Many people take the prescription drug Vicodin – a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone – to manage short-term pain after a surgery or injury. When used as prescribed, this medication can bring relief to people who are hurting. However, because Vicodin is an opioid, it carries a high potential for abuse and overdose. Users who become addicted to the drug’s euphoric, relaxing effects can become reliant on them, continuing to seek illegal sources of Vicodin after their prescription has expired.
As a Vicodin addiction worsens, you may use the substance differently than directed, take increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effects or experience drug cravings when they’re sober. How long does Vicodin stay in your system, and what might happen when you quit using this drug?
How Long Does It Take for Vicodin’s Effects to Run Their Course?
One way to determine how long a drug will last in your body is to measure its half-life – or the time it takes for your body to metabolize and eliminate half the medication.
On average, Vicodin’s pain-relieving effects last between four and six hours. However, traces of hydrocodone and acetaminophen will remain in your body for a few days, because it takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug. You should also know that everyone metabolizes medications differently, so the half-life will vary from person to person.
For most people, hydrocodone will clear the blood within a day. While you are taking Vicodin, a drug screening test might find enough opiates in your urine to test positive for two to four days after your last use, and in your saliva for 12 to 36 hours after your last use. A hair follicle test could show Vicodin use for up to 90 days.
How long it takes your body to flush out all signs of Vicodin will vary depending on several factors.
- Body mass and fat content
- Liver health
- Amount of the last dose taken
- Presence of any other drugs in the system
- How long use has been going on
Vicodin and Withdrawal
The longer you abuse Vicodin, the more your body will become accustomed to having the medication in your system. Vicodin and other opioids can quickly cause a physical dependence because of the way they affect the brain’s reward pathways.
Even if you are careful and only use small amounts of Vicodin as prescribed, you can still experience withdrawal symptoms such as confusion and anxiety as the drug leaves your body.
Trying to cut back on your Vicodin use or quit cold turkey can lead to the following uncomfortable symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Sleep disruptions
- Flu-like body aches, chills and weakness
The time it takes to experience withdrawal varies depending on the user. It’s also essential to note that both long- and short-term Vicodin use can cause these symptoms when you taper off or quit use.
Where to Seek Help for a Vicodin Addiction
If you have been abusing opioids such as Vicodin, the right treatment plan can help you change your life for the better. Vista Taos Renewal Center provides accredited substance abuse programming in beautiful Taos, New Mexico. Our holistic addiction services transform our clients’ lives for the better. Please reach out when you’re ready to learn more about restoring your physical, mental and spiritual health with us.