Drug and Alcohol

Vicodin: How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System? Learn More About This Potent Painkiller

How long does Vicodin stay in your system? Our blog answers this and more questions about Vicodin, a potent opioid painkiller that's often prescribed.

Vicodin: How Long Does it Stay in Your System & More

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

November 13, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

In a world where pain is an all too familiar adversary, a double-edged remedy can both heal and harm:


This tiny pill can soothe suffering … or lead the unsuspecting down the path of addiction. Developed to alleviate moderate to severe pain, Vicodin is a prescription medication that combines two powerful substances: hydrocodone, a synthetic opioid, and acetaminophen, a common pain reliever.

Vicodin belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics. It is commonly prescribed for conditions such as injuries, dental procedures, and post-surgical pain. When ingested, Vicodin binds to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking pain signals and inducing a sense of euphoria and relaxation. While it provides temporary relief, the effects extend beyond pain management.

Understanding how long Vicodin stays in your system is crucial for both medical professionals and individuals who may be subject to drug tests. In this article, we will delve into the intriguing realm of Vicodin's presence in the body, exploring the factors that influence its duration, methods of detection.

Prescription drug abuse is slowly becoming the most dangerous form of drug addiction. Officials have pointed out that teenagers and young adults are the heaviest prescription painkillers users, while the elderly population is just behind them. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that about 6 percent of people over 12 in the United States of America use prescription painkillers.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin is the brand name for combining two medications, namely hydrocodone and paracetamol (acetaminophen). It is a prescription painkiller that is widely used in America. Hydrocodone is an opioid used as a cough suppressant and for pain management. Acetaminophen or paracetamol is another pain-relieving medication that goes by brand names, such as Panadol and Tylenol.

Vicodin is an opioid painkiller commonly prescribed by doctors in the country. A study pointed out an increasing upward trend in this prescription painkiller. It was reported that in the year 2006, around 112 million Vicodin doses were prescribed. This increased to 131 million in 2011. 

Vicodin or hydrocodone/paracetamol has been a legal and U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medication since 1892. It is classified under the Schedule II category of controlled substances due to its combined medicinal value and abuse potential. Hydrocodone/paracetamol is also sold under brand names like Vicodin and Norco. 

How Strong is Vicodin?

Vicodin is an oral medication that is taken by mouth. It is available legally in one formulation, which is tablet or pill form. The doctor will prescribe this medication as per the intensity of pain experienced by the individual. A tablet of Vicodin may contain 300 mg to 325mg of acetaminophen and three Hydrocodone strengths: 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg.

Most doctors prescribe a single tablet of Vicodin every 4 to 6 hours. However, people who misuse this medication will take more than that. 

What Does Vicodin Look Like?

Vicodin comes in several forms including tablets, capsules, and liquid. The tablets come in two sizes; 5/500mg and 7.5/750mg. The 5/500mg Vicodin pills are white with a scored line down the middle. Each tablet contains 500 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and 5 milligrams of hydrocodone. The 7.5/750mg Vicodin tablets are peach-colored and contain 750 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and 7.5 milligrams of hydrocodone per tablet.

The capsule form of Vicodin is known as Hydromet, and it contains both hydrocodone and homatropine. This form of Vicodin is typically used to treat severe coughing, and it's available in syrup form as well.

Finally, the liquid form of Vicodin is a combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and hydrocodone bitartrate. It has a bitter taste and is prescribed in doses ranging from one teaspoonful to one tablespoonful.

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Symptoms of Vicodin Abuse

Vicodin abuse can constitute the following:

  • Consuming a higher dose than what is prescribed by a doctor

  • Consuming more frequently

  • Consuming Vicodin even when the prescription period has ended

  • Mixing Vicodin with other harmful substances

  • Using a different form of consumption than how it is directed

  • Becoming increasingly dependent on Vicodin

How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?

Vicodin can work to relieve pain for almost 4 to 6 hours. Active ingredients like acetaminophen and hydrocodone are the main reason for this alleviation of pain. Both can remain in a healthy body's blood and urine. Hydrocodone can remain in healthy urine for up to 4 days. However, it can only stay for 4 hours in the bloodstream.

Similarly, acetaminophen can be present for up to 24 hours in urine and around 3 hours in the blood. The time mentioned here is not for people suffering from impaired kidney or liver functions.

Several factors determine the duration of the presence of Vicodin in a system. These are:

  • Body mass

  • Liver 

  • Kidney

  • Age

  • Metabolism

  • Frequency 

  • Dose

  • Multiple drug abuse

What is the Half-Life of Vicodin?

The easiest way to find the duration of the stay of any drug substance is to know about its half-life. The half-life of a drug is the period a drug takes to be reduced by half. This implies that the half-life of Vicodin would be the time Vicodin and its active ingredients take to be reduced by fifty percent. It is considered that the half-life of Vicodin is around four hours.

Since Vicodin combines two medications, hydrocodone and acetaminophen (paracetamol), we consider each of their half-lives. So the half-life of hydrocodone, on average, is about 3.8 hours, while acetaminophen's half-life can be between 1 to 3 hours. This means that, on average, Vicodin would take 19 hours to flush out from a system.

This time is not fixed for everyone as we all have different metabolism rates, body mass index, and intensity of addiction. 

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How Long Does Vicodin Last?

Vicodin is an opioid pain-management medication that relieves patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. It is a potent drug whose effect can be experienced even after 4 to 8 hours of use. Vicodin and its active ingredients can remain in our system for 12 hours. It can take a whole day/24 hours to be processed out of the system.

