Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
Prescription drugs are carefully prescribed by doctors and should be used as per doctor’s instructions. The problem with some types of prescription drugs is that they are prone to abuse. Most commonly abused drugs contain hydrocodone.
It is derived from the opium poppy, a semi-synthetic substance which is a result of chemically modified codeine molecule. Some of the commonly abused drugs that contain hydrocodone include the following:
- Lorcet (1)
- Vicoprofen (2)
How long does Hydrocodone stay in your system – Infographic
Image 1: A 7.5 mg hydrocodone white tablet.
Picture Source: img.medscapestatic.com
Picture 2: Hydrocodone is one of the commonly abused drugs in the world.
Photo Source: www.intotreatment.com
The effects of hydrocodone on the brain and body
Hydrocodone connects to the opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other vital organs in the body. Hydrocodone reduces the body’s response to pain and creates a feeling of comfort. This causes the user to use the drug more than the therapeutic dose so as to intensify the experience. Some of the notable effects of hydrocodone to the brain and body include the following:
- Euphoric high
- A sense of well-being
- A feeling of drowsiness or lethargy (1, 2, 3)
As you regularly take hydrocodone for recreational purpose, your body gets used to its effects. Keep in mind that hydrocodone is not meant to be used long-term as it could lead to drug dependency and addiction. If you suddenly stop taking it, your body needs to adjust which causes withdrawal symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the gravity of the dose, frequency of use, and the body’s natural response. (3, 4)
How long does a hydrocodone stay in your system?
To be able to find out how long hydrocodone stays in the system, it is important to know the half-life of the drug. A 10 mg of hydrocodone has a half-life of four hours. Meaning, half of the hydrocodone will take four hours to be eliminated from the body. As the effect of the drug wears off, the body begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. The patient can feel the withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours after the last dose. (4, 5)
There are a few important things that can greatly affect the body’s ability to eliminate hydrocodone. They are:
- Age – Various bodily functions can be greatly affected by the person’s age. Those who belong to the younger population can metabolize and eliminate the drug faster than the adult/senior population.
- Dose and frequency of use – The higher the dose, the harder it is for the body to completely eliminate the drug in a short timeframe. The same thing goes for frequent users. Those who have been taking the drug for a long period of time will most likely do need more time to get the drug out of their system. (4, 5, 6)
- Genetics – The body’s biochemical makeup can significantly affect its functions including its ability to retain and excrete drugs.
- Kidney and liver function – Kidneys and liver are the organs that play an important role in the body’s response to various bodily activities, especially in processing and eliminating anything from the body. People with issues in their kidneys and liver may take some time to completely metabolize and eliminate the drug from the body.
- Metabolic functions – The body’s metabolic functions vary from one person to another. Ideally, healthy individuals can metabolize foods and drugs faster than a less healthy person. A person will a slow metabolism can retain the drug longer than that of a person with a healthy metabolism. (5, 6)
How long does hydrocodone stay in your system?
How long hydrocodone stays in your system primarily depends on the type of testing procedures used. There are various ways to detect the presence of hydrocodone in the body. Some of them include blood test, urine test, hair follicle test, and saliva test. Each test has a corresponding window of detection. (6, 7)
|3 to 4 days from the last use
|Up to 24 hours from the last use
|24 to 36 hours from the last use
|Hair follicle test
|Up to 90 days/3 months from the last use
Urine Drug Test
A freshly catch urine should be used as a specimen. Hydrocodone can still be present in the urine for up to four days from the last use. However, those who have been taking a high dose of hydrocodone for a long period of time may take more time to clear the drug from their urine. There is a tendency that hydrocodone can be detected for more than a week from the last use. (6, 7, 8)
A blood sample is collected and checked for the presence of hydrocodone. A blood test can detect hydrocodone in the blood for up to 24 hours from the last dose. (8)
A body fluid from the oral cavity is collected and checked in the laboratory. Ideally, a saliva blood test can detect hydrocodone for 24 to 36 hours (1 to 1 ½ days) from the last use. (7, 8)
Hair follicle Test
Hair follicle test is not reliable when it comes to detecting recent drug use. What it is good though is that it can accurately detect long-term drug use. It can detect hydrocodone for up to 90 days or three months from the last use.
Should you wish to test negative for hydrocodone, then the best thing you can do is to completely avoid it. That way, you will be 100% free from hydrocodone. If you are going to undergo a routine drug test and you are on a prescription hydrocodone, you need to inform the testing center along with your prescription so as to avoid getting a false positive result.
Quitting hydrocodone, especially if you have been using it for a recreational purpose for a long period of time can be extremely challenging. The drug addict is usually put in a rehab and detox facility to help him get through the drug elimination process. (8, 9, 10)
Disclaimer: Hydrocodone is a prescription drug and should only be used under the doctor’s supervision. The purpose of this article is to draw awareness and information about hydrocodone and its effects on the body. Taking hydrocodone against the doctor’s advice can lead to serious health complications. This article is to educate people and raise awareness of the use of hydrocodone and its impact on the body when used the wrong way. Let this article be a guide to come up with healthy life choices.