vicodin on the 8th of this month. I was in the hospital for 2 dsys and by iv I was given a small dose of morphine for cgest psiny 3times. I also took fiorect in the hospital and 2 ativan all in the same hospital stay. I got out ,3 dsys sgo. I have a urine test coming on the 29th. It’s just a standard it in the drs office. I will be telling him all this, just want to know if it will show up in the ut test.

  18. I took a drug test at Doctor and my Vicodin level was 4,000, 3 months later it was 152 and 3 months after that 52. I had bariatric surgery and was loosing weight rapidly, 110 pounds. I asked if that effected it and he said no. I know BP have a low absorption rate. I was taking my pills the exact same, I need them for pain! Now he said since my levels went down he will not prescribe them to me anymore! What can I do?

  19. What if you took half a vicotin on Monday at 2:00 pm and took urine drug test on Tuesday the next day around the same time. Don’t normally use the pill

  20. I am on a pain management with Vicodin. I take it four times a day. I also take adirol for ADHD. When I went in for my piss test it came up that I was on nothing. Why could this happen

    1. Hi Jamie. Actually, urine tests come back clean for many people who are taking the recommended doses of their medication as prescribed. You can ask for another urine test or a hair follicle test (which will be far more accurate)

  21. If u take a 10mg vicodin and only taken that will it show up in a UA 38hrs later… If your active and have high metabolism as well as high liguid in take

  22. I’m sorry, I hit the wrong key and sent it before I finished. I have always had a problem with feeling that even with 4x day dosing of the Norco, I get very little relief. One physician said that due to the Gastric bypass procedure that I may not be absorbing enough of the medication. The psychiatrist also determined that I required higher doses of my antidepressants before they became effective which is probably due to the problems I have with metabolizing meds and absorption. My meds were due today for my monthly refills. I took my last Norco at 5:30 am on Apr. 12. I had to wait until today (4/13) to pick up my refills. This meant I only had one dose yesterday. When I got to the Dr. office to pick up my scripts, I was routed to the lab for a urine drug test for opiates and amphetamines. I would assume I would test positive for both. When I asked why they would do a urine screen knowing that I would test positive, I was told that the concern is that a patient would test negative for the opiates. I was told that if I tested negative it would indicate that I was not taking the medication as prescribed and that it is a way to tell if a patient is giving away or selling their meds. UNREAL!! What are the chances that I will test negative since it was over 36 hours since I had taken a dose of the Norco? Is it possible with the mal-absorption and metabolism issues that I could possibly test negative? Most people are concerned they will test positive for a drug test, and now I am worried I will test negative. This is crazy. I have also been taking antibiotics for dental issues. Due to some major dental work I have to be on them frequently as I have cardiac implants and require them with each dental visit. Can antibiotics affect the drug screen result? . Should it come up negative, is there a test I should insist they do to prove that I have been taking my meds as prescribed and not giving them away or selling them. I wouldn’t part with my meds as they already barely touch the pain I have. Thank you for any advice you can give.

  23. I am 64 yrs old and suffer chronic abdominal pain X 10 yrs from a botched gastric bypass. Two years ago I was hit from behind in the car. I have been on Norco 10/325mg four times daily. I am also on Celexa, Wellbutrin and Adderall for major depression which started after my children were killed in a tragic plane crash. The Adderall was added about a year ago for treatment resistant depression and it has been an absolutely miracle medication combination for me. Since Norco recently became a scheduled II med, my physician’s group requires their patients to sign a “contract” that states they will only get their prescriptions from one doctor and use the same pharmacy for all meds and be subject to random urine drug screens. I didn’t understand why the urine drug screens as of course I would test positive for both opiates and amphetamines (from the Adderall)

  24. I took 12 5 mg vicodin between Monday and Tuesday, then on Wednesday and Thursday took 8 7.5 mg vicodin, and have not taken anything since how long will this show up on a saliva drug test??

  25. I am rehabing from a two year script of hydrocodone three 5mg a day. How long does it take to be able to eat without this taste in your mouth?

