How Long Does Vicodin Stay In Your System?

After a severe injury or major surgery, your doctor may prescribe a narcotic painkiller, Vicodin. It provides quick relief from pain. It’s the brand name of a drug made up of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.

However, it has a high likelihood of misuse. 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 worthwhile to explore.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is the brand name for an opioid medication like morphine for relief from severe pain. The main ingredients in it are acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Usually, it’s prescribed for oral surgery and outpatient procedures

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine, an opioid alkaloid found in the opium poppy. It is a prescription medication used to treat pain from injury, after surgery, or to combat chronic pain.

Also, this pain control medication is available under different brand names such as Norcos or Vics.

It is available in pills, injections, or inhalation solutions. Its risk of psychological and physical dependence is very high.

The Drug Enforcement Administration classified Vicodin as a Schedule II drug. Vicodin abuse chances are high, especially for those who have a history of substance abuse.

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 its hydrocodone ingredient. Hydrocodone quickly affects your body by connecting to 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 and your sensory reaction to it.

Hydrocodone creates a euphoric feeling in the brain that eases pain and calms the mind. This drug, however, can easily become addictive because of its euphoric effects.

It is a schedule II controlled substance that a practitioner can allow the patient to use for a maximum of 90 days. Over time, your body 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:

  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness

Drinking alcohol while on Vicodin medication may cause drug interactions. This drug may not go well with other medications, which are opioid antagonists.

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 like Vicodin and an opioid is extremely bad for the liver. Eventually, it can lead to liver inflammation, scarring, or functional issues with the liver.

Additionally, acetaminophen and opioids can gradually slow down respiratory and digestive functions, cause constipation, and damage the intestine.

Furthermore, prolonged Vicodin use in overdoses can cause respiratory infections and other lung problems.

Important symptoms of a Vicodin overdose include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • low blood pressure
  • weak pulse
  • muscle spasms in the stomach
  • pinpoint pupils
  • drowsiness
  • seizures
  • breathing difficulties
  • coma.

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 passes through several half-lives before disappearing from your system.

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 has a half-life of 3.8 hours on average. Generally, one dose takes at least 18–24 hours to leave the body.

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 significant to note that everyone metabolizes a drug at different paces, so the drug’s half-life will vary from person to person. It also depends on dosage, person’s age, height, weight, and body fat composition.

An answer to your question, ‘how long does Vicodin last in your system,’ depends on which system you focus on.

Different drug testing methods can trace your system’s active or inactive Vicodin metabolites.

Drug tests on hair or nails are for finding 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 and a week after the last use of the drug.

How long does Vicodin remain in the urine?

Urine testing is the most common method to detect Vicodin in your system.  A urine test can show traces of drug use even after the effects of the drug have worn off.

Previous lab tests show that hydrocodone stays in the urine for up to four days from the last Vicodin use.

Importantly, for a person addicted to Vicodin or using it for a long period, the window for detecting Vicodin in the urine may extend up to 10 days. Also, the detection window in a urine test can vary according to the healthy level of liver and renal functions.

How long does Vicodin remain in the blood?

Blood tests do not give accurate results in detecting Vicodin.

A blood test is not standard for detecting opioid drugs. The drug disappears from the blood more rapidly, and it is even faster for people living an active lifestyle.

Nonetheless, some hospitals prefer blood tests. A blood test can detect hydrocodone and its metabolites for up to 24 hours. However, the test accuracy varies from person to person.

How long does Vicodin traceable in saliva?

A saliva test is the most convenient and easy method to identify Vicodin use.

However, it is imperative to do a blood test between 12 and 36 hours after consuming the last dose of Vicodin.

Vicodin can be detected in saliva for up to 36 hours after you stop using the drug.

How long does Vicodin stay in your hair?

Hair testing gives the most reliable and longest detection window for tracing Vicodin addiction history.

The traces of the drug stay in hair follicles and hair strands up to 90 days after the last use.

However, when a person uses the drug only a few times, its metabolites may not appear in the hair. Similarly, a minimum of 10 days is necessary for the metabolites to reach the hair.

Determining factors

The time it takes for hydrocodone to leave the system varies for every user,

Here are a few individual factors that decide the retention of a drug in your system:

  • metabolic rate
  • hydration of the body
  • healthy or poor diets consumed by the user
  • an active/passive 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

Hydrocodone’s effect increases if alcohol is consumed while you are on Vicodin. The combination of Vicodin and alcohol has a synergistic effect. Therefore, it takes longer for opioids to clear out of the system in alcoholics.

Your body clears hydrocodone through a cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) pathway. Some of the other medications you are using can inhibit CYP3A4, which results in slower metabolizing of hydrocodone.

Your physician can help you avoid those medications while having Vicodin.

How to eliminate Vicodin faster from your system?

To get rid of Vicodin faster from your system, here are a few tips you can follow:

  • First of all, stop taking Vicodin
  • Seek addiction treatment from physicians who are experts in the field
  • Use natural supplements or prescription medicines that help detoxify the body of drug residues
  • Eat healthily and drink enough water daily
  • Do daily workouts and play active sports regularly
  • Get an addiction treatment program for dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

How long does it take for the effects of Vicodin to wear off?

On average, hydrocodone reaches its half-life point in 3.8 hours. That means fifty percent of its active ingredients disappear from your system in less than four hours after consumption.

At this rate, within 48 hours after taking the last dose of Vicodin, its active ingredients will fully disappear from your system.

However, it’s worthwhile to note that everyone metabolizes medications differently so the half-life will vary from person to person.

It takes several half-lives to eliminate a drug. For most people, hydrocodone will fully clear the blood within a day. However, it can still be detected in saliva, urine, or hair for much longer than that.

Vicodin’s pain relief effect does not last for more than six hours. A major portion of the Vicodin metabolites which remain in the body for a long time is inactive substances. They do not relieve pain.

For this reason, your doctor may recommend you use a single Vicodin tablet every four to six hours while you’re in pain.

However, if you use the extended-release formulation of Vicodin, its effect may last up to 12 hours after each dose.

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