Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

How Long Does Norco (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen) Stay in Your System?

Key Takeaways

How Long Does Norco Stay in Your System?

Short-acting hydrocodone will take about 20 hours to be eliminated. Meanwhile, long-acting hydrocodone might take as much as 45 hours to leave the body. The length of time Norco stays in your system will depend on factors like formulation and dose.

Even though the half-life of hydrocodone is about 4 hours, it typically takes about five half-lives for the body to completely get rid of a drug.

One way to test for hydrocodone is to use different drug testing methods, such as:


This is the most commonly used and best-developed monitoring method in drug abuse treatment programs. With a urine test, clinicians can detect hydrocodone/acetaminophen for 1 to 4 days.


With a hair follicle test, hydrocodone can be detected for up to 90 days after the last dose. 


Blood tests are also typical testing methods for Norco. You can detect hydrocodone for up to 1 day with this method.


A saliva test enables clinicians to detect hydrocodone for up to 3 days.


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How Long is Norco Detectable in a Drug Test?

Norco has a larger window for detection. This is because it stays in your body longer than other opioids. A saliva test can detect Norco for about 36 hours, while a urine test detects it for up to 3 days. 

It takes at least 10 days to detect hydrocodone in a hair test. However, its presence in the hair follicles can last up to 90 days.

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5 Factors That Affect How Long Norco Stays in Your System

Different factors such as genetics, body fat, age, liver health, presence of other drugs in the system, amount of the last dose ingested, and frequency of use can affect how long Norco stays in your system:

1. Age

Age affects several body functions, such as metabolism. As you age, your body takes longer to clear drugs.

2. The liver and kidneys

The liver and kidneys are important organs in processing and eliminating drugs from the body. Most drug metabolites are produced in the liver. In the case of Norco, liver damage will lengthen the elimination process.

3. Genetics

Your genetic makeup may affect how your body reacts and metabolizes Norco. Genetics is also a factor that can predispose one to addiction or substance abuse.

4. Frequency of Use

If you have been using Norco for years or months, your body will likely take longer to eliminate it from your system. The drug will clear your body faster if you take a few doses.

5. Your Physical Health Status

Being physically fit and healthy can affect the drug's detox time. Norco can stay in your body longer if you're unhealthy.

How to Get Norco Out of Your System 

Norco remains detectable in your system for a while, but what can you do to eliminate it from your system? You can:

  • Stop taking Norco
  • Give your body time to get rid of it
  • Consult a physician
  • Work with your doctor to reduce and stop drug intake

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What is Norco (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen)?

Norco combines two pain relief medications, hydrocodone (Vicodin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Acetaminophen is a non-narcotic, while hydrocodone is an opioid.

Norco is classified as an analgesic opioid used to treat various degrees of pain, from mild to severe. According to reports from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), about 24 million people over 12 have used Norco for non-medical reasons.

Other names for hydrocodone/acetaminophen include:

  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Elixir
  • Lorcet

How Long Does it Take for Norco to Work? 

After ingesting Norco, its effects develop in the body and brain within 30 to 60 minutes. The effects peak around 60 minutes and continue for about 4 to 6 hours.

The acetaminophen component of Norco also provides pain-relief and anti-inflammatory effects for about 3 hours. 

How Long Does it Take for Norco to Wear Off? 

Half-life refers to the time it takes for half of the drug dose to leave your body. The half-life of Norco is 4 hours.

Although the pain relief effects of Norco typically last for 4 to 6 hours, half of it would be flushed out of your system by that point. However, traces of the drug can still be detected after a few days.

Norco Withdrawal Symptoms

If an opioid use disorder (OUD) has developed, withdrawal symptoms will appear after about 6 to 12 hours. Withdrawal symptoms are physical and mental symptoms people with OUD experience when they abruptly stop drug intake. 

Symptoms of Norco withdrawal include:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety or agitation 
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of Norco Addiction

According to the DEA, hydrocodone combination products are schedule II substances. This means the drug has a high potential for abuse. It can also lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

People who get addicted to Norco and misuse it are at risk of overdose or death. Norco abuse and misuse can cause symptoms or side effects such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Fear and depression
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Liver damage
  • Liver failure

The effects of hydrocodone vary by person. If your loved one shows symptoms of addiction to this opioid, seek medical advice or treatment immediately. 

Treatment Options for Norco Addiction

Drugs like Norco expose users and patients to the risk of substance abuse, OUD, and overdose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for them. This is to ensure that the benefits of drug use outweigh the risks.

Seeking help from a psychotherapist is among the first line of action for Norco addiction treatment. Treatment options might include:

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Updated on February 6, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
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  2. “Appendix B. Urine Collection and Testing Procedures and Alternative Methods for Monitoring Drug Use.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration US, 2006, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64092/

  3. Bolser, Donald and Davenport, Paul. "Codeine and Cough: An Effective Gold Standard." Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol 7,1 : 32-36. Doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3280115145, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921574/

  4. “Hydrocodone (Trade Names: Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet-HD, Hycodan, Vicoprofen).” Drudge Enforcement Administration, Diversion Control Division, Oct. 2019, https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/hydrocodone.pdf

  5. Milone, Micheal. “Laboratory Testing for Prescription Opioids.” Journal of Medical Toxicology vol 8,4 : 408-416. Doi: 10.1007/s13181-012-0274-7, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3550258/

  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information. “PubChem Compound Summary for CID 5284569, Hydrocodone.” PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydrocodone

  7. “Opioid Analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS).” US Food and Drug Administration, 27 Sept. 2018, https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/opioid-analgesic-risk-evaluation-and-mitigation-strategy-rems

  8. Seago, Susan et al. “Change in Prescription Habits after Federal Rescheduling of Hydrocodone Combination Products.” Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Center) vol 29,3 : 268-270. Doi: 10.1080/08998280.2016.11929431, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4900766/

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