  26. What if ur prescribed vicodin and take 2 or 3 5mg pills a day? Can u build up toxins that can kill u? I dont want to continue taking it if so.

  27. I have taken 1 vicodin daily pretty much for 18 years for back pain. How hard on my liver is this? I have my enzyme levels tested 2x a year and my liver seems to be fine. Are there other tests I should take?

  28. My doctor noted that for extrem pain, you don’t get addicted to Hydrocodone. And he is right!. I was on Hydrocodone, not sure if it was 5 or 10 mg 4 times a day for about a year as a spinal cord injury patient and the constipation was so bad that I just quit cold turkey and never had a desire for thm at all. That was 7 years ago. Now I’m on hydrocodone for the rest of my life due to another vertabrae fusion and do notice a reduction in perceived half life, so I must be addicted(or just PO’d that I’m a cripple and want to live totally pain free) while before I rigidly followed the regimein to a T… one pill every 6 hours. 10 mg’s. But it works. I live in CA and am going to get a legal prescription for MJ to help reduce the nerve pain. Any comments about that?.. Everytime I take MJ I just get stoned like I’ve had 6 beers. Eat it in food instead?

  29. I took 3 325/10 hydrocodone pills Thursday afternoon…I have the possibility of a probation urine test on the following Monday at 1pm..what are the chances of passing it?

  30. I have a drug test for a job interview Thursday I took I/2 of a hydrocodone/acetaminophen on Tuesday evening around 8 pm should I worry about passing I am a heavy coffee and greentea drinker

  31. I was tested by my pain management doctor to c if I am taking my Meds. He said it hadn’t been in my body for 7 days. I am talking about norco. I hadn’t had it for 2 days and I told him. How and is it possible to determine I hadn’t had it for 7 days?
    Impossible, how can that happen?
    How can it possibly be a false negative??? What happened? What could have happened?

  32. I take half of hydrocodone 5-500 for sore pain in my arm and wrist. att 9 am and have pees test because report the injured and have test at will show in my test .I was prescribe for polip surgery dicember 2013. then to aliviate the pain took Half today. today is 21 august 2014
    also taking prenidsone and and amox-clav 875 mg. advair and Tylenol.that will show in my test.

  33. How long does is actually stay INSIDE of your body Im talking about sweat wise, head hair wise, urine wise, and of course blood wise ?????

  34. I have a severe spinal condition….lots of continuios pain….i am rx’d 4-6 daily of 10/325- but i feel “out of it” and it stops the pain but I quit and only use 1/2 tabs 3 x daily. My proplem is that I replace the vicidon with alchol (Vodka)and get relief…..i am not looking for “high” but just relief butt i feel i am self medicating and and am going into alcoholism but controlled (3-4 drinks daily) what is my best recoursse? Pain will turn an educated person into an addict and I worry….about the long term…trying to keep it all together….I have had do consequenses….advise pleqase

  35. I have a question I hang my head as I write this I am a recovering opoid addict I have been clean for almost 3 yrs after taking 20 10/500 hydros daily I decided I wanted to get clean I started o suboxone and than last year was changed to subutex I did aomwthing I told myself I never wanted to do I ran out two days early from my subutex and on the 2nd day I started withdrawls I couldnt hamdle it and took one tab I have a drug test monday morning at 11 am today is saturday at 1130 I took tje pill at 3am this morning will it ahow up ??? I plan on telling my addictions doctor but im still scared he will kick me out of the program all my test for the past year have been negative will thia one pill ashow up

  36. I took 20 mg hydrocodone per day for 5 days straight. If I my last dose was a Tuesday night, by Tuesday morning of the following week would it be out of my system for an extended drug test? That’s almost 7 full calendar days.

  37. Why do they put acetaminophen in Vicodin since IT IS SO DANGEROUS!!! It seems they would rather have people DEAD then possibly addicted to Vicodin!!!

  38. Hi Shelly. Yes, you can see the results if you order the test. Go to a local SAMHSA accredited laboratory and ask for an “Extended Opioids” test for your son. This should do the trick, as the detection window is about 2 days after ingestion for one-time use.

