Oxycodone is an opioid medication that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone suppresses the nervous system by blocking and slowing nerve signals, including those that transmit pain. Oxycodone also stimulates the release of brain chemicals called endorphins, which leads to a high. When someone takes oxycodone solely to experience a high, they are misusing the drug and have likely developed an oxycodone addiction.
Those who develop an oxycodone addiction will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using oxycodone. This result happens because oxycodone addiction leads to a condition called dependence, which occurs when the body becomes used to the presence of oxycodone in the bloodstream and adjusts its regular functions to accommodate the oxycodone. When oxycodone is no longer available, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms occur.
Oxycodone detox is the process of allowing oxycodone to clear from the bloodstream and allowing the body to resume its normal functioning without oxycodone.
How Long Does it Take to Start Withdrawing from Oxycodone?
The process of withdrawing from oxycodone will typically start about 8 to 24 hours after the last dose. The timeframe for oxycodone withdrawal will vary depending upon the amount of oxycodone used, how frequently oxycodone is used and the metabolism of the person taking oxycodone. Those with liver or kidney problems and those who are older may take longer to metabolize the drug, and therefore start experiencing withdrawal symptoms later.
Withdrawal symptoms may start in minutes if someone takes the drug naloxone, as this drug reverses the effects of oxycodone and creates the same symptoms that would be experienced once the bloodstream is clear of oxycodone, even if there is still oxycodone within the bloodstream.
What Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal from Oxycodone?
People who are considering quitting oxycodone often wonder, “What are the withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone?” Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be physical and psychological. Withdrawing from oxycodone is not usually dangerous for healthy adults, but it can be unpleasant.
Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal
The physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal are related to the dependence that occurs during an oxycodone addiction. Oxycodone naturally suppresses the neurological system, slowing the transmission of nerves and slowing the processes that those nerves control.
When oxycodone is removed, the parts of the body that are suppressed by oxycodone dependence become overactive. This reaction creates physical symptoms that are the opposite of the symptoms that oxycodone creates. Physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:
- Muscle soreness and achiness
- Increased tear production
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Abdominal cramps
- Dilated pupils
Anxiety and flu-like symptoms can start during the early stages of withdrawal and the abdominal symptoms will occur later in the withdrawal process.
Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal
While the physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal are fairly predictable for most people, psychological symptoms of withdrawal will be much less predictable and will be influenced by multiple factors, including the background of the person going through withdrawal and the psychological factors that initially influenced them to start using oxycodone.
Those who started using oxycodone to cope with emotional or psychological stress may find the psychological symptoms of withdrawal much worse than others. Psychological symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Sad mood
- Emotional numbness
- Increased stress
- Lack of motivation
- Rapid changes in mood
Rarely, and in severe cases, psychological withdrawal symptoms may include suicidal thoughts. Psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may be worse for someone who has an underlying mental health disorder. The length of psychological withdrawal symptoms is unpredictable and may last for significantly longer than psychical symptoms do. Those who go through therapy during and following the withdrawal process may be less likely to experience severe or prolonged psychological symptoms.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline
There are stages of oxycodone withdrawal that are somewhat predictable. Initially, there will be a period after the last dose of oxycodone is taken where no withdrawal symptoms are experienced. This period can last for about 8 to 24 hours. The oxycodone withdrawal symptoms timeline starts after this initial period, once the amount of oxycodone in the bloodstream drops below what it usually was.
As levels of oxycodone drop, early physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal will start. These will include flu-like symptoms. These early symptoms eventually transition into later stages of oxycodone withdrawal, which involves severe sweating and symptoms that occur from an overactive intestinal tract. Psychological symptoms are less predictable and will not follow a clear timeline. These symptoms will typically be more evident once physical symptoms have subsided and may be present for months.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration
The oxycodone withdrawal symptoms duration will depend upon multiple factors, but will typically be a maximum of seven days for most people. Some of the factors that can affect the oxycodone withdrawal duration include:
- The frequency with which oxycodone was used
- How long oxycodone was used for
- The dose of oxycodone used
- The person’s age
- If other substances were also misused
- How oxycodone was used
- If medications such as methadone are used in the withdrawal process
It is rare that oxycodone withdrawal symptoms will last for more than seven days. However, there are several factors that might make it longer. Oxycodone withdrawal can be as short as four to five days for some people.
