Hydrocodone is not tested on standard drug screening tests (SAMHSA-5 panel) as it doesn’t breakdown to produce morphine. Many other types of tests are available that can be used for testing the presence of Hydrocodone in the body system. Urine tests, saliva tests, hair tests, and salivary tests are the common testing modalities used for this purpose.
The urine samples are collected and sent for urinalysis in the laboratories. It’s a common modality of testing due to convenience and non-invasiveness. Since the majority of the drug gets excreted through kidneys, urine samples are effective for testing Hydrocodone. The drug remains detectable for up to 2 days after the last dose. Some studies have detected the presence even up to 7 days of the last dose. One thing to note is that Hydrocodone can test positive for longer durations in the females and carry a more probability for positive urine tests of Hydrocodone.
About 20-50 hair follicles are collected from the scalp of the user. They must be at least 3 cm in length. A drawback associated with the test is its incapability to detect a recent ingestion. This is because hair takes some time to accumulate the drug. The hair follicle tests stays positive for about 90 days. Some of the techniques that are used for hair analysis are ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assays) and GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry). The amount of drug in hair samples is proportional to the ingested amount of Hydrocodone. Hair tests are expensive but are accurate and provide a longer detection period for Hydrocodone.
An adequate quantity of oral fluid is collected from the person. Salivary tests are not as popular in cases of Hydrocodone as it is more difficult to detect the presence of the drug in comparison to other testing modalities. However, the advantage is that the positive results can be attained within few hours of last ingestion. Hydrocodone stays detectable for one day whereas Norhydrocodone can be identified for up to 2 days. The drug usually doesn’t get secreted in saliva so detection window is short. GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) technique is used for the detection in salivary samples.
This is not a preferred modality of testing for the detection Hydrocodone. The reason is the invasive nature and a short window of detection. Hydrocodone becomes detectable in blood in about 1.5 hours and stays identifiable for about 24 hours after the last ingestion. The tests are, however, reserved for the hospitalized patients. They are used for determining precise levels and monitoring of drug levels in case of toxicity and overdose.