How Long Does Norco Stay In Body System?

Last Updated: December 18, 2019

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

How long it takes for Norco to leave the system will differ from one person to another. While the half-life of Norco and individual factors may significantly influence the timeframe, it can be anywhere from 18-24 hours. Understanding how long Norco stays in the system is fundamental, as medication may bring risks of dangerous side effects and interactions with several different substances.

Norco Half-Life

When discussing how long Norco stays in the system, it helps to understand the term half-life. It refers to the amount of time needed for half of the dose of the drug to be excreted from the bloodstream. As Norco ingredients include hydrocodone and acetaminophen, it is necessary to consider both their half-lives.

Norco Detection Windows

A Norco drug test is typically done for evidence of misuse. The presence of opioids like hydrocodone and their metabolites is what Norco shows up as on a drug test. If one has to be clear from this medication, he or she will have to wait for at least 18-24 hours. However, timing may still vary significantly, depending on the area of the body being tested. Traces of this drug can remain in certain areas well beyond 24 hours.

  • In the blood, Norco will reach its peak levels within approximately 1.3 hours. Blood tests can detect this drug by up to 24 hours after intake.
  • Norco urine drug test is popular for screening and effective at detecting short-term use. It is effortless to perform. How long Norco stays in the system for a urine test dramatically depends on the dosage used and its peak plasma concentration. The body can quickly excrete a 10 mg dosage of this drug in the urine. Evidence showed that hydrocodone can reach its peak concentration in the urine from 3.5 to 7 hours after the last use and can remain detectable for a range of about 2-4 days.
  • Similar to other drugs, traces of hydrocodone are detectable for the most prolonged period in the hair follicles, 90 days or approximately three months after intake.
  • Oral tests that use a swab to collect a saliva sample from the inside of the cheek can detect hydrocodone anywhere between 12-36 hours after the last use. However, the positive detection rate of hydrocodone is lower for oral fluid tests than for urine tests.

drug test blank

Factors Affecting The Duration Of The Drug In The Body

How long does Norco stay in the system? While two people can take precisely the same Norco dosages at around the same time, excretion may still vary.


Depending on the user’s age, some organ system and other body functions may work better than others.


Genes also play a huge role in determining how long it takes for Norco to get out of the system. This drug, along with other opioids, is metabolized through two significant enzyme systems, CYP450, and UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs). Genetic variations, causing differentiation in the quality and quantity of coenzymes, can significantly affect how one metabolizes drugs.


Prescribed dosages also depend on one’s weight, height, and fat composition. Someone who is taking more than what is prescribed will take longer to get rid of hydrocodone from the system. The type of drug used is also significant because of varying strengths. For example, Norco vs. Vicodin differs in a way that Vicodin only contains 5 mg of hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen. On the other hand, Norco has three different strengths- 5, 7.5, and 10 mg of hydrocodone and 235 mg of acetaminophen.

samples of urine for dug tests

Frequency of Intake

How long Norco stays in the system is also affected by the rate of intake. Someone who has been using too much Norco for months or years is understandably going to take longer to be freed from the drug as compared to people who have only taken a few doses.

The usual concentration being used by regular people would yield less effect on them. This will result in taking more doses, hence making it extremely difficult to flush them all out from the system.

Kidneys and Liver

Both the kidneys and the liver are essential for drug metabolism and excretion. Well-functioning organs can be considered as the safest and the fastest way to get Norco out of the system. Any damage in either organ will significantly affect and prolong the elimination process.

Drug Combinations

Another factor that may affect how long Norco is in the system is the use of combinations. The use of tramadol and hydrocodone together will not only prolong their presence in the system but likewise cause a heightened effect. The same is valid with Norco mixed with ibuprofen. For those who are wondering if they can take ibuprofen with Norco, the answer is yes. This combination is often used for a short time, usually less than ten days, to help relieve moderate to severe pain. However, to reduce the risk of stomach bleeding and other side effects, this must be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

Why It Is Important to Know How Long Norco Stays in the System

There can be several reasons one might want to know about Norco drug testing and how long can the drug be detected in the system.


People often have to complete drug screening for employment. It is now a common workplace mandate not only for first-time applicants but also for those who are returning to work after an unexplained absence or involved in accidents where damages, injuries, or loss of life may have been caused by negligence or impairment.

