OxyContin, a brand name of extended-release oxycodone, is a strong, prescription opioid used to manage long-lasting and severe pain. However, it is incredibly addictive. It is highly addictive because of the way it was designed by its manufacturers, as well as how it works in your brain.  OxyContin was designed to stay in the body for a long time. Unlike oxycodone instant-release formulations like Roxicodone, OxyContin was designed with a long-lasting formula that releases slowly. Because of this type of release, it takes even longer for the body to get rid of it completely. This makes the detox process particularly difficult. 

How Long Does OxyContin Stay in Your System

How long OxyContin stays in your system depends on where you look in the body. Typically, Oxycontin is detectable in blood samples for the first 24 hours after using the drug. How long does OxyContin stay in your urine? When measuring urine samples, OxyContin is typically detectable for about three to four days. Although the drug does not stay in the system for very long, the effects of OxyContin withdrawal last much longer.

Oxycontin Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal from OxyContin is not a pleasant process. Withdrawal starts when a person stops consuming OxyContin. OxyContin withdrawal effects can start four to eight hours after the last dose of OxyContin is taken. OxyContin withdrawal symptoms timelines differ from person to person, but generally follow a similar trend of side effects of OxyContin withdrawal.

Factors Influencing OxyContin Withdrawal

OxyContin withdrawal works the way it does because of how it works in the brain. OxyContin works on both opioid systems as well as dopamine. Together, these chemicals are a recipe for disaster for addiction. Dopamine is the chemical that has rewarding properties and keeps a person coming back for more to seek that “high.” The actions of OxyContin on the opioid system are also particularly unique. It all comes down to the stimulation of the receptors for opioids by OxyContin, particularly in a region within the brainstem called the locus coeruleus. OxyContin stimulates the opioid receptors in the locus coeruleus excessively, leading to a decrease in the activity of another chemical called norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline). However, when OxyContin is no longer present, these opioid receptors can no longer inhibit norepinephrine, and there is a rebound of excessive norepinephrine chemical release. This leads to symptoms during the withdrawal process such as anxiety, muscle cramps, and diarrhea.

There are also other factors that influence the time course of OxyContin withdrawal. These important factors include: the frequency at which OxyContin was taken, the general amount of OxyContin consumed, if the drug dose was tapered off, overall health, physical exercise and exertion (which can make withdrawal last longer), and, finally, other medications or drugs a person is or was taking (such as benzodiazepines).

1 to 2 Days After the Last Dose

As the drug first begins to leave the brain and body, OxyContin withdrawal generally starts on the first day with cold or flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, appetite loss, anxiety, runny nose and extreme sweating. These symptoms occur as a result of the loss of opioid receptor stimulation in the locus coeruleus. These first few days are when a person is most at risk for experiencing a setback because of the dopamine system, which instigates a person to return again and again to the drug.

3 to 5 Days After the Last Dose

During the next few days the loss of inhibition within the locus coeruleus becomes even more pronounced as more and more norepinephrine is released. As the body continues to detox from OxyContin it will experience some of the worst and hardest physical symptoms of withdrawal: nausea, vomiting, shaking, cramps and muscle aches.

5 to 10 Days After the Last Dose

Over the next few days, the physical withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin will begin to disappear, but they will be replaced by strong psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. This switch occurs because your body has rid itself of OxyContin and is dealing with the rebound effects of the drug no longer being in the brain.

10 Days and Longer

At this stage, OxyContin has left the body and the majority of the physical withdrawal symptoms will have ended. But the psychological effects will likely continue past day 10. Experiencing guilt is often common during this time. Cravings for OxyContin can also still occur long after the drug is out of the system. It is important during this time to have a strong support system to avoid relapse. Seeking counseling or other forms of professional help during this time may also be necessary to cope with the psychological effects of OxyContin withdrawal and detox.

Where to Find Help for OxyContin Withdrawal in South Florida

Oxycontin withdrawal relief is available if a person is willing to seek treatment. Thankfully, there is drug detox available in south Florida. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Heatlh to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can address a substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorders. Take the first step toward a healthier future, call today.

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.