  39. If my son took a half of vicodin. (I’m sure he did) and I give him a at home drug test 4 hours later will it show? There is a place also that I can take him to get tested should I take him there and they can tell me?

  40. I am prescribed norco 10/325 for chronic back pains and such and randomly drug tested for work. Now I’ve heard that hydrocodone tests positive for opiates and wanted to know what happens if i get tested. Will the lab call me and ask for my script number and doctor and will they release that to my company or does it not show up etc.

  41. Hi Ryan. Yes, a six (6) day window between use and screening is probably enough time for hydrocodone to pass through your system and go undetected in a urine sample. Also, most standard panel screens do not test for “extended opioids” like hydrocodone….yet. Usually, a urine sample is separated and sealed off to test for opioids like hydrocodone, as it does not metabolize into the same metabolites as opiates like heroin, morphine or codeine.

  42. hey, I took a about 7 vicodin 5/500 over a three day period, I had 5-6 days after that between taking them and a urine test. is 6 days enough
    too be sure im clean?

  43. Hi Don. Thanks for your questions. Psychoactive drugs generally stop “working” due to the effect of tolerance. When you body becomes tolerant to a drug, you need higher or more frequent doses to achieve the same therapeutic effect. Valium can stay in the body for weeks after last dose. Oxycodone can stay in the body (and be detected in a urinalysis) for a few days after last dose. Check out our articles on this here:

  44. Hi Shelley. Firstly: Are they resting you for “Extended Opiates/Opioids”? Confirm the type of test, because hydrocodone typically does not show up in a straightforward “Opiate” test.

  45. Hi there! I go to outpatient treatment at a Methadone clinic and am also prescribed 10mg Vicodin by my pain doctor. The Methadone clinic UA’s me once a month and the Vicodin is not showing up in my UA’s, when I’ve taken it the night before (about 12 hours before my UA). So the clinic thinks Im doing other things with my meds. What is the shortest time period for Vicodin to not show up on a UA?

  46. Hi Irish Girl. It really depends on whether or not “Extended Opiates” are included in the 10 panel drug screen, or not. If not, she’s OK. If “Extended Opiates” are included in the 10 panel drug screen, the hydrocodone found in Vicodin may be detected.

  47. Wow, what a great thread! My aunt took a quarter of a (5/500) Vicodin pill this afternoon two hours ago, after some shoulder pain came back. She’s in her early 60’s and thin. Now she found out a few minutes agao that she needs to get a 10-panel pre-placement screen for a new job, tomorrow, at 10 am. She’s very upset thinking it could cause her to miss a job opportunity, and she’s not a regular Vicodin user. I really don’t think she has much to worry about, since it was a quarter of the pill, but now she’s nervous. Any thoughts?

  48. Hi Beth. Do you know if the drug test includes “Extended Opiates” or not? Many standard “Opiates” screens don’t tend to detect hydrocodone. IF hydrocodone does show up, the levels may be less precise than a more specific drug screen for hydrocodone. However, the levels may be enough for a Medical Review Officer to rule that you’ve been taking Vicodin other than prescribed. It really depends on the type of test you’re given.

    Please let us know how it goes for you.

    As a sidenote, I’d suggest that you meet with your prescribing doctor ASAP and talk about an alternative to your current meds (if they’re not working) if you need more pain relief for a chronic condition. If the condition is acute, I hope that you’re feeling better now!

  49. I have a drug test Tuesday for nursing school, today is Friday, I have a rx for Lortab 10/500 but I think I took a little more than I was suppose to, I know that was wrong, it said 4-6 hours as needed, I was in terrible pain! I know it will show up but do they normally test the levels in your urine?

  50. Hi Jake. I’m not sure how long the statute of limitations is for old prescriptions, but you should be able to take a copy of your medical records to the drug testing center with you, at the least. MROs (medical review officers) know that drug addicts don’t hold onto old prescriptions…they need constant new ones. So, even if you test positive you’re probably in the clear.

