How Long Does Vicodin® Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Vicodin® Stay In Your System?
Amanda Stevens

Written By

Amanda Stevens
Dr. Po-Chang Hsu -

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Last Medically Reviewed on February 22, 2024

  • Vicodin® contains two active ingredients - hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
  • Vicodin® has an average half-life of 3.8 to 4.9 hours.
  • On average, it can take up to 1 to 4 days for Vicodin® to be cleared from the body.
  • Different factors will contribute to how long Vicodin® remains in your system, including age, metabolism, weight, sex, and frequency of use.

Vicodin® is a powerful pain reliever used to treat severe pain after injuries or surgeries. The painkiller has an average half-life of 3.8 to 4.9 hours, and, on average, it can take up to 1 to 4 days for Vicodin® to be cleared from the body.

However, it can also be misused or abused, leading to serious health consequences. For this reason, it’s crucial to know how long Vicodin® stays in your system and how it interacts with other medications you may be taking.

What Exactly Is Vicodin®?

Vicodin® is a widely prescribed pain medication that falls under narcotic opioid drugs[1]. It is composed of two primary active ingredients – hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone functions as an opioid pain reliever that impacts the pain receptors in your brain and nervous system. In contrast, acetaminophen acts as a non-opioid pain reliever and decreases fever.

Vicodin® is an effective painkiller, but it also comes with side effects. The most common ones are nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and dry mouth. While these side effects are generally mild, there are rare cases where Vicodin® can cause more severe problems, including difficulty breathing or an allergic reaction.

If you start feeling these severe side effects, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.

Vicodin® contains the opioid hydrocodone[2], which increases its potential for abuse and addiction. Using or abusing it for prolonged periods can cause physical dependence, resulting in withdrawal symptoms if abruptly ceased.

It’s important to note that taking Vicodin® in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed heightens the risk of overdose and addiction.

How Long Does Vicodin® Stay In Your System?

The active ingredient in Vicodin®, hydrocodone, has an average half-life of 3.8 to 4.9 hours. Half of the drug dose will leave the body within that time frame. However, it may take up to five half-lives for the drug to be entirely removed from the system.

On average, Vicodin® can take up to 1 to 4 days to be cleared from the body, but detection times in drug tests can be longer: up to 3 days in urine, 24 hours in blood, 36 hours in saliva, and up to 90 days in hair.

Factors Affecting How Long Vicodin® Stays In Your System

Below are some of the factors that can influence how long Vicodin® stays in your system:

Dosage and Frequency of Use

The dosage and usage frequency are significant factors that determine how long Vicodin® remains in your system. Higher doses or frequent use of the drug lead to a longer time required to metabolize and eliminate it. Typically, it takes about four hours for the body to eliminate half of the drug, known as its half-life. Hence, higher doses or more frequent use of Vicodin® result in longer elimination times.

Body Metabolism

If you have a fast metabolism, Vicodin® could be eliminated from your system in a shorter period. Conversely, if you have a slower metabolism, it may take longer to break down and stop the medication.

Liver and Kidney Function

Your liver and kidneys are vital in removing Vicodin® from your body. This is because the liver metabolizes drugs, whereas the kidneys eliminate drugs. Therefore, Vicodin® will take longer to break down and exit your system if you have a damaged liver or kidneys.

On the other hand, if your liver or kidneys are healthy, they can metabolize and eliminate Vicodin® faster.

Age and Gender

Age and gender affect how long Vicodin® stays in your system. As we age, our metabolism slows, causing drugs to stay longer. Also, women tend to metabolize Vicodin® more slowly than men due to differences in hormone balances, which impact how long the drug remains in their bodies.

Other Medications and Substances

Other substances and medications can affect Vicodin® ‘s stay in your system. For example, some drugs can slow down their metabolism, making them linger in your system longer.

However, combining Vicodin® with some substances can speed up eliminating it from your body. Mixing it with alcohol or other substances can also influence its duration in your system.