Oxycodone Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal
Oxycodone detox can be difficult to go through due to the withdrawal symptoms that can occur during the detox process. Fortunately, there are different oxycodone withdrawal treatment options that can make withdrawal easier. While some people may choose to use these treatment options, others will opt to quit “cold-turkey” without any tapering or medical assistance.
Medical detox involves detoxing with the assistance of medical treatments. Someone partaking in a medical detox may quit using oxycodone suddenly, but use other medications to treat withdrawal symptoms as they develop. Another form of medical detox is tapering oxycodone use. This method involves taking a progressively smaller dose of oxycodone over a period of days or weeks. Tapering allows for far less severe withdrawal symptoms, but it will take longer to complete the detox. Medications such as buprenorphine or methadone can help relieve the cravings for opioid medications without creating the same risks as oxycodone. Transitioning from oxycodone to buprenorphine or methadone should only be done under strict medical supervision and only after consulting a physician. Outpatient detox involves detoxing without being admitted into a rehab facility. This process still involves regularly visiting a doctor and maintaining regular appointments during the detox process. Outpatient detox can make it possible for someone to pursue a medical detox, but will not address medical needs as quickly as an inpatient detox could. Detoxing from oxycodone at home can be difficult and is less likely to be successful than detoxing with medical supervision. People attempting detoxing off oxycodone at home will benefit from having someone else with them to help them and support them through the detox process. During withdrawal from oxycodone, home remedies can include over-the-counter medication to help with nausea, pain and diarrhea. Eliminating excessive free time will decrease the risk that people consider returning to drug use. While detoxing from home may work for some, it is unlikely that this type of detoxing will work for most people.
Medical detox involves detoxing with the assistance of medical treatments. Someone partaking in a medical detox may quit using oxycodone suddenly, but use other medications to treat withdrawal symptoms as they develop.
Another form of medical detox is tapering oxycodone use. This method involves taking a progressively smaller dose of oxycodone over a period of days or weeks. Tapering allows for far less severe withdrawal symptoms, but it will take longer to complete the detox.
Medications such as buprenorphine or methadone can help relieve the cravings for opioid medications without creating the same risks as oxycodone. Transitioning from oxycodone to buprenorphine or methadone should only be done under strict medical supervision and only after consulting a physician.
Outpatient detox involves detoxing without being admitted into a rehab facility. This process still involves regularly visiting a doctor and maintaining regular appointments during the detox process. Outpatient detox can make it possible for someone to pursue a medical detox, but will not address medical needs as quickly as an inpatient detox could.
Detoxing from oxycodone at home can be difficult and is less likely to be successful than detoxing with medical supervision. People attempting detoxing off oxycodone at home will benefit from having someone else with them to help them and support them through the detox process.
During withdrawal from oxycodone, home remedies can include over-the-counter medication to help with nausea, pain and diarrhea. Eliminating excessive free time will decrease the risk that people consider returning to drug use. While detoxing from home may work for some, it is unlikely that this type of detoxing will work for most people.
Dangers of Quitting Cold Turkey
Withdrawing from oxycodone cold turkey (quitting suddenly without dose tapering or additional medical treatments) presents a unique set of challenges if no medical management is available.
Cold turkey oxycodone withdrawal will usually not be dangerous for most people, but someone considering a cold turkey withdrawal from oxycodone should definitely consult with their doctor to make sure they are not at an increased risk of dangerous side effects while quitting. Cold turkey oxycodone withdrawal will be unpleasant and put the person who is quitting through the most extreme withdrawal symptoms that they could experience. While it is unlikely that quitting cold turkey will be fatal, it will likely be quite unpleasant and is not recommended.
Can You Die from Oxycodone Withdrawal?
People considering quitting oxycodone may sometimes wonder, “Can you die from withdrawal from oxycodone?” Technically, someone can, especially if they are frail and attempt to quit cold-turkey without any additional support. But while it is technically possible to die from oxycodone withdrawal, it is very unlikely.
Those who struggle with negative health effects while withdrawing from oxycodone often experience these effects due to the dehydration caused by sweating, vomiting and diarrhea. Oxycodone withdrawal can be more dangerous if it is paired with withdrawal from other substances at the same time. Oxycodone withdrawal may also be more dangerous for those with a history of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.
Finding a Detox Center
There are many options for oxycodone detox centers, and finding the right one will require the consideration of multiple factors. Some important factors to consider while finding the right detox center include:
- Reputation – Look at each treatment center’s public reviews and consider the reputation of their treatment plans.