  51. I have a similar situation as JR. I hurt my wrist lifting something at work I took my vicodin out of the red clumsey target bottles and put them in a pill box. I do have a medication review from my doctors office dated over a year ago. Would I be able to use that If I do test positive at a new job? Please advise.

  52. I took vicodin Sunday because my knee was hurting. I have a few left from a couple years ago but I put it into a drifferent bottle because I don’t like those red Target bottles. If the I do show positive can I get a note from the doctor stating that I have been perscribed vicodin for knee problem? It is in the records.

  53. Hi Patty. For a urinalysis (which actually needs to be an “extended opioid” specific drug screen), hydrocodone use will probably NOT be detected 15 days after last ingestion.

  54. I took my rx of 5/325 hydrocodone with 50 pills about 10 day period, Im was told I was going to have a UA sent to the lab 15 days from the day I stopped taking them. With the half life being 4 hrs, so by my calculations, the hydro shouldve been out of my sytstem in 10-11 half lives. Is this correct? I also heard it can be detected from 1 to 6 days. I went 15 days with out it, will it be out of my system in time??

  55. Hi Mike. Congratulations! Do you have a support system of people who can help you if/when you start to crave Vicodin again? Addiction is characterized by a mental craving for drugs, so unless you really get to the heart of why it is you took Vicodin in the first place, it’s difficult to get past the obsession to use again in the future.

  56. Hi Renee. The odds are that the hydrocodone in Vicodin was still in your system when you were given a random drug screen via urinalysis.

  57. Hi, I took 3 vicoden Monday night, the last one around 11pm. I drank 5 glasses of water throughout the night and morning. I was given a surprise UA Tuesday morning at 8:30. Is there any possible way it will pass?

  58. Hi JR. No, this is not true. Present the old script to the drug testing center. People with drug problems don’t hold onto old medications – they blaze through them! Although the final decision is in the hands of the Medical Review Officer, your medical use of Vicodin can be explained and should (theoretically) be the basis for a NEGATIVE screen, even if hydrocodone is found in the system.

  59. Another scenario. I injured my back last April, and was proscribed muscle relaxers, an nsaid and vicodin (10/325). I’ve pretty much gotten by with the MR and NSAID , taking them sparingly over the past year (last saw the doctor in February of this year and got refills on those two). I’ve had the vicodin sitting in the medicine cabinet, and only take it on my absolute worst days, which isn’t often. I still have about 15 left. The issue is I unloaded a truck of bricks the other day, and had one of times where I started to hurt terribly. When it happened I took one pill (11 days ago) then again two days later, none since. I got a call Sunday that I was being offered employment and needed to take a drug test (which will be this Tuesday). I was told by someone that if the script is over a year old and I test positive (urine) I may have no recourse because the script is too old. Is this the case?

  60. Hello cortez. Each person metabolizes hydrocodone differently, given their age, height, weight, metabolic factors, etc. Your chances are about 50-50 that you pass the urine screen given the short window between dosing and testing. We do recommend a policy of honesty during drug testing, and encourage everyone to stop hiding and take responsibility for drug use. How does that sit with you?

  61. hi. i took one 500mil of vicodin on monday at 2pm and took a ua on wednesday at 4pm i have never took anything before just wanna know what my chances are of the ua being clean

  62. Hi Robert. That does not sound legal. You have a right to take Vicodin as prescribed and should be able to be employed by any employer. If you are taking Vicodin as you should, simply present the prescription or your medical records to the Medical Review Officer in charge of the test. The test will not be dirty if you are dosing within your prescription. Instead, the results will be NEGATIVE from the lab.

    Does that make sense?

  63. I have been taking 3 500mg Vicodin for about 6 months for back pain (as prescribed). I have a drug test coming up for a job. They said whether I have a prescription or not, I can not have a dirty test. Today is Monday. Do you think I will be clean by Friday or should I postpone it until next Monday?

  64. Hi Zack. Thanks for your question. You are right to be cautious when mixing alcohol with opioids. The additive sedative effect can be very dangerous.

    Waiting until Vicodin is out of your system is a good idea before drinking. But just to confirm, you may want to ask your prescribing doctor for a medical opinion.

