How Long Does It Take for Hydrocodone to Kick in?

Hydrocodone is about the same strength as morphine but has become one of the most frequently prescribed opioids in mixture with other drugs, most often acetaminophen. It has also become one of the most frequently abused drugs. Read more about treatment options for Hydrocodone addiction.

How Long Does It Take for Hydrocodone to Kick in?

Hydrocodone or hydrocodone/acetaminophen typically start to work within 30–60 minutes of taking a dose and peaks, or reaches the highest concentration in the blood, within an hour for immediate-release formulations. How long does it take hydrocodone to kick in? For extended-release formulations, peak concentration is reached after about 14–16 hours. As with other medications, this can be impacted by a variety of factors like other medications taken, age and whether these medications are taken with food.

What is Hydrocodone?

Hydrocodone is an opioid drug used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It’s only used to treat people who need pain relief and who can’t be treated with other medications. This drug may be prescribed following an injury or a major surgery or to treat other types of severe pain, like cancer pain or arthritis.

Hydrocodone is derived from codeine, a natural alkaloid that comes from the resin of poppy seeds. Once in the body, hydrocodone binds to and activates the mu opiate receptor to block the feeling of pain.

How Hydrocodone Works?

Hydrocodone is prescribed to be taken by mouth and therefore must pass through the digestive system before you will feel its effects. Usually, it takes about an hour to feel symptom relief. The dosage reaches peak concentration roughly 1.3 hours after it is taken.

For individuals who have developed a tolerance to the drug, it may take longer to feel relief, or the effect of one dose may not be as strong. With repeated use, the brain changes how it functions in order to accommodate the drug, and eventually, it can no longer function properly without it.

At this point, opioid withdrawal symptoms will occur when you stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms indicate that your body has developed a dependence on the drug. Dependence is when your body cannot function properly without the drug.

How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Hydrocodone to Wear off?

One way to find out how long a drug will last in the body is to measure its half-life. The half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body.

How long does hydrocodone take to kick in? Hydrocodone has an average half-life of roughly 3.8 hours in healthy adult males. In other words, it takes 3.8 hours for the average healthy male to eliminate half of the dose of hydrocodone.

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

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

Factors that Influence How Long the Effects of Hydrocodone Last

The short-acting dosage forms of hydrocodone last around four to six hours. As you may expect from the name, the longer-acting dosage forms of hydrocodone can last much longer — 12 hours or more in some cases. 

How long for hydrocodone to kick in depends on several factors such as:

  • The dosage form: Longer-acting dosage forms will typically last much longer than quick-acting dosage forms.
  • Drug interactions: Hydrocodone is mainly broken down by the liver enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 in the body. Some other medications may interfere with these liver enzymes, leading hydrocodone to last a longer or shorter period than expected.
  • Age: Hydrocodone’s effects can last longer in the elderly than in younger people.
  • Liver and kidney health: A person with a healthy liver and kidneys can break down hydrocodone quicker than a person with an unhealthy liver or kidneys.

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Hydrocodone Abuse Statistics

Hydrocodone is one of the most frequently prescribed opioids in the United States. More than 136.7 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing products were dispensed in 2013. More recently, misuse has significantly decreased from 6.9 million U.S. persons to 5.5 million in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

2.1 million

An estimated 2.1 million in the United States alone abuse opioid pain reliever medications.

Source: NIDA

136.7 million

Hydrocodone is the most frequently prescribed opioid in The United States, with more than 136.7 million prescriptions.

Source: DEA

6.9 million

There were 6.9 million people who experienced hydrocodone misuse in 2017.

Source: NIDA

Hydrocodone Drug Fact Sheet


Hydrocodone and acetaminophen combination is used to relieve pain severe enough to require opioid treatment and when other pain medicines did not work well enough or cannot be tolerated.

Brand Names

  • Anexsia
  • Ceta Plus
  • Co-Gesic
  • Dolorex Forte
  • Hycet
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Maxidone
  • Norco
  • Stagesic
  • Vicodin HP
  • Zydone

Common Side Effects

  • Stomach pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle tightening
  • Difficult, frequent, or painful urination

Serious Side Effects

  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Severe muscle stiffness or twitching
  • Loss of coordination
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, or dizziness
  • Inability to get or keep an erection
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Decreased sexual desire
How long does it take for Hydrocodone to Kick in? You should start feeling the effects of hydrocodone in under an hour.
How long does it take for Hydrocodone to Kick in? You should start feeling the effects of hydrocodone in under an hour.

Half-Life of Hydrocodone

The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes for half of a single dose to be eliminated by your body. Typically, it takes five half-lives to fully rid your system of a drug. 