Like most narcotic substances, Vicodin can have several health risks. Some commonly experienced side effects of it are mentioned below. They are:

  • Fainting feeling or lightheadedness

  • Seizure

  • Dizziness

  • Anxiety

  • Being bruised easily

  • Confusion

  • Shallow breathing

  • Depressed heart rate

  • Constipation

  • Muscle pain

  • Cramps

  • Depression

Some severe health consequences include infertility, impotence, liver-related issues, high serotonin levels causing hallucinations, nausea, twitching, loss of coordination, fever, sweating, shivering, and diarrhea. 

Drug Tests & Vicodin: How Long Does Vicodin Show Up on Drug Tests?

Like most medications, it can be detected by standard drug tests. Vicodin, in particular, will get identified even after 2 to 4 days of your last Vicodin dose. Some tests can detect traces of Vicodin even after 90 days of use. Individual factors such as the amount of Vicodin dosage taken, and frequency of use will influence the detection period. The standard drug tests for detecting Vicodin are urine, saliva, blood, and hair. 

Urine Drug Test for Vicodin

Urine tests are some of the most commonly conducted drug tests. Hydrocodone can be traced by urine test within 2-4 days of last use. However, It is tough to find which drug the user took. 

Saliva/Mouth Swab Test for Vicodin

Saliva has a shorter detection window and should be conducted immediately. It can detect hydrocodone traces within 1-36 hours of use.

Blood Test for Vicodin

Blood tests are not very useful for Vicodine detection as it has a concise window of hydrocodone detection within 2-12 hours after the last use. 

Hair Test for Vicodin

Hair is a rare type of drug test with a longer detection window. It can detect most drug substances even after 90 days of use.

What Does Vicodin Do?

The medications that contain hydrocodone belong to the opiate analgesics class of drugs. Most opioid pain relievers are considered safe for shorter periods of use. Vicodin contains hydrocodone which is a synthetic opioid. This opioid works the same way opiate drugs like heroin work. They activate those same neurotransmitters that heroin does. It blocks the pain signals communicated between the brain and the body. 

However, in this process, Vicodin can release a higher level of dopamine than its natural amount. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our body that is a reward center for perceiving pleasure. It is naturally released in our body, but drugs like Vicodin lead to higher concentration levels.

Higher dopamine concentration stimulates the brain's pleasure center and generates euphoria. Euphoria is a blissful experience that many people get addicted to. To chase this euphoria, people consume Vicodin excessively, leading to abuse and addiction. 

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Is Vicodin Addictive?

Vicodin is a pain medication that is a mix of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is essential to understand that acetaminophen does not have an addictive nature. However, high doses of acetaminophen, which are common during Vicodin abuse can cause severe organ damage.

As a pain-relieving medication, it acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Vicodin blocks pain and generates relaxation, contentment, and positive feelings. Some might even feel detached from reality. Vicodin is a legal drug to be taken in pill form by mouth. However, people who abuse Vicodin can crush the tablet to snort, chew, dissolve, and inject it. 

Some misuse it by mixing it with other potent drugs to amplify the euphoric experience. This can lead to several long-term health consequences. For example, people who abuse this medication with other CNS depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines can slow their breathing down to fatal levels. Others who mix Vicidin with stimulants can get a stroke or heart failure.

Vicodin Addiction Treatment 

The misuse of precipitation painkillers impacts thousands of people. It has become one of the most dangerous forms of substance abuse. Vicodin pill dependency comes under this type of abuse too. Vicodin is a pain medication combined with medications such as hydrocodone and paracetamol. It is a central nervous depressant and produces pain relief and relaxation.

Many people become addicted to this pleasurable feeling of contentment.. Soon the situation spirals out and becomes uncontrollable. It quickly becomes a threat to both the mental and physical health of the users. Fortunately, various treatments are available to overcome this kind of addiction. 

Types of treatment available for Vicodin abuse and addiction:

Drug Detox

Opioid drug detox is a medical procedure where Vicodin gets removed from the system. The patient's body has to be cleaned before the start of the treatment. They most likely experience withdrawal symptoms that are managed with medication by the rehab team.

Forming a Treatment Plan

The patients then will go through a round of evaluation where the treatment plan formulation takes place. Your rehab team will ask about addiction, lifestyle, family history, mental and physical health evaluation, and drug tests. Afterward, the patient gets admitted to either outpatient or inpatient care.

An individualized treatment program will commence. It may include controlled medication, behavioral counseling, and individual/group therapies. A qualified and reputed drug rehab center will stay in touch with the patient even after completing the program. They schedule follow-up treatment to strengthen your sobriety. 

Vicodin Addiction is Treatable. Get Your Freedom Back from Vicodin at The Forge Recovery Center

Drug addiction is a chronic disorder that is now considered a significant threat to the public. If you or someone you care about are showing signs of addiction or struggling, seeking help is necessary. Addiction is a serious condition that needs to be treated as quickly as possible. If not, the physical and mental health of the user can worsen further, potentially leading to overdose and death.  

The Forge Recovery Center is a leading drug rehab facility in Orange County, California, dedicated to breaking the clutches of addiction. Our fully accredited center is guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, helping us create a serene, non-judgmental environment where the roots of addiction can be explored and treated safely.

Don’t deny yourself the life you really deserve. Reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today and learn about our effective, evidence-based opioid abuse treatment program.

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