Detection Methods for Vicodin®

Detecting Vicodin® in the body can be done through several methods. These include:

Urine Testing

Urine tests are the most common way to detect Vicodin® in your system. Urine samples are tested for the presence of hydrocodone and its metabolites. The test is sensitive enough to detect even small amounts of the drug. It can be detected up to 2-3 days[3] after the last use, depending on how often it was taken and the user’s metabolism.

Blood Testing

Blood tests are less commonly used to detect Vicodin® abuse, but they can be more accurate than urine tests. The test can detect Vicodin® in the bloodstream within hours of use. However, blood tests are more expensive, less convenient, and less frequently used than urine tests.

Hair Testing

Hair testing is a modern method of detecting Vicodin® abuse that requires a hair sample from the tested person. The sample is then sent to a laboratory where it’s analyzed for drug use. Hair testing can detect drug use up to 90 days after the last use, making it a technique with a broader detection window, but not necessarily more accurate than other methods.

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing offers a non-intrusive and distinctive method for detecting Vicodin®. This test involves taking a sample of saliva through a simple mouth swab. Within a few hours of use, the test can detect Vicodin® use with high accuracy. The swab is placed in your mouth for approximately two minutes until it is saturated and then submitted for testing.

Sweat Patch Testing

Sweat patch testing is a relatively new method of drug detection. This involves placing a sweat patch on your skin, which absorbs the sweat and any drugs present in it. The patch is then collected and sent to a laboratory for analysis. It can detect Vicodin® use within the past week or so, making it useful for detecting recent drug use.

Learn More About How Long It Takes Prescription Drugs to Exit Your System

To learn more about how Vicodin® and other substances interact with the body and how long they take to become metabolized, check out these additional resources.

What are the common side effects of Vicodin® ?

Vicodin®  can cause a range of standard and less common side effects. Some of the most common side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and lightheadedness. Other less common side effects include dry mouth, loss of appetite, sweating, and itching.

 

In rare cases, Vicodin®  can cause more severe side effects, such as respiratory depression, which can be life-threatening. If you experience any more serious side effects, seek medical attention immediately.

How long does Vicodin® stay in your system?

The length of time Vicodin®  stays in your system can vary depending on several factors, including the dose, frequency of use, and the individual’s metabolism. Vicodin®  can generally be detected in urine for up to four days after the last dose. 

 

However, this can be longer or shorter depending on individual factors. For example, individuals with a slower metabolism or those who take more Vicodin®  may take longer to eliminate the drug from their system.

Can Vicodin® be taken with other medications?

Vicodin®  can interact with other medications, including antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and sedatives. Talking to your healthcare provider before taking Vicodin®  with other medicines is essential. 

 

Specific drug interactions can increase the risk of side effects or reduce the effectiveness of Vicodin® . Your healthcare provider can advise you on which medications are safe to take with Vicodin®  and which should be avoided.

Can Vicodin® be taken during pregnancy?

Vicodin®  should only be taken during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. It is classified as a Pregnancy Category C drug by the FDA, which means that it has not been adequately studied in pregnant women but may be harmful to the fetus. 

 

Vicodin® should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus, and it should be used with caution at any stage of pregnancy.

Can I stop taking Vicodin® suddenly?

No, it is not recommended to stop taking Vicodin®  suddenly. Doing so can cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable or dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, muscle aches, and anxiety. 

 

If you must stop taking Vicodin®  or reduce your dosage, talk to your healthcare provider first. They can help you develop a plan to taper off the medication slowly and safely.

We take our music-focused treatment for addiction very seriously, so we are going to hold our content to the same precision standards. Recovery Unplugged’s editorial process involves our editing safeguard and our ideals. Read our Editorial Process.

Sources


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2024). Opioids | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids

[2] MedlinePlus. (2023, May 15). Hydrocodone Combination Products: MedlinePlus Drug Information. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601006.html

[3] Raouf, M., Bettinger, J. J., & Fudin, J. (2018). A Practical Guide to Urine Drug Monitoring. Federal Practitioner, 35(4), 38–44. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6368048/

Amanda Stevens

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work.

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