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How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System

Determining how long hydrocodone stays in the system for a drug test is primarily a function of the drug’s half-life.

  • Hydrocodone is a prescription pain medication. It is an opioid. 

Physicians prescribe hydrocodone for relieving severe pain. However, people taking hydrocodone for more than two weeks are at a very high risk of developing a dependence due to its opioid-like effects on the brain.

Hydrocodone is a component of other drugs, such as acetaminophen, which can affect the time it takes to clear it from the body.


The liver primarily metabolizes hydrocodone. Cirrhosis of the liver or other diseases can increase half-life time and delay the 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. Urine alkalinity can slow the clearance of hydrocodone from urine, blood, hair, and tissues.

The main variables for how long hydrocodone remains detectable in the urine 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 standard dose (10mg) of hydrocodone. The half-life is the time it takes to “clear” 50% of a drug from the body.
  • People who are height-weight proportionate could expect the elimination of hydrocodone from their bodies within approximately 24 hours of taking a standard dose. This time, however, depends on several other factors.
  • According to prescription guidelines, hydrocodone remains detectable in blood and urine for at least 24 hours following the last dose.

Today most hydrocodone urine tests look for metabolites rather than the drug itself. Metabolites are the chemicals the body utilizes to metabolize them.

Several metabolites produce slight stimulation of opioid receptors in the brain. 

  • Urine tests detect another metabolite called hydromorphone.

Hydrocodone abusers accumulate and retain hydrocodone in their blood and urine.

  • However, those abstaining from hydrocodone use for several days following weeks of abuse may not necessarily pass a drug test.

However, hydrocodone may be detected in urine for up to 72 hours, depending on dosage amounts and specific factors affecting the users:

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

Hair and Saliva Tests

Like other opioids, hydrocodone is in hair follicles for as long as three months after the last dose. In addition, hydrocodone and most drugs remain in body hair for longer than 90 days.

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

General info

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