Note: Since these substances are related, please refer to Codeine Facts for more information on precautions, interactions, mechanism of action and effects.


Hydrocodone is a semisynthetic opiate agonist and is similar to other phenanthrene derivatives, such as codeine. Hydrocodone is a hydrogenated-ketone derivative. Hydrocodone is only available in combination with other agents and is used as an analgesic and as an antitussive. As an analgesic, hydrocodone is used to treat moderate to moderately-severe pain and is available combined with paracetamol (acetaminophen), ibuprofen or aspirin as tablets, capsules and liquid preparations. It is also available as an antitussive in combination with phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, guaifenesin, pyrilamine, pheniramine or chlorpheniramine.

Listen to the correct pronunciation of the word hydrocodone (hye-droe-koe-done).


Related information: codeine precautions


Related information: codeine interactions


Hydrocodone can be administered orally, intramuscularly, subcutaneously (skin popping), intravenously, rectally, and intranasally (sniffing or snorting).


For cough suppression and the treatment of moderate pain to moderately-severe pain including the relief of dental pain (eg toothache), headache, migraine, back pain, bone pain, arthralgia and myalgia:

Related information: codeine dosage


When administered orally, hydrocodone is well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Hydrocodone undergoes complex hepatic metabolism via O-demethylation, N-demethylation, and 6-keto reduction to the corresponding 6-alpha- and 6-beta-hydroxy active metabolites. A small portion of hydrocodone is converted to hydromorphone by cytochrome P450-2D6 (CYP2D6); however, hydromorphone does not seem to have a major role in the effects profile of hydrocodone.

The plasma half-life is about 3.8 hours.


The effects start in 10-30 minutes. Peak effects occur in 30-60 minutes and last for 4-6 hours. The effects of hydrocodone are about 6 times stronger than those of codeine but the general effects profile of hydrocodone is very similar to that of codeine.


With hydrocodone tablets that may include other substances, such as paracetamol, the extraction method is the same as with codeine.

Drug testing

Following the administration of hydrocodone, the following substances can be detected up to 48 hours after (depends upon the dose, its frequency, route of administration and urine excretion/dilution) hydrocodone and hydromorphone.

Opioids can be detected in urine, blood, bile, hair, nails and sweat.


NameHydrocodone sulphate
Chemical name4,5-alpha-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methyl-Morphinan-6-one sulphate
Alternative chemical namesdihydrocodeinone sulphate
CAS Number
Chemical formulaC18H21NO3.H2SO4
Molecular weight397.48
NameHydrocodone bitartrate
Chemical name4,5-alpha-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methyl-Morphinan-6-one tartrate
Alternative chemical namesdihydrocodeinone tartrate
CAS Number34195-34-1
Chemical formulaC18H21NO3.C4H6O6
Molecular weight449.50
pHca 3.6 (2% aqueous solution)

Hydrocodone 2D molecule
Chemical name4,5-alpha-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methyl-Morphinan-6-one
Alternative chemical namesdihydrocodeinone
CAS Number125-29-1
Chemical formulaC18H21NO3
Molecular weight299.37
Melting point198C

Hydrocodone occurs as needle-shaped crystals. It is freely soluble in water (1g in 16ml) and alcohol, and almost insoluble in ether and chloroform.

Related information: download 3D model of hydrocodone molecule