Hydrocodone Half Life: How Long Does It Stay in Your System?


How long does hydrocodone stay in your system? Have you taken hydrocodone recently and are worried about it showing up on a drug test? Since hydrocodone is an opioid, nearly all major drug tests will test for it, so, if you’re trying to pass a drug test, it’s important to know how long after taking hydrocodone you’ll still test positive.

In this guide, we go over how long detectable levels of hydrocodone remain in your system for four different types of drug tests, the hydrocodone half life, and what you can do to get hydrocodone out of your system faster.


What Is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Common brand names of hydrocodone include Vicodin, Lorcet, Hycet, and Norco. Hydrocodone is usually either in liquid or tablet form.

Hydrocodone is synthesized from codeine, one of the ingredients found in opium poppy plants, and it works by changing the way to brain feels and responds to pain. Hydrocodone is also used recreationally by some people in order to feel high.


How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

You’ll begin to feel the effects of hydrocodone about 30 minutes after you take it, and the effects last for about four to six hours. How long does hydrocodone stay in your system? The hydrocodone half life is one of the shortest of all opiates, so it leaves your body relatively quickly. The hydrocodone half life is about 3.8 hours, which means that after that time, only about half the hydrocodone you originally took will still be in your system.

Exactly how long hydrocodone stays in your system depends on several factors which we’ll discuss in the next section. You can see in the chart below how long hydrocodone remains at detectable levels for four different types of drug tests. Urine tests are the most common way to test for hydrocodone and other narcotics.

How Long Detectable Levels Remain
12-36 hours
Up to 1 day
2-4 days
Up to 90 days

How long does hydrocodone stay in your urine? Within four days after taking it, hydrocodone won’t be at detectable levels for saliva, blood, or urine tests. It’s possible to pass a saliva or blood test as quickly as one day after taking hydrocodone. Like many other drugs, hydrocodone is detectable in hair tests up to three months after last taking it.


What Affects How Long Hydrocodone Stays in Your System?

The reason most tests have a range for how long hydrocodone can be detected is that it’s difficult to predict exactly how long hydrocodone will remain in your system. There are multiple factors that affect these numbers, and below are three of the most important.


Your History of Narcotic Use

The biggest factor affecting how long hydrocodone stays in your body is if you have a history of using narcotics/opioids. If you have used hydrocodone or other narcotics heavily or for a long time, they will stay in their system longer, up to several weeks for blood, urine, or saliva tests. The more you take opioids like hydrocodone and the longer you take them, the more they build up in your body, and the longer it takes for them to be completely removed from your system.


Your Age and Weight

Your age often affects how long hydrocodone remains in your system. Generally, hydrocodone will last longer in the bodies of older people since their metabolisms have slowed down and can’t remove drugs and other substances from their bodies as quickly as young people can.

Your weight can also have an impact. The more hydrocodone you take in comparison to your BMI (body mass index), the slower the hydrocodone will be removed from your system. This means, if a smaller person and a larger person take the same amount of hydrocodone, the drug will likely remain in the body of the smaller person somewhat longer since the dose they took is a higher percentage of their body mass.


How Much Hydrocodone You Take

If you take a larger dose of hydrocodone, it’ll take longer for it to be completely removed from your body compared to a smaller dose. This makes sense since your body can only metabolize and remove the drug from your body at a certain rate, so larger doses of hydrocodone will remain at detectable levels in your body longer.


How Can You Get Hydrocodone Out of Your System Faster?

Is hydrocodone one of the drugs that drug tests can detect? Yes, nearly all major drug tests will include a test for opiates, which includes hydrocodone. So what can you do if you’ve taken hydrocodone recently but need to pass a drug test?

Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to pass a drug test if you’ve taken hydrocodone within the past few days, so the best way to make sure you pass your drug test is to not take any hydrocodone at least four days before your test. As long as you’re getting a saliva, urine, or blood test, that’ll usually be a long enough time for you to get clean test results.

However, if that isn’t possible or you don’t have a lot of advanced notice for when your drug test will be, one option you can try is drinking a lot of water to try and flush the hydrocodone out of your system more quickly. Don’t start chugging gallons of water though, since that can make you sick. Drinking 1-2 glasses of water each hour for a day or two before your drug test can help you pass the test.

You should also be very wary of products that guarantee clean drug test results. Most of these products are useless, and some can even contain ingredients that are dangerous to your health. Drug tests have become very sophisticated in the past few decades, so it’s more and more difficult to get a falsely clean test. Again, the best thing to do to ensure a clean test is to avoid hydrocodone for at least four days before your drug test.