How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System, Urine, Blood & Hair

medical specimen collection bottle in gloved hand

Determining how long does hydrocodone stays in your system is primarily based on it’s half-life.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Norco) is a prescription drug containing acetaminophen and hydrocodone, an opioid analgesic synthesized from codeine.

Physicians prescribe hydrocodone for relieving severe pain and sometimes to suppress chronic cough. People taking hydrocodone for more than several weeks are at risk for abusing this drug and developing an addiction due to its opioid-like effects on the brain.

Because the liver primarily metabolizes hydrocodone, cirrhosis of the liver or other liver diseases can increase half-life time and delay elimination of hydrocodone by the body. Kidney disease may also interfere with drug clearance.

Hydrocodone users with highly acidic urine may pass a drug test before those with more alkaline urine. By promoting drug reabsorption before elimination is complete, urine alkalinity can slow clearance of hydrocodone from urine, blood, hair and tissues.

The main variables for how long hydrocodone remains detectable include;

  • person’s age
  • length of time of use
  • overall health
  • type of test
  • dosage


The “half-life” is approximately four hours, to eliminate half of a normal dose (10mg) of hydrocodone. That means approximately 50% of the drug will be eliminated every four hours.

  • People who are height-weight proportionate could expect the complete elimination of hydrocodone from their body within 24 hours of taking a normal dose

Testing For Metabolites

One of several metabolites comprising hydrocodone, norhydrocodone is created in the liver following consumption of hydrocodone and produces slight stimulation of opioid receptors in the brain. Urine testing of hydrocodone users has found that norhydrocodone may be detected for much longer periods than hydrocodone and another metabolite called hydromorphone.

Consequently, hydrocodone abusers tend to accumulate and retain norhydrocodone in their blood and urine. Moreover, those abstaining from hydrocodone use for several days following weeks of abuse may not necessarily pass a drug test.

When taken according to prescription guidelines, hydrocodone remains detectable in blood and urine for at least 24 hours following the last dose.

However, norhydrocodone may be detected in urine for up to 72 hours, depending on dosage amounts and certain factors affecting the user’s:

  • age
  • weight
  • health condition
  • genetics
  • metabolic rates

Saliva and Hair

Like other opioids, hydrocodone can be detected in hair follicles for as long as three months after the last dose. Hydrocodone, as well as most drugs, remain in body hair for longer than 90 days.

  • Saliva may contain norhydrocodone for as long as 40 to 72 hours. Factors affecting saliva testing for drugs include oral pH factors and certain diseases such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders

More information

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