If one wants to get in on any of these job offers, he or she has to be familiar with this drug’s specific window of detection on all possible tests.

job interview


Others need Norco drug test information for health reasons. Understanding Norco half-life and how long it will typically stay in the system will help in pain management, monitoring withdrawal symptoms and treatment compliance, and rehabilitation such as chemical dependency treatment plans.

If one plans to have a baby, it is also essential to clear this drug entirely from the system. Taking Norco while pregnant is highly discouraged. Many are asking if Norco is an opioid as it contains hydrocodone and acetaminophen. It is, and it falls under FDA pregnancy category C. They show an adverse effect on the fetus during animal reproduction studies. While there are still no adequate and controlled studies in humans, it is not recommended due to potential risks.

Drug interactions

Some drugs and substances can also negatively interact with Norco. For example, alcohol causes a synergistic effect when taken with this drug. Aside from making it more difficult and longer to clear the drug from the system, it causes severe side effects slow or shallow breathing, severe dizziness, and allergic reactions, including Norco itching. Sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, and cough relievers may cause breathing problems too.

Norco may likewise interfere with specific laboratory tests such as amylase and lipase levels. This will cause false-positive results. Knowing how long Norco stays in the blood, urine, or system will help decide when to start taking a new drug safely or performing a test.


Others need it for an insurance policy. Determining how long Norco stays in the system and the lowest possible dose of Norco can help screen people for drug misuse or addiction.

Relying on observations of aberrant behavior is often not as effective in detecting people who are misusing drugs.

How to Get Rid of Norco From the Body

There are several ways to speed up the removal of Norco from the system. It has to begin by cutting off the source. However, this has to be done slowly because if one abruptly stops taking the drug, Norco withdrawals may cause symptoms like anxiety, trouble sleeping, irritability, unusual sweating, and muscle aches.

Aside from abstinence, another effective way to flush out the system from this drug is to take fluids regularly. Apart from water, herbal teas and fruit juices can also help remove toxins. Weight loss can help too because fat cells often serve as storage for poisons and drugs. Exercise can help burn fats and lose weight.

These are just some natural ways on how to get Norco out of the system faster. However, detox programs from the best drug rehabilitation facility with the help of health care professionals, remain to be the most effective treatments for drug users.

Page Sources

  1. Sven M Guenther, Travis C Mickle, Andrew C Barrett, Kathryn Ann Roupe, Jing Zhou, Vincent Lam. Relative Bioavailability, Intranasal Abuse Potential, and Safety of Benzhydrocodone/Acetaminophen Compared with Hydrocodone Bitartrate/Acetaminophen in Recreational Drug Abusers. Pain Med. 2018 May; 19(5): 955–966.
  2. Krishna Devarakonda, Kenneth Kostenbader, Michael J Giuliani, Jim L Young. Comparison of single-dose and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics between two formulations of hydrocodone bitartrate/acetaminophen: immediate-release versus biphasic immediate-release/extended release. J Pain Res. 2015; 8: 607–618.
  3. Cao JM, Ma JD, Morello CM, Atayee RS, Best BM. Observations on hydrocodone and its metabolites in oral fluid specimens of the pain population: comparison with urine. J Opioid Manag. 2014 May-Jun;10(3):177-86.

Published on: June 9th, 2017

Updated on: December 18th, 2019

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


Leave a comment

  • Diane Cole
    I’m researching info about absorption & length of time Norco stays in your system. I had a strange incident recently & don’t understand. I’ve been on Norco 10 for about 13 yrs under a pain clinic. They’ve always done urine test sporadically which have never concerned me cause I’m very careful about following directions. I had taken one at 4:00 pm the previous day, missed the 3rd dose going to bed early, & when the urine test was done at 11:00 am the next day I was told Norco didn’t show up? I am a post gastric bypass patient 13 yrs but it’s never been an issue before. I’ve always told Dr I didn’t think I was absorbing full dosage causing it to not last but about 2-3 hrs but this is bothersome. It happened one other time a yr or so ago but only twice in 13 yrs? Can anyone help? Thanks!
  • Cindy
    Does lortab and Norco test the same of the UA?
  • Joe
    I take hydrocodone 7.5 4 x a day to work i had an unusual job the past 2 wks ive been doong flooring down on my hands and knees really hurting my spine and sciatica. As a result of 18hr days I’ve had to take 5 instead of 4 for 10 days now im short on my count and be out in a few days.i have 10 days to my dr visit which btw is only my 2nd visit. My pcp previously had me on oxycodone 10/325 and they worked so much better and lasted longer. I feel honesty is the best policy in this situation but am afraid of being kicked out of my clinic.