Will Small Amounts Of Hydrocodone Show Up On A Drug Test?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not taking small amounts of hydrocodone will show on a drug test.


My question I’m in pain mgmt and I take norco as needed everyday. If I took 1/4 of a 5mg tablet in the morning and had a urine drug test that afternoon will it show positive even if only a trace? I need it to show up.

Asked by Ronnie On Apr 09, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Apr 10, 2018

It is likely the Norco (hydrocodone and acetaminophen) you took in the morning will show up in your urine drug test in the afternoon, especially if you have taken it within a few days before.

The two drugs in Norco are:

  • Acetaminophen (or Tylenol)
  • Hydrocodone bitartrate (or “hydrocodone” for short)

In order to determine if the drug will get through your body and show up on your urine test, we need to know how our bodies process them. Two things we look at are:

  • How fast a medication gets absorbed
  • How fast it is excreted

Our bodies absorb the drugs in Norco rapidly, taking about 2 hours to reach its highest concentration in your body. Norco also leaves our bodies fairly quickly, taking only about 4 hours for half of the dose to be flushed out in the urine.

Furthermore, if you have been taking Norco regularly, traces of the drug will remain in your body and can be detected in your urine for 2-4 days after taking the last dose. So even if you only took a small dose today, but you have been taking it the past few days, it will likely show up in your urine sample.

Since you are taking Norco as needed every day for pain management, it should mean there are still traces of the medication in your body, even if you only took ¼ of a pill this morning. If you had not taken the medication recently, there should still be traces in your urine if at least 4 hours elapsed between when you took the medication and when you gave your urine sample.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Hayden Gharibyar

Dr. Hayden Gharibyar is a Doctor of Pharmacy graduate from the University of Colorado. His areas of expertise include pharmacovigilance and drug safety.

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