    Does this help?

  65. How long after taking Vicodin is it safe for me to drink alcohol? Should I wait a couple days before hand to avoid any side affects of mixing the two?

  66. Hello angelo. The symptoms that you describe are typical of withdrawal from opioids, and will peak and then ease over the course of a few days. Hydrocodone withdrawal can last for a week, or more but the duration of detox depends on individual use. More details on duration of withdrawal from hydrocodone here:

    Doctors recommend that you are medically supervised during this kind of bodily detox from physical dependence on any drug. Can you talk with a doctor or prescribing physician about your use and symptoms?

    Chronic use is not necessarily addiction. Addiction occurs when you take drugs compulsively, obsessively, and in spite of negative life consequences. You can know if you are addicted to Vicodin, or not, once you get the hydrocodone out of your body. If you crave more Vicodin and cannot live with the emotional and psychological stresses of every day without Vicodin…then you will know that you are a Vicodin addict.

    Does this help?

  67. Scenario: been taking vicoden off and on for years …but at my new job its easliy avalaible in large quantities whenever I want it .I’m 2 days clean and am having night sweats …insomnia …lack of appetite …lack of energy and motivation …are these normal sympotms …how long will this last …I’ve been t_aking 3-4 a day for almost a year …and this is considered addiciton right?

  68. Hi Evelyn. Yes. It is possible that you can get physically dependent on Vicodin, but physical dependence does not mean addiction. Dependence is characterised by physical symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking a medicine, and development of tolerance on a medication (needing more of it for the same initial effect). If you are dependent on Vicodin, you will not need it after the hydrocodone is out of your body. However, if you are addicted to Vicodin you will begin to crave the medicine when you stop taking it…and start taking it again to help ease emotional or psychological pain. So, it is possible that you can get off the medication. The question is: What will happen when you stop taking Vicodin?

    It is not clear whether or not shortness of breath is caused by Vicodin, or not, so I’d suggest that you see your prescribing doctor ASAP and report this symptom. It’s always best to get a face-to-face appointment in order to start to make a diagnosis.

    Does this help?

  69. Iwas injured on the job,affected physically and mentally (ptsd,depression and chronic pain and headachesI am on celexa and vicodin which I am taking 1 tab daily for 2 years.Is there a possibility that I will be addicted and cannot get off from these meds? I am having shortness of breath.Is this because of Vicodin side effects?

  70. Hi Italian. Thanks for your question. It’s a good one!

    Urine sample results are usually reported as positive (substance is found) or negative (no substance is found). Urine screens test for the prescence of the most common drug metabolites in urine (opiates, marijuana/THC and cocaine), and are not usually precise enough to indicate amounts of these metabolites. So, most primary urine screens indicate either POSITIVE or NEGATIVE use.

    On the other hand, blood toxicology screens are usually more precise and can indicate type and amount of drugs in your system.

    Does this help?

  71. Hi Impalla. Thanks for your question. Hydrocodone can be detected i hair for up to 90 days after use…but it is not detectable in urine much longer than 2-4 days after dosing. Still, it might be good to “tell on yourself”, especially if your parole officer can refer you to mental health services (like seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist) that can help you deal with your stress. It is SO MUCH better to be honest about what you need and what you do than to run away from your problems and hope you don’t get caught for taking action.

  72. Hey, I’m 5’11 and 170 pounds and generally healthy. I got really stressed out yesterday and took ONE 10 milligram Norco/Hydrocodone.
    How long will this stay in my urine for ? I have to report to my parole officer in 3 weeks, and might get drug tested. Keep in mind I have not taken anything in over 31 months.
    Thank you.

  73. Hi Lori. I cannot advise you on how to test negative for Vicodin. However, most supervising medical officers at drug screening centers will sign off on a “negative” screen when you show evidence of prescription and test within therapeutic use. I don’t know if testing centers report levels of drugs even for negative test results during pre employment tests, but this seems to be an administrative detail that you can clear up with a phone call to the testing center.