- Cost – Explore payment options and insurance coverage while examining different detox centers. Keep in mind that inexpensive detox centers may cost less because they are less effective.
- Treatment offered – Some detox centers will offer a one-size-fits-all treatment plan, while others will offer multiple types of detox options. Some facilities only offer detox services, while others offer rehab that focuses on maintaining sobriety.
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How Long Does it Take to Detox?
Those wanting to detox from oxycodone will often ask, “How long does it take to detox off oxycodone?” A specific oxycodone detox timeline will vary based on the individual and the type of treatment used. If tapering, the detox process will take as long as the taper lasts. Because everyone’s body and drug use history is different, detox times vary from person to person.
Medications Used in Oxycodone Detox
There are multiple medications that can be used to treat oxycodone withdrawal. Oxycodone withdrawal medication reduces the physical craving for oxycodone without creating a high like oxycodone does.
Oxycodone withdrawal medications can also block the effects of oxycodone and other opioids, making it difficult to return to regular oxycodone use. By using treatment that includes medication, oxycodone withdrawal can be made less challenging. For someone experiencing oxycodone withdrawal symptoms, treatment with medications may lessen the severity of those symptoms and make the withdrawal process easier. Some of the medications used to treat oxycodone withdrawal include:
- Methadone. People who use oxycodone will often ask, “Does methadone help with oxycodone withdrawal?” In some cases, especially for those who have struggled to quit using oxycodone in the past, using methadone to detox from oxycodone can be effective. People have been using methadone for oxycodone withdrawal for decades and it remains an effective method for treating oxycodone withdrawal.
- Suboxone. More recently, using Suboxone for oxycodone withdrawal has become more popular than using methadone. Suboxone helps reduce cravings for oxycodone while making oxycodone ineffective in the body. Suboxone also is more difficult to overdose on than methadone and is not likely to become addictive, as opposed to methadone which may become addictive. Using Suboxone to detox from oxycodone is becoming more more popular, both with those attempting to detox and with medical professionals, due to how well it works.
- Clonidine. Clonidine is another medication that can help reduce the symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal. Clonidine use can help alleviate symptoms and is not typically an addictive substance by itself. Clonidine is not used commonly during oxycodone withdrawal but may be an effective tool in reducing withdrawal symptoms in severe cases.
Benefits of Professional Detox
There are several benefits to choosing to use a professional detox treatment plan instead of attempting detox at home. Firstly, at-home detox will be very uncomfortable. A professional detox program provides people with the resources to help manage the symptoms that occur during detox.
Another significant benefit to professional detox treatment is that the likelihood of success is much higher than if attempted at home. Professional detox is conducted according to a plan created by professionals who are experts at helping people address their addictions. By following a professional treatment plan, a person’s chance of successfully detoxing is much higher than if they attempted detox on their own.
Professional detox also allows a person to detox while being monitored by professionals. While the risk of dying during an oxycodone detox is low, there are some side effects that can be dangerous. Detoxing under the supervision of a trained professional can reduce a person’s anxiety as well.
Key Points: Understanding Oxycodone Withdrawal and Detox
Keep the following key points in mind when considering oxycodone withdrawal and detox:
- Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms start 8 to 24 hours after the last dose of oxycodone and typically lasts for up to seven days
- Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable but are rarely dangerous
- Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological
- There are many medical treatments that help with oxycodone withdrawal symptoms
- Attempting to detox at home can be very uncomfortable and is not likely to be successful
- There are medications that can help treat oxycodone withdrawal and oxycodone addiction
While these points apply to oxycodone withdrawal and detox in general, everyone’s particular situation will be different. Someone who has questions about a particular situation should ask their doctor about their individual case.
If you struggle with oxycodone addiction, reach out to The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help you. The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health utilizes individualized treatment programs that cater to each client’s specific needs. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
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O’Malley, Gerald; O’Malley, Rika. “Opioid Toxicity and Withdrawal.“ Merck Manuals, March 2018. Accessed July 13, 2019.
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Berger, Fred. “Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.” Medline Plus, May 5, 2018. Accessed July 13, 2019.
Medscape. “Methadone (Rx).” April 2019. Accessed July 13, 2019.
Medscape. “Buprenorphine/naloxone (Rx).” May 2019. Accessed July 13, 2019.
Medscape. “Clonidine (Rx).” October 2018. Accessed July 13, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.