How Long Does Tussionex Stay in Your System?

Cough Syrup Bottle

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Tussionex is a potent cough medicine containing chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine, and hydrocodone, a narcotic pain reliever. It's only available by prescription. Hydrocodone, also found in prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, is an opioid with a high potential for abuse, especially among recovering addicts.

For many people dealing with a persistent cough, codeine-based medications are highly effective and provide relief (and more importantly for some patients, help make sleep possible). But it's a good idea to know what potential problems Tussionex might present.

Tussionex and Addiction

If you're in recovery for drug or alcohol abuse, you may want to consider asking your health care provider whether this is the best cough medicine for you. Be sure they know your history in regards to drug or alcohol addiction, so they can properly assess the potential impact on your recovery. In addition to being addictive, opioids can cause problems for alcoholics in recovery who have liver disease, particularly cirrhosis.

If your health care provider believes the benefits of taking Tussionex outweighs the risks of your addiction relapsing, be sure to take it only as long as prescribed and discard any that may be left over.

Tussionex and Drug Tests

If you're taking Tussionex, be advised that it will show up on some drug tests. It may be "visible" for up to three months in many tests, but trying to estimate how long Tussionex can be detected in the body depends on many variables, including which kind of drug test is being used.

How easily Tussionex will be detected will also vary depending on the person; factors such as how old you are, your weight, your metabolism, how physically active you are and any other health conditions will all have an impact. It's not possible to determine an exact time Tussionex will show up on a drug test.

Estimated Detection Windows

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

  • Tussionex can be detected in the urine between 8 and 24 hours
  • A blood test can identify Tussionex for up to 12 hours.
  • A saliva test can detect Tussionex for up to two days
  • Tussionex, like many other drugs, can be detected with a hair follicle drug test for up to 90 days.

Preventing Overdose

As with any prescription medication, Tussionex has the potential for side effects, especially when taken with other medications. As with any medication containing hydrocodone, it's possible to overdose on Tussionex.

An overdose on hydrocodone can be fatal. So take Tussionex only as directed by your healthcare provider, and make sure they know about any other medicines or supplements you're taking.

Some symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Narrowed or widened pupils
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Coma

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect someone is suffering from a hydrocodone overdose. If caught early enough the overdose may be able to be reversed with a treatment of Narcan.

3 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. Imani F, Motavaf M, Safari S, Alavian SM. The Therapeutic Use of Analgesics in Patients With Liver Cirrhosis: A Literature Review and Evidence-Based Recommendations. Hepat Mon. 2014;14(10):e23539. doi:10.5812/hepatmon.23539

  2. American Addiction Centers. How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

  3. MedlinePlus. Hydrocodone/oxycodone overdose.

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.