  74. Hi…I have been treated for the past six months for some health issues and have been taking hydrocodone once or twice a day. I have a pre employment drug screen on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. I am a nurse and do not want this in my system (even though I have a prescription) I don’t want my employer to think I have any physical condition which will prohibit me from doing this new job. Could you help me with two questions? 1) if last dose is Saturday will it show Wed or Thursday? 2)if I take the prescription bottle to the test, even if it shows up will they report that I am on this medication to my future employer? I am a wreck over this! Thank you!

  75. Hi Mike. If you have a prescription for your back pain, take it to the test. If you were using Vicodin as prescribed, you will test clean. If you don’t have a prescription, you will just have to face the consequences of unauthorized Vicodin consumption.

  76. Hey thanks for the info, I took 1 5/500 mg Vic for back pain Saturday night and I’ve just been told I have urinalysis at 1200 today. What can I do to increase my odds of passing? I am in the military so I can’t postpone. I thank you in advance for the answer.

  77. Hi Ree. Thanks for your questions. From what I know of Vicodin, the main ingredient – hydrocodone – can cause different reactions in different people. It is possible that your body is responding adversely to the opioid.

    I’d suggest that you first speak with your pain management doctor about the symptoms, and request more information. Report the symptoms and perhaps request a different type of pain medication. I’m not sure if all opioids would create similar reactions (hydrocodone, tramadol, oxycodone, etc.) but it might be worth a try to ask.

  78. I have been prescribed vicodin for back pain resulting from multiple traumas. I take it only when pain is severe, however no matter how few I take (even one pill) I have hangover symptoms the next day. I do not drink alcohol and the only other meds I take are antidepressants. What can be the cause of the hangover symptoms and is there anything I can do to alleviate/prevent them? Thank you.

  79. I have a question about when a drug screen is done by your pain management Dr. Will the test show how much has been taken in a certain amount of time or will it just verify that u have been taking It regularly for chronic pain. I had taken my regular dose before going to the office and they were aware of it. Thanks for the info.

  80. Hi Roxy. If your boyfriend was dosing on Vicodin for only a short period of time, it’s possible that the hydrocodone that is detected in most drug screens for opiates will be out of his system before his test on Friday. But if he was taking your Vicodin for a couple of weeks or more, it’s possible that hydrocodone can be detected.

    However, he needs to know that probation officers and drug tests will usually WAIVE prescription use of pain killers for legitimate and doctor approved reasons. In other words, if you have a prescription for a pain killer and are taking it as prescribed, drug tests for misuse of that pain killer will come up negative.

    In the future, anyone (like your boyfriend) who needs pain killers and is drug tested should always get a prescription first. If he does get tested positive for Vicodin, it is a consequence and hopefully a learning lesson for him.

  81. I have a concern/situation. My boyfriend 2 vicodin 5/325 for a really bad shoulder pain. They are prescribed to me for my pain. He took them today which is Sunday and has to do a urine test on Friday with his probation officer. He has also taken a few somas as well. Im wondering will all this show up on his urine test? Please and thank you.

  82. Dear Amber,

    It sounds like you are in a very sensitive and difficult predicament: address your concerns or wait for your sister to come to you? Even when taken as prescribed, a Vicodin user can become physically dependent on Vicodin (tolerance as you describe, and withdrawal when taken away or abruptly stopped), but can also become psychologically dependent. It sounds as if your sister is a little bit of both. Often times, addicts need to come “to the end of the road”, when negative consequences are just too much to handle, before they stop. Also, addiction is a family disease. Perhaps there are some outstanding issues in your family of origin unit that remain unaddressed? Is there some situation or circumstance that your sister is avoiding? A past pain or hurt?