How fast does hydrocodone kick in? The half-life of hydrocodone depends on whether you are taking a short- or long-acting form of the drug. The half-life of short-acting hydrocodone is 3.8 to 4.5 hours, meaning it can stay in your body for almost an entire day. In contrast, the half-life of long-acting hydrocodone is seven to nine hours, meaning it can linger in your body for about two days.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

People get tested for drugs for many reasons, including employment and legal reasons. Hydrocodone shows up on drug tests. However, the amount of time the drug can be expected to show up on a drug test depends on what part of the body is being tested. Urine, blood, hair, and saliva tests can all be conducted for hydrocodone and can detect the drug for different periods of time.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Urine?

Finally, a urine test is the most effective way to test for hydrocodone. That’s because the test is inexpensive and easy to get. It works quickly and continues to detect the drug in your system for 4 to 7 days after you use it. Urine tests for employment or legal use are usually a five, 10, or 12-panel drug test, which checks for opioids (and other drugs). Since hydrocodone is an opioid drug, it could show up on this kind of urine screening.

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How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Blood?

Hydrocodone stays in your blood for the shortest period out of any bodily substance. That’s because blood tests depend on the drug’s half-life, and like many opioid drugs, hydrocodone’s half-life is short. A half-life is the length of time it takes for your body to remove half of a typical dose from your bloodstream.

A half-life is determined by doing research with healthy male subjects, so it’s possible that it’s not the best way to figure out how long the drug can stay in your body for everyone. Women have different metabolisms than men do, and so do people live with health conditions.

How long until hydrocodone kicks in? Hydrocodone has a half-life of 3.8 hours for most people, so it could stay detectable in your blood for up to 8 hours on average. That’s why it’s unlikely that you’ll get a blood test for hydrocodone. The test would almost need to be administered while you’re still under the influence of the drug in order to have an accurate positive result!

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Saliva?

Saliva tests can detect hydrocodone for 12 to 36 hours after the last dose. It’s a short time frame, so these tests aren’t used to detect opioids very often.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your Hair? 

Hydrocodone can stay in your hair for much longer than other bodily substances. Your hair shafts can hold evidence of the drug (and its byproducts, known as metabolites) for over 90 days since the last time taken. Because the drug and its metabolites are actually stored in your hair shaft, there’s no way to speed up detox short of shaving your head! However, because of cost, this kind of drug test is still less common than a urine test.

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Types Of Hydrocodone


What Vicodin looks like white tablets with dosage amount debossed on one side and “VICODIN” on the other. Each Vicodin tablet has 300 mg of Acetaminophen and comes in 3 different dosage levels of Hydrocodone: 5 mg, 7.5 mg, and 10 mg. Generally, one tablet is to be taken every 4 to 6 hours, though addicts may take much higher doses than prescribed.


(7mg, 10 mg combined with 325 mg Acetaminophen)

What Norco looks like: white tablets with orange specks with “WATSON” debossed on one side and 913 on the other, light orange tablets with “NORCO® 729” on one side and bisected on the other, and yellow tablets with “NORCO 539” debossed on one side and bisected on the other.

Though Vicodin is by far the most common Hydrocodone prescription, Norco is still commonly used. It is most often prescribed in two strengths: 7.5 mg or 10 mg of Hydrocodone combined with 325 mg of Acetaminophen.


(5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10mg combined with 325 mg Acetaminophen)

What Lortab looks like: tablets in multiple colors depending on strength (white with pink, green, or blue specks; or wholly pink) with “ucb” debossed on one side and a number (901, 902, 903, 910) on the other. Lortab is a brand-name version of Hydrocodone similar to brands Norco and Lorcet. Snorting Lortab is a sign of drug abuse.


(10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 5 0mg)

What Zohydro looks like: white, light green, dark blue, or dark brown capsules with “Z3## [dosage] mg” in black ink. Zohydro was the first purely Hydrocodone medication approved by the FDA in 2013. The agency approved the medication against the advice of its scientific advisory board, which voted 11-2 to deny Zohydro’s approval. The addition of Acetaminophen is thought to lower Hydrocodone’s risk of abuse, causing many to question the FDA’s decision to approve Zohydro.

How long does it take for Hydrocodone to kick in?  It varies per person, but 5-15 mins is a reasonable amount of time.
How long does it take for Hydrocodone to kick in?  It varies per person, but 5-15 mins is a reasonable amount of time.

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How long does it take for Hydrocodone to Kick in? Generally speaking, hydrocodone has a half-life between four and nine hours.
How long does it take for Hydrocodone to Kick in? Generally speaking, hydrocodone has a half-life between four and nine hours.

Is Hydrocodone Addictive?

