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How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?

by | Published on Aug 16, 2021 | Drug Addiction, Opioid Addiction

vicodin in your system

Vicodin is a popular opioid painkiller that treats moderate to severe pain. Usually, people receive a prescription after oral surgery or outpatient procedures to treat chronic or back pain. Like other opioids, Vicodin comes with a high potential for abuse and can accumulate in your system for several weeks. 

It’s widespread for people that take Vicodin to mix it with alcohol and other substances to enhance its effects. However, doing so increases their risk of overdose, and opioids slow heart and breathing rates. It can also cause liver damage or liver failure after long-term use. 

What is Vicodin?

vicodin tabletVicodin 5 mg-300 mg tablet

Imprint: 5 300 VICODIN

Vicodin (hydrocodone) is a prescription drug that belongs to the opioid family that includes hydrocodone and acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It’s derived from codeine, a natural alkaloid that comes from poppy seeds resin. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain to block the feeling of pain. 

Because it has a high potential for abuse and addiction, Vicodin is a federally controlled substance. The extended-release formulations (Hysingla ER and Zohydro ER) come with tamper-proof pills that are hard to crush, break, or dissolve to prevent misuse and abuse. 

How Long Does Vicodin Last?

Vicodin is available orally and needs to be absorbed by the digestive system before its effects kick in. Most people start to feel the effects of Vicodin within the hour. On average, Vicodin reaches peak concentrations in the bloodstream about 1.3 hours after ingestion. 

People who take Vicodin will often develop a tolerance to the drug. In this case, it may take longer for them to experience the effects of Vicodin. When this happens, this should be considered a red flag and initial signs of addiction. 

How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?

The half-life of Vicodin, meaning the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body, is roughly 4 hours. However, this is an average estimate for healthy adults. The real-time it will take Vicodin to stay in your system will depend on factors such as age, metabolism, history of substance abuse, and more. 

A drug test will detect traces of the drug’s active ingredient hydrocodone, here’s how long will it pick up traces:

  • Urine test: up to 4 days
  • Blood test: don’t detect the drug
  • Saliva test: between 12 to 36 hours after last use
  • Hair test: up to 90 days in hair follicles after last use

What Makes It Last Longer

Besides your metabolism, age, and overall health condition, some factors affect how long dextroamphetamine stays in the system. These circumstances include:

  • Liver damage: Since the liver helps metabolize medications, someone with an unhealthy liver will take longer to break down opioids and other substances.
  • Age: Older adults take longer to break down medications. The average half-life for opioids in an older adult is about 24 hours after their last dose of hydrocodone. 
  • Obesity: The half-life of Vicodin is about 4 hours. For someone with obesity, this could be closer to 22 hours – almost twice as much as the average-sized person. 
  • Alcohol use: Combining opioids with alcohol can lead to dangerous side effects, including overdose. Alcohol can make drugs stay longer in the system. Eventually, more doses will create buildup in the system that could lead to overdose. 

Symptoms of Overdose

A Vicodin overdose can occur intentionally or unintentionally. Even without an overdose, the high amounts of acetaminophen in Vicodin can be harmful to the liver in large quantities. Over time, Vicodin can cause inflammation and become the onset of cirrhosis of the liver. Additionally, Vicodin is metabolized by the digestive system too, which can lead to intestinal damage. 

The most common symptoms of Vicodin overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Wear pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma
  • Shallow breathing
  • No breathing
  • Blush-colored lips and fingernails 

How to Get Vicodin Out of Your System?

The safest way to get Vicodin out of your system is to stop taking it. However, if someone is already psychologically or physically addicted to Vicodin, this process can be challenging. Vicodin withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening but can lead to relapse and overdose. 

The safest way to get Vicodin out of your system is with medical detox. 

In this type of setting, patients receive medication-assisted treatment to taper off the drug safely. Through this approach, clinical staff can ensure the patient’s safety and their withdrawal experience is as comfortable as possible. 

What If I Develop an Addiction?

More than changing dosages and prescriptions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be incredibly helpful in dealing with substance abuse. 

In this form of therapy, patients learn why their substance abuse started in the first place and how they can cope with their symptoms more healthily. Therapists work with patients to recognize different triggers and situations that can cause stress and anxiety to patients. Then, they both work on healthy mechanisms to deal with these triggers without reaching for drugs.

Getting Help for Substance Abuse

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, ask for help immediately. Please, call the Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs. Don’t hesitate to call for advice, diagnosis, or treatment questions.

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:

  • Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at treatment centers, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process. 
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Since many long-term addicts often struggle with mental health disorders, a dual diagnosis program can get them the help needed to treat both conditions simultaneously. 
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs: When patients seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that gives people access to the help they need. 

To seek help, call us at 866-308-2090 today and learn more about our rehab programs.

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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