  83. I have a sister who’s been taking vicodin everyday of a year and a half, since a fender bender, when it was prescribed to her. Though it hasn’t been her first time taking it. Whenever she has talked to me about her use, since I previously worked in a pharmacy before being a stay at home mom, it has become more and more of a concern. She will say things like “I take it differently than they say to; I need it more often because the effects wear off; I had to call and have the doctor up my dose; I had to pay cash for my refill because my insurance says it’s too early.” She also told our other sister that she knows she’s not addicted b/c she’ll wean herself off for a couple of days to make sure of it.She has become more withdrawn from many of us. She is sick a lot of the time,and will cancel on family get togethers frequently. She has to takes naps most everyday because of unexplained tiredness. She is snaps at people and her own kids. Admits to feeling overwhelmed, and stressed. Feels derpressed. Can’t concentrate often looses her train of thought. She did start, after much urging, to take a non narcotic drug for nerve damage, Neurontin. She said she noticed it was working to alliveate her pain. Then 3 days later she she started back up on her vicodin. Now she take then together, she already has asthma and takes other medications besides these. She has avoided others for weeks when they try to talk to her about it. I have been slow to say anything to her because when she shuts everyone else out she’ll come to me. I feel she needs help, I just want to approach this the right way so I can keep the line of communication open.

  84. Hi Alicia,

    Even if Vicodin doesn’t show up on a drug test (it most likely won’t, given the single dose and time before testing), your probation officer will appreciate your honesty. If you’re really trying to get clean, a legitimate use of Vicodin should not get in the way of your recovery. Honesty is always the best policy in recovery!

  85. I took 2 vicodine early evening monday an have to report to probation thursday morning will i be ok? I only took them bc i just had a baby an granted she weighed 10 pounds even they knew about my past an would not perscribe me anything but tylenol 3

  86. Hi JoeJoe,

    It sounds like Vicodin has been detected in the primary urine test. The lab now needs to confirm the first urinalysis with another test from the same urine to be sure that the metabolites from the ingredients of Vicodin are present. This is just a routine screening and verification phase.

    You may get a phone call from an MD at the lab looking for more information. If you have a medical reason for taking Vicodin, now is the time to share that information. Recent surgeries/medical procedures, legitimate chronic pain or other diagnoses for Vicodin can help the laboratory rule out Vicodin misuse in the urinalysis. But if you’re taking Vikes recreationally, you probably will have tested positive.

  87. Nina:
    You don’t need to feel guilty for taking medicine if it is prescribed for a medical need. As far as your daughter is concerned I would worry about the grandchild which I am sure you are. There are professionals who can help you do an intervention to try to convince your daughter to do something to get help. That is a good place to start. I also know that Alonon is a good place for you to go to and talk to people who have been in your position. Anyone who takes a narcotic for a month or more is probably goiing to go through withdrawal and the longer you take a dose it is likely that it won’t have the same effect. That is why addicts have to have more. It’s all about Dopamine or seritonum (sp). I hope your daughter gets help so she can do the most important job she has right now taking care of her child. If the child is threatened. I would consider enlisting the help of someone who can suggest options to you. If you are telling the world I don’t take it all the time I wonder why that is so important to say. I hope that all are helped. Maybe you should lock up your medications that she is stealing and not tell her where they are. Get a weeks worth of meds dispenser and she can’t take all your medicine. Addictions are ruthless in what they do to families. I know

  88. I took 2 vicadin on wed night. I took a piss test on friday morning. they said something showed up and have to send it to the lab wich will take 3 days to get results back. What are my chances of passing this?

  89. I have been taking it for years only I don’t take it every day. But I have a daughter who takes all of hers and then comes to my home wanting more. Last time she was here she stole half of my meds. She won’t admit to a problem. If I say anything to her about my missing pills she won’t let me see my grandson any more. Don’t know what to do for her.

  90. Anxiety is very common and affects nearly 40 million adults in the United States every year. There are several types of anxiety disorders and many different causes. The disorders we treat most often at Bridges to Recovery are Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Bridges to Recovery wants to help you understand anxiety, and its treatment possibilities.

  91. Hydrocodone is the narcotic component of Vicodin. In Canada it is still sold under the trade name Hycodan in syrup and tablet forms by Bristol-Myers-Squibb.

    How do you know if your addicted? People who aren’t addicted, never wonder if they are addicted.

    Get the help you need, change your paradigm and Rethink Rehab.
    My name is Jane Derry.

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