How Long Does Norco Stay in Your System?

Written by Erica Weiman

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Last Updated - 1/17/2023

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Updated 01/17/2023

Norco can stay in your system for much longer than the time it takes for the effects of a dose to wear off. Even hours or days after the last time you took Norco, traces of the drug can remain in your body. If you take Norco, it’s important to know how long you can expect the drug to be in your body.

What Is Norco?

Norco is a combination of the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The drug is a Schedule II controlled substance that is used to treat pain severe enough to need an opioid. 

Hydrocodone is the drug’s addictive component and changes the way the brain manages pain. The result is a pleasant sensation of tranquility and relaxation. The drug also triggers the brain’s reward system, leading people to keep seeking it out. These effects are largely responsible for the prevalence of hydrocodone addiction in the United States.

Over time, it becomes increasingly challenging for people who take Norco to control how and when they use it. This behavior can result in addiction.

How Long Does Norco Take to Work?

Norco takes around 10 to 30 minutes to kick in. Its peak effects take around 30 minutes to an hour to set in. Norco doesn’t start working immediately because the drug is taken by mouth and needs to dissolve in your GI tract before it gets into your bloodstream.

How Long Does Norco Last?

A dose of Norco usually lasts between 4–6 hours. However, certain factors can influence whether it lasts a longer or shorter amount of time.

If a person has liver damage, the acetaminophen component of Norco may last longer than expected. The liver breaks down Norco using an enzyme called CYP3A4. Some medications interfere with CYP3A4, meaning that Norco can last in your system for a longer or shorter time than expected. Your pharmacist will be able to tell you if you take any medications that interact with Norco, but some examples include:

Medications that can make Norco wear off faster than expectedMedications that can make Norco last longer than expected

Norco Half-Life

The half-life of Norco is about four hours. A half-life is how long it takes a person’s body to eliminate half the amount of the drug from their bloodstream. Because it takes five half-lives for your body to remove a drug from your system, Norco is usually eliminated from a person’s body within 20 hours of the latest dose. However, the drug can be detectable for much longer when utilizing drug tests.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Your System?

Traces of the hydrocodone component of Norco can stay in your system for hours or days after the last dose, which far exceeds how long the pain-relieving effects of Norco can last. The length of time that hydrocodone can be detected depends on what is being tested. 

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Urine?

Urine screening is commonly used to look for evidence of Norco in a person’s system. Norco and its breakdown products can be detected in urine for up to three days after the last dose.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Blood?

Norco can be detected in blood for almost nine hours after a dose.

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Hair?

A 1.5-inch hair sample can detect if Norco was used within the past 90 days

How Long Does Hydrocodone Stay in Saliva?

Norco can be detected in saliva up to two days after the last use.

Hydrocodone and Breastfeeding

Hydrocodone shows up in breastmilk and can be passed to a breastfeeding baby. For this reason, experts recommend avoiding opioids like hydrocodone during breastfeeding, or limiting hydrocodone intake to a maximum of 30mg total daily. If a baby shows signs of opioid intoxication, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms in a baby include:

  • Increased sleepiness 
  • Increased problems breastfeeding
  • Problems breathing 
  • Limpness

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Factors Affecting How Long Norco Stays in Your System

Many factors influence how long Norco stays in your system. These include:

  • Norco dose: The higher the dose of Norco, the longer it is likely to stay in your system
  • How often you take Norco: If you take Norco on a regular basis, it may take longer to clear the drug from your system than if you don’t take it frequently.
  • Age: Older people may clear Norco more slowly than younger people, especially if they have liver problems.
  • Health conditions: Some health conditions, like liver problems, can make Norco last in your system longer than expected.
  • Other medications: Some medications may cause Norco to last a longer or shorter period of time than it typically would.

Norco Withdrawal: Symptoms and Timeline

If you take Norco regularly over the long term and suddenly stop, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms often start within 12 hours of the last dose, peak

within 1–2 days, and improve over the next 3–5 days. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased tear production
  • Sweating 
  • Runny nose 
  • Yawning 
  • Enlarged pupils 
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Agitation 
  • Anxiety 
  • Diarrhea

Norco Addiction and Signs of Abuse

Hydrocodone-acetaminophen products like Norco are the 15th most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States, and more than 10 million people a year take them. Further, between 21 and 29% of people on opioids like Norco misuse them. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of signs of Norco misuse:

  • Spending a lot of time seeking Norco
  • Borrowing, buying, or stealing Norco from others
  • Exaggerating symptoms to try to get Norco prescriptions
  • Going to different doctors and pharmacies to try to obtain Norco

Addiction Treatment and Rehab

If you or a loved one struggle with Norco, help is available. A medical detox program can help wean you off Norco while minimizing the risk of withdrawal symptoms, and rehab can help keep you off Norco over the long term. 

The Recovery Village Columbus offers inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization rehab programs to help support you in your recovery. Our facility, on 6.5 acres outside Columbus, Ohio, offers a variety of amenities to support your body and mind, including:

  • Art studio and art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Two gyms 
  • Recreation room 
  • Pool table 
  • Shuffleboard

If you or someone you know struggles with Norco misuse, call The Recovery Village Columbus today. Equipped with a personalized treatment plan and support in recovery, patients can overcome the challenges of addiction and live a happy, healthy life.

View Sources

Texas Health and Human Services. “Onset, Peak and Duration of Common Pain Medications.” Accessed March 17, 2022. “Norco.” March 1, 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “National Practice Guideline for the Trea[…] Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed March 17, 2022.

Hallare, J; Gerriets, V. “Half Life.” StatPearls, August 23, 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.

Gryczynski, J; Schwartz, RP; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-repor[…]isk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed March 17, 2022.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” October 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.

Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” n.d. Accessed March 17, 2022.

ARUP Laboratories. “Therapeutic Drug Monitoring – TDM.” June 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.

ClinCalc. “Acetaminophen; Hydrocodone.” Accessed March 17, 2022.

National Library of Medicine. “Hydrocodone.” October 23, 2019. Accessed March 17, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid Overdose Crisis.” March 11, 2021. Accessed March 17, 2022.


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