After a severe injury or intense surgery, your doctor may prescribe a narcotic painkiller known as Vicodin. It is effective in providing quick relief from pain.
However, it has a high likelihood of being misused. Long-term use of this pain relief pill may drive a person to dependency and addiction.
In such a scenario, the question “how long does Vicodin stay in your system” is relevant and important to explore.
What is Vicodin?
Vicodin is the brand name of an opioid pain relief medication. The chief ingredients in it are acetaminophen and hydrocodone.
Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine, an opioid alkaloid found in the opium poppy. It is a narcotic prescription medicine meant for pain relief from injury, after surgery or to combat any chronic pain.
Also, this pain control medication is available under different brand names such as Norcos, or Vics.
It is available in forms such as pills, injections, or inhalation solutions. Its risk for psychological and physical dependence is very high.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified Vicodin as a Schedule II drug.
Unfortunately, Vicodin is a misused opioid drug. The soothing effect of this opioid medication has made many users perennially addicted to it.
Effects of Vicodin on your body
Importantly, Vicodin is a narcotic analgesic because of the hydrocodone ingredient in it. Hydrocodone quickly takes effects in your body by connecting to the proteins in the brain and opioid receptors.
Opioids have the potency to interfere with the pain signals which are on the way to the brain. It changes your perception of pain, as well as your sensory reaction to it.
Hydrocodone creates a euphoric feeling in the brain that eases out the sense of pain and calms the mind. However, the euphoric effect created by this drug can make the user easily becomes addicted to this drug.
It is a schedule II controlled substance which a practitioner can allow the patient to use for a maximum of 90 days only. Over a period, your body accustoms and becomes tolerant of this drug. This may compel you to consume the drug in higher doses. Subsequently, several side effects of the drug may affect your body such as:
Drinking alcohol while you are on Vicodin medication may cause drug interactions. This drug may not go well with other medications which are opioid antagonists.
Effects of Vicodin Overdose
Because of addiction, some may take overdoses of Vicodin intentionally while some do it accidentally.
Taking too much Vicodin or combining it with other drugs can cause serious health hazards.
Regularly taking high amounts of acetaminophen in Vicodin together with an opioid is extremely bad for the liver. Eventually, it can lead to liver inflammation, scarring, or functional issues of the liver.
Additionally, acetaminophen and opioids can gradually slow down respiratory and digestive functions, cause constipation, and damage the intestine.
Furthermore, prolonged use of Vicodin in overdoses can cause respiratory infections and other lung problems.
Important symptoms of Vicodin overdose include:
- low blood pressure
- weak pulse
- muscle spasms in the stomach
- pinpoint pupils
- breathing difficulties
How long does Vicodin stay in your system?
The half-life of a drug is the period required for the concentration or amount of drug in the body to be reduced by one-half. A drug goes through several recurring half-lives before it fully disappears from your system.
Approximately, hydrocodone (Vicodin) reaches its first half-life in 3.8 hours for a normal patient using it as a prescription drug.
The acetaminophen in Vicodin has a half-life of 1.25 to 3 hours, and hydrocodone reaches a half-life of 3.8 hours on average.
In other words, it can take up to 3.8 hours for the average healthy male to eliminate half of the dose of hydrocodone/Vicodin in the system.
It is important to note that every person metabolizes a drug at different paces so the half-life of a drug will vary from person to person.
It should be noted, an answer to your question ‘how long does Vicodin last in your system’ depends on which of the systems you are focusing on.
Different drug testing methods can trace the presence of active or inactive Vicodin metabolites in your system.
Drug tests of hair or nail are for just finding the traces of inactive metabolites of the drug. This serves the purpose of detecting whether a person used the drug in the recent past or not.
However, drug tests of urine, blood, or saliva can detect active metabolites of Vicodin between a few hours to a week after the last use of the drug.
How long does Vicodin remain in the Urine?
Urine testing is the most common method the detect Vicodin in your system.
Evidence from the previous lab tests shows that Hydrocodone stays in urine for up to four days from the last use of Vicodin.
Importantly, for a person addicted to Vicodin or using it for a long period, the window for detecting Vicodin in urine may extend up to 10 days. Also, the detection window in a urine test can vary according to the healthy level of the liver and renal functions.
How long does Vicodin present in blood?
Blood tests do not give accurate results in detecting Vicodin.
As a matter of fact, a blood test is not standard for detecting opioid drugs. The drug disappears from the blood more rapidly, and for persons living an active lifestyle, it is even faster.
Nonetheless, some hospitals prefer to perform blood tests too. A blood test can detect Hydrocodone and its metabolites for up to 24 hours. However, the accuracy of the test varies from person to person.
How long does Vicodin traceable in saliva?
A saliva drug test is the most convenient and easy method to identify the use of Vicodin by a person.
However, it is important to do a blood test between 12 to 36 hours after consuming the last dose of Vicodin.
So, Vicodin stays in your saliva up to 36 hours after you seize the use of the drug.
How long does Vicodin stay in your hair?
Hair testing gives the most reliable and longest window of detection for tracing the history of Vicodin use by a person.
The metabolites of the drug stay in the hair follicles and hair strands up to 90 days after the last use.
However, when a person uses the drug only a couple of times, its metabolites may not show up in the hair. Similarly, a minimum of 10 days is necessary for the metabolites to reach the hair.
‘For how long time Vicodin stay in the user’s system’ is different from person to person.
Here are a few individual factors that decide the retention of a drug in your system:
- metabolic rate
- hydration of the body
- healthy/poor diets consumed by the user
- an active/sedentary lifestyle of the user
- body mass
- the volume of fat content in the body
- poor/healthy functioning of the liver
- poor/healthy renal function
- frequency and duration of using Vicodin
- the dose of Vicodin used
- previous history of opioid use
- health conditions of the person
- other medications used
- use of alcohol and narcotics
The effect of hydrocodone increases if alcohol is consumed while you are on Vicodin. The combination of Vicodin and alcohol has a synergistic effect. Therefore, it takes a longer time to clear opioid out of the system in alcoholics.
Hydrocodone is cleared by your body through a pathway known as cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A). Some of the other medications you are using can inhibit CYP3A4 which results in slower metabolizing of hydrocodone.
Your physician can help you with those medications to be avoided while having Vicodin.
How to eliminate Vicodin faster from your system?
In order to get rid of the Vicodin faster from your system here are a few tips you can follow:
- First of all, completely stop the use of Vicodin
- Seek addiction treatments from physicians who are experts in the field
- Use natural supplements or prescription medicines that help in detoxifying the body of drug residues
- Eat healthily and drink enough water daily
- Do daily workouts and play active sports regularly
- Seek treatments for dealing with withdrawal symptoms
How long does it take the effects of Vicodin to wear off?
On average hydrocodone reaches its half-life point in 3.8 hours. That means, fifty percent of the active ingredients in it disappear from your system in less than four hours after you consume the drug.
At this rate, within 48 hours after you have the last dose of Vicodin its active ingredients will fully disappear from your system.
However, it’s important to note that everyone metabolizes medications differently, so the half-life of it will vary from person to person.
It takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug. For most people, hydrocodone will fully clear the blood within a day, but it can still be detected in saliva, urine, or hair for much longer than that.
Usually, the pain relief effect of Vicodin does not last for more than six hours. A major portion of the metabolites of Vicodin that stays in the body for a longer time are inactive substances. They do not produce pain relief effects.
For this reason, your doctor may recommend you use a single tablet of Vicodin every four to six hours while you’re in pain.
However, if you are using the extended-release formulation of Vicodin, its effect may last up to 12 hours after each dose you have.