How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System?

Vicodin is the brand name of a drug that is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is the active ingredient found in many types of pain pills and is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine, an opioid alkaloid found in the opium poppy. Hydrocodone alone is an opioid pain medication and is considered a narcotic. Vicodin is used to treated moderate to severe pain and a doctor’s prescription is required to obtain it. Patients are generally prescribed after surgery, injury, or to combat chronic pain. Vicodin is a powerful drug and it can become an addictive substance. Vicodin’s street names include Vics or Norcos. Vicodin can be swallowed, snorted, or injected and its risk for physical and psychological dependence is high. The Drug Enforcement Administration has Vicodin as a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse and is considered dangerous. Previously, it was a Schedule III drug, a class with very few regulations. As a Schedule III drug, a prescription for Vicodin can be renewed up to five times before a patient must see their doctor again. Under Schedule II, a patient is only able to receive one 90-day prescription of Vicodin before seeing their doctor again. Recently, Vicodin has increased in popularity and many people have become addicted to the drug, contributing to the current opioid epidemic. Deaths from prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have more than quadrupled since 1999. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
how long does vicodin stay in your system
The main ingredients in Vicodin date back to the late 19th century. Acetaminophen was first created from a coal-tar distillation by-product. Hydrocodone was synthesized by a German pharmaceutical company named Knoll in 1920. Later, in 1978, Knoll combined the two ingredients to create Vicodin and five years later, a generic version was made available.

Directly following Vicodin’s creation, the use of hydrocodone skyrocketed. From 2005 to 2010, emergency room visits involving recreational use of hydrocodone more than doubled in the U.S. In 2005, there were 47,194 emergency room visits, and in 2011 82,480 were reported. The rise of Vicodin continues and according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, more than 136 million hydrocodone pills were dispensed in 2013. That makes it the most prescribed opioid in the U.S. Vicodin was one of the most commonly used forms of hydrocodone.

Its main ingredient, hydrocodone, is a narcotic analgesic. That means, it connects to the proteins in the brain and spinal cord called opioid receptors. Opioids interfere with pain signals that are on the way to the brain in an effort to change your perception of pain, as well as your emotional reaction to it. The euphoric feeling can become easily addictive and as a result, many people use more Vicodin or for a longer period of time than they should. Over time your body may need more of the drug to reach the same effects.

Side effects associated with Vicodin use:

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

Drug interactions are possible when taking Vicodin with alcohol, other pain medications, opioid antagonists, drugs for sleeping issues or anxiety, and muscle relaxants. These interactions can affect how your medications and work and put you at an increased risk for serious side effects.  These more serious side effects include slow/shallow breathing and severe dizziness/drowsiness.

A Vicodin overdose can occur when someone intentionally or accidentally takes too much of the drug, or combines it with other drugs, to make a lethal combination. There are several reasons why someone but intentionally or accidentally take too much Vicodin. They may be trying to hurt themselves, they may be addicted to Vicodin, or they might be trying to get high or become intoxicated.

Addiction to Vicodin is a serious matter. Vicodin can cause dangerous and detrimental effects. Even without an overdose, the high amounts of acetaminophen in Vicodin, combined with the opioid is extremely hard on the liver and over time it can cause inflammation, scarring, and permanent liver damage. Additionally, the slowing or digestive and respiratory systems can also cause chronic constipation and intestinal damage, as well as leave the user susceptible to respiratory infections and lung problems.

Vicodin overdose symptoms include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Spasms of the stomach or intestinal tract
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma
  • Possible seizures
  • Shallow breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • No breathing
  • Blush-colored fingernails and lips
The half-life of Vicodin, or the time period required for the concentration of the drug in the body to be reduced by one-half, is approximately 3.8 hours. If a physical addiction has developed, it takes about 6 to 12 hours for withdrawal symptoms to appear. A drug test will usually detect Vicodin’s ingredient Hydrocodone. The various options for Vicodin testing include:

  • Urine testing – The most common way to detect Vicodin, it’s a painless and simple way to test what’s in your system. Hydrocodone is detectable up to four days after Vicodin consumption. The window for detection is long for chronic, heavy use, but you must wait about 45 hours until a urine test will show hydrocodone. However, urine samples are often thought to be unreliable.
  • Blood testing – This is not the recommended test to detect Vicodin use.
  • Salvia testing – This is the most convenient way to test for immediate Vicodin use. Salvia testing must be done in the days directly after use, preferably between 12 and 36 hours after last use. Before 12 hours Vicodin will not be detectable, and after 36 hours traces of Vicodin will be gone.
  • Hair testing – Testing a hair sample is the most reliable way to test the body for drugs. This is because traces of drugs stay in your hair follicles for up to 90 days after use. However, in the case of detecting the ingredient hydrocodone, it can take 10 days for a hair sample to show the drug. For immediate testing results, salvia and urine are the most appropriate.
  • Testing date – The longer you wait to be tested, the lower the chances are Vicodin will show up.
  • Dosage – The amount of Vicodin take will add up. People who use Vicodin sparingly will have a small amount of hydrocodone in their system, while people who use it regularly will have a larger amount for longer periods of time.
  • Hydration – Drinking water can dilute urine, making the concentration of drug molecules lower and harder to detect.
  • Metabolism – The rate of metabolism varies greatly from person to person. The quicker your metabolism, the faster the drug residue will leave your organisms. Your metabolism is dependent on your age, sex, and other genetic predispositions and environmental factors.
  • Overall health – If you have liver issues or damage, you can have problems metabolizing Vicodin, which means the drug will stay in your system much longer. You may test positive for weeks after Vicodin intake.
  • Diet – Healthy eating and a balanced diet can help you rid Vicodin of your system faster.
  • Exercise – Exercising or any type of physical activity, boosts your metabolism and cardiovascular system, affecting how long drugs stay in your system.
  • Use of other medications or drugs – The past or present use of other substances can affect how long Vicodin stays in your system. Interactions between different substances can also take place in your body.
  • Body mass/body fat content – Long-term, heavy use of Vicodin can cause the opioid to be stored in fatty tissue, keeping traces of the drug in the body for even longer periods of time. The more body fat a user has, the more hydrocodone will be absorbed, especially if the liver is already damaged and the body’s metabolism has become compromised.
The safest and most practical way to get Vicodin out of your system is to stop taking it. This process can be difficult, especially if you are physically or psychologically addicted to Vicodin. Detox is a safe way to be monitored by medical professionals while toxins like Vicodin are eliminated from your system. Following detox, addiction treatment is recommended to ensure proper healing from addiction and prepare you to live a life free from all harmful substances.
How Long Does Vicodin Stay in Your System
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