How Long Robitussin AC Stays in Your System

Cough syrup being poured onto spoon. Medical concept
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How long Robitussin AC is detectable in the body depends on several variables, including which type of drug test is being used. Robitussin AC—which contains guaifenesin (an expectorant) and codeine (a narcotic cough suppressant)—can be detected for a shorter time with some tests, but can be "visible" for up to three months in other tests.

The timetable for detecting Robitussin AC in the system is also dependent upon each individual's metabolism, body mass, age, hydration level, physical activity, health conditions, and other factors, making it almost impossible to determine an exact time Robitussin AC will show up on a drug test.

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which the codeine product in Robitussin AC can be detected by various testing methods:

  • Urine. Robitussin AC can be detected in a urine test for up to 48 hours.
  • Blood. Blood tests for Robitussin AC can detect the drug for up to 24 hours.
  • Saliva. A saliva test can detect Robitussin AC for 1 to 4 days.
  • Hair. Robitussin AC, like many other drugs, can be detected with a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days.

Avoiding an Overdose

You need to know how long Robitussin AC stays in the system to avoid taking too much too quickly and having an accidental overdose. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of a codeine overdose:

  • Bluish skin (fingernails and lips)
  • Breathing slow and labored
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches
  • Tiny pupils
  • Spasms of the stomach and intestines
  • Weakness
  • Weak pulse

If you or someone in your care has overdosed on Robitussin AC call 911 (or your local emergency number) for immediate medical help.

Another option is the calling the national Poison Control help line at 1-800-222-1222. The hotline is a free and confidential service that can be reached any time of day. It does not have to be an emergency for you to call. The help line will connect you with an expert in poisoning who can advise you of what steps to take next (as well as what you should not do if someone has overdosed on a medication).

Robitussin AC and Alcohol Reaction

Because Robitussin AC contains codeine, consuming alcohol while using the cough syrup can increase the risk of overdose and cause other negative reactions, including drowsiness and dizziness.

Taking Robitussin AC can make you feel sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Alcohol can intensify these effects.

Mixing alcohol with Robitussin AC may cause you to have problems concentrating or performing some mechanical tasks; make it more dangerous to drive; and increase the risk of falls and serious injuries.

Drinking alcohol while using Robitussin AC is especially dangerous for women and older people. When women drink, the alcohol in their bloodstream usually reaches higher levels than in a man's bloodstream. Aging slows down the body's ability to metabolize alcohol, leaving higher concentrations in the system of older drinkers longer.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Addiction Centers. How Long Does Codeine Stay in Your System?

  2. MedlinePlus. Codeine overdose.

  3. American Addiction Centers. Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Codeine.

  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Some Medicines and Driving Don’t Mix.

  5. Harvard Health Publishing. Ask the doctor: Why does alcohol affect women differently?.

  6. Harvard Health Publishing. Alcohol and age: A risky combination.

Additional Reading

By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.