Can you get high on hydrocodone? Hydrocodone is one of the most commonly-prescribed opioid pain relievers for patients with severe pain. Due to its high potential for abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance. Substances in this classification have a high potential for abuse, which may lead to addiction.

Opioids stimulate the brain to release dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, This euphoria may make you want to take the medication again because naturally-occurring good feelings seem dull in comparison. Taking hydrocodone for just 3 to 5 days can cause physical dependence, which means you’ll experience symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking the drug.

Hydrocodone Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Hydrocodone addiction can cause changes in a person’s physical appearance and behavior. Signs of hydrocodone addiction may include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Slow breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Skin and bodily infections
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Doctor shopping, which is when you go to multiple doctors hoping to receive multiple prescriptions
  • Attempting to fill prescriptions before their refill date

Can You Snort Hydrocodone?

When a person finds that taking hydrocodone orally doesn’t produce the effects they want, they might resort to snorting hydrocodone pills. This can lead to a host of challenges for the individual.  One of the main issues with snorting hydrocodone pills is that it contains an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever called acetaminophen (paracetamol). Snorting acetaminophen could seriously irritate or damage the mucous membranes in your nasal passages. acetaminophen is known for causing gastrointestinal bleeding. Can you sniff hydrocodone? Sniffing hydrocodone can lead to serious damage.

Can you crush hydrocodone? Hydrocodone tablets are generally friable and can be easily crushed. However, doing so is discouraged as it can lead to the more rapid absorption of the drug, potentially causing problems such as overdose. Can you crush Norco? It is not advised to do so.

Snorting Vicodin / Snorting Norco

Can you snort Norco? Snorting Vicodin or sniffing Norcos sends the acetaminophen and filler materials into the respiratory tract, not just the hydrocodone. The drug enters the blood plasma more rapidly than when it is ingested orally. As a result, it can become more potent and powerful in lower doses. This is especially true if the extended-release or controlled-release formulations of Vicodin are taken in this manner

Do people snort hydrocodone? People who abuse hydrocodone or other drugs by snorting them are more likely to develop infections in the upper respiratory system, including pneumonia. There is no safe amount of snorting a Norco. Health experts state that no one should ever take the risk of Norco snorting. Snorting Norcos is a clear sign of prescription drug abuse.

Can Hydrocodone Get You High?

When it is abused, it produces a feeling of euphoria or “high.” Knowing the signs of a “hydrocodone high” may help you to distinguish the symptoms of opioid abuse and seek proper opioid addiction treatment.  Can hydrocodone make you high? A “hydrocodone high” may look different in different people, but most people have one common effect. Opiates can make people a false sense of euphoria.

What Happens If You Snort Hydrocodone?

What happens when you snort hydrocodone? When you snort hydrocodone, you deliver a concentrated dose of the opioid almost immediately to the brain. You can get high and you risk developing hydrocodone dependence, experiencing an overdose, and having adverse side effects. Snorting hydrocodone is risky and dangerous. One of the biggest risks you run is overdosing on hydrocodone.

Can You Smoke Hydrocodone?

Individuals who struggle with opioid abuse may experiment with alternate methods of use, including crushing and smoking hydrocodone tablets. Smoking hydrocodone is the second fastest way to get the drug to the brain (after injection). A person who does not want to inject the drug may try smoking to increase the pleasurable effects of hydrocodone.

Smoking Hydrocodone and hydrocodone snorting send it into the bloodstream via the respiratory system, which can then cause additional problems, such as an increased risk for lung infections, illnesses, and diseases. Chronic coughing and throat clearing are potential hazards of chronically smoking opioids.

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Hydrocodone Abuse Treatments

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment NJ 

There is a strong link between mental health and prescription drug abuse. Individuals who struggle with mood disorders like depression and anxiety are more susceptible to developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, often to self-medicate symptoms of their underlying mental health condition. These co-occurring disorders can make each other worse without proper treatment.

To determine the most effective ways to treat polysubstance, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.

Detox Treatment in New Jersey Rehab Center

The first step in treatment is a medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Centers New Jersey

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs in New Jersey treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Now that we’ve answered the question ”How long does it take for hydrocodone to kick in” and learned about its addictive properties and the risks that come along with its abuse. It is important to reach out for professional help if you or a loved one are struggling with long-term Hydrocodone side effects and addiction. Contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up rehab center in New Jersey can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

How long does it take for Hydrocodone to Kick in? Some people addicted to Hydrocodone seeking treatment have found behavioral therapy to be helpful.
How long does it take for Hydrocodone to kick in? Some people addicted to Hydrocodone seeking treatment have found behavioral therapy to be helpful.
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