How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

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How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

One of the reasons that opioids have become a crisis in the United States isn’t simply that doctors are overprescribing or that people are getting more of these drugs than they really need at one time. A big part of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know what drugs they should be worried about, or how important it is to report their symptoms and potential signs of addiction to their doctor while taking these drugs.

That simple problem, people not knowing which medications might lead to an addiction or worse, isn’t easy to address. But, one of the ways we can make the situation better, and help people recover their lives if they do become addicted to a medication, is by providing as much information as we can in a way that’s easy to read and understand.

So, let’s take a look at a relatively common medication that users should be aware of, and give you the information you need to use this medication responsibly.

In this article, we’ll cover what hydrocodone is, how the drug is normally used, how long hydrocodone stays in your system, potential side effects and risks of use, and other information you need before using hydrocodone.

Because this medication is both a prescription medication and a potential drug of misuse, we’ll also talk about signs of addiction and what you can do if you or a loved one becomes addicted. The information here is designed to be helpful whether you’re the one taking hydrocodone yourself, or a concerned loved one who wants to know more about the drug and the potential danger signs to help someone in your life.

What Is Hydrocodone?

First and foremost, the most important thing you need to know about hydrocodone is what the drug is and a little of how it works in your body. This information is important because hydrocodone is different from other drugs of abuse, and the side effects and risks are different because of the differences in how the drug works.

Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medication, often combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol) to create an effective barrier to pain while also relaxing the person using the drug and reducing the stress, they feel from any pain that gets through the medication.

The result is a good treatment for severe pain, and also a risk for addiction thanks to the feel-good results of the drug.

Generally, hydrocodone comes in an extended-release form designed to provide long-lasting pain relief.

how is hydrocodone used

How Is Hydrocodone Used?

Generally, hydrocodone is only used in a few situations where patients are in a lot of pain. It can be used for both acute pain, like post-surgical pain or to help with the pain of broken bones, or chronic pain from disorders, disease, and long-lasting injuries.

However, most doctors try to find other alternative medications when dealing with chronic pain because of the risk of addiction.

The longer you take hydrocodone, the more likely you are to have a chemical dependence and the more likely that dependence will turn into an addiction.

There are a lot of reasons that hydrocodone can be addictive, and some people become dependent very quickly when they are taking the medication, which is one reason some doctors avoid prescribing hydrocodone for all the most severe injuries and painful conditions.

In other cases, hydrocodone might be something your doctor is willing to prescribe for the kind of pain you’re dealing with, but only after trying a variety of other medications to see if they can give you adequate pain coverage with a medication that is less likely to cause addiction.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay In Your System?

Because most hydrocodone is specifically formulated to make sure that it provides long-lasting pain coverage, partially by releasing slowly as your body digests the medication, hydrocodone generally stays in your system for about 18-24 hours.

The exact length of time hydrocodone stays in your system is individual, depending on your metabolism, the kind of pain you are treating, any other medications you might be on at the same time, and a number of other factors.

However, most people fall into this average with only slight variations between individuals.

How Long Is Hydrocodone Detectible In Your System?

Hydrocodone is detectable for a fair amount of time after you take the medication, and we have a wide variety of drug tests that can detect hydrocodone since the drug is well understood and has been extensively studied.

Typically, hydrocodone stays detectable in your system for up to 24 hours in your blood, up to 36 hours in your saliva, 1-4 days in your urine, and up to about 3 months in hair tests.

Side Effects And Risks Of Hydrocodone Use

While hydrocodone is generally considered safe to use, it can cause some unpleasant side effects. The larger the dose you take, and the longer you keep taking the medication, the more serious the side effects are likely to be.

People who use hydrocodone without a prescription are also more likely to have significant side effects because their body isn’t using the drug, which means there is more of the chemicals available to cause unwanted side effects in the body.

Here are some of the common side effects of hydrocodone:

    • Drowsiness

    • Lack of coordination

    • Constipation

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

    • Mood changes (fear, anxiety, other unpleasant emotions)

    • Liver damage

    • Muscle weakness

    • Mild tremors

For some people, this medication may also affect your blood pressure and other functions in the body. It’s always important to talk with your doctor about any conditions you have before taking this medication and to let your doctor know if you have any unwanted side effects.

If you are taking hydrocodone with a prescription and have unwanted side effects your doctor may be able to suggest an alternative that will be more effective for you and less likely to cause addiction and other unwanted problems.

Is Hydrocodone Addictive?


Like all opioid medications, hydrocodone can be addictive. Hydrocodone is also called Vicodin and is so addictive that it’s been the drug several popular characters were addicted to in media. Vicodin and Percocet, both opioid medications, are two of the most common sources of addiction right now, and both are powerful opioids that should only be used in very specific situations.

One of the problems with using these medications is that they can be addictive in as little as a single dose for some people, especially people with a personal history of addiction, even to other drugs, or who have a family history of addiction.

Other people may be able to take hydrocodone for a long time without developing an addiction, but the risk never goes away entirely. Most people can manage the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal by working closely with their doctor to lower their dose and manage their withdrawal, and then avoiding using this medication again, but that only works if they recognize that they are dealing with an addiction and start the process.

It also helps to have an addiction-informed doctor who can help you overcome your addiction safely and with a minimum of discomfort.

signs of hydrocodone addiction

Signs Of Hydrocodone Addiction

Understanding the risk of addiction isn’t the same at mitigating that risk or kno