Oxycodone is a narcotic pain medicine that physicians prescribe for mild-to-severe pain. It’s found in common painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet. Though it does a good job at minimizing pain by targeting nerve cells in the central nervous system, it’s also quite habit forming.
If taken as prescribed for the short-term, the risk of becoming addicted to the drug is slim, though, the risk for dependence is still there. Even those who are diligent in taking only what is prescribed are susceptible to becoming dependent on the drug mentally or physically.
However, those who misuse or abuse drugs with oxycodone are much more likely to become addicted sooner or later.
If you’ve become dependent on or addicted to oxycodone, you may struggle with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug. The severity of symptoms will largely depend on your dosage, frequency, and length of time using the drug.
Common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms include:
The length of time it takes to get through oxycodone withdrawal often varies from person to person depending on various factors. For someone who has been on the drug for only a couple of months and has taken it as directed, withdrawal symptoms may not be that uncomfortable. And, they could fully detox perhaps within three to five days.
For someone who misused oxycodone and is considered a heavy user, withdrawal symptoms may be more intense and last longer – perhaps a week or two.
The truth is that the severity of symptoms and pace at which one goes through withdrawal will depend on things such as:
A general oxycodone withdrawal timeline is as follows:
Days 1-2: You may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms as early as six hours from the last dose. Early symptoms may feel much like if you were to have the flu, including body aches, sweating, nausea, watery eyes, runny nose, and some anxiety.
Days 3-5: Symptoms tend to peak during these days, meaning some will be more intense. You may experience stomach cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, shaking, and a faster heart rate.
Days 6-7: Once you hit day six, many of the more uncomfortable symptoms may have subsided. You may regain your appetite and feel a bit more like your old self. Some report psychological withdrawal symptoms linger in this stage, such as cravings, anxiety, or depression. This is one reason you should continue to have some professional support handy so that you’re more apt to stay strong in your recovery and not fall prey to relapse.
Day 8 and beyond: Some people will feel much better once they get past the first week. The toxins associated with oxycodone will be removed from the body. There may be some lingering cravings or mood swings, but for the most part, you should feel better. You will feel stronger in your recovery, ready to continue treatment that focuses on helping you stay free from drug dependence or addiction.
If you are under the care of a physician, they will try to wean you off oxycodone to reduce withdrawal symptoms gradually. It may take several days or even weeks of slightly smaller doses of oxycodone each day. While it is not impossible and will reduce the symptoms, it can be challenging.
Unfortunately, with the nature of opioids, it may be difficult to achieve this process alone, and a person can give in to their cravings and relapse, which makes entering into a medical detoxification facility a more desirable option if sobriety is the goal.
If you’re addicted to a drug like oxycodone, detoxing is essential to break free from addiction. Going through detox allows your body to rid itself of the toxins associated with the drug. When you’re taking oxycodone, your brain gets used to the drug, so when you stop taking it, it sort of sends your brain into a tailspin. It’s become dependent on the drug, and therefore, will crave it and cause the body to go into withdrawal.
Detoxing is your first step toward recovery from addiction. However, you should never stop taking oxycodone cold turkey or abruptly. This is dangerous. Rather than up and quitting on a whim, you should undergo a medical detox with the guidance of a substance abuse professional. They will help you come up with a taper schedule, a gradual reduction of oxycodone, as this is the safest way to come off an opioid. A taper will also help when it comes to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
As you detox from oxycodone, your physician may prescribe medication to help you contend with the harsher withdrawal symptoms. Common medications include Suboxone, methadone, clonidine, and naltrexone.
Detox is merely a starting point in the continuum of care for addiction, but it can be used as a strong foundation toward lasting recovery. There are various medications used to alleviate symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, but they also can prevent a return to drug abuse, which is known as a relapse.
The primary concern for those who relapse after detox is the increased risk for a potentially life-threatening outcome. Those who leave detox and immediately use drugs can suffer from an overdose since their brains and bodies are not tolerant to the amount of drugs they used before.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly 15,000 American’s die each year due to prescription pain reliever overdoses, and nearly 175,000 sought emergency treatment for a reaction after abusing oxycodone in 2009.
Once detox finishes, the client should strongly consider moving into the next level of care. Detox does not have the capacity to treat the underlying causes of addiction and serves as the first step in a long line of care. Let’s take a look at the next step in the treatment process.
Detoxing from oxycodone is a crucial first step in the journey of addiction recovery. Whether you detox in a hospital or clinic, ongoing treatment is recommended at either a residential rehab, intensive outpatient program (IOP), or an outpatient treatment program. The level of care you require will depend on how severe your addiction was, as well as other factors such as relapse history, funds, and whether you’re able to reside at the center or not.
Many people who want to end their addiction decide to continue treatment at a residential treatment center. This means they leave home and reside at the center for the duration of treatment. Some opt to stay 30, 60, 90, or more days in treatment, depending on their wants and needs.
Residential treatment allows you to take a break from your home life and solely focus on you and your recovery. If you’re prone to relapsing, this is a great choice. You’ll be surrounded by substance abuse professionals in a safe and secure environment. You’ll be less likely to relapse.
Relapsing is most common in early recovery, so detoxing in a residential facility and then continuing your treatment is a great choice. You’ll also be able to receive individual therapy, which can be helpful in dealing with any underlying emotions or mental health disorders that could be causing challenges for you. You may also be introduced to support groups.
Some treatment centers offer IOP, which is a step down from inpatient care. You’ll attend at least 12 hours a week to complete the treatment program. You’ll get much of the same treatment you would if you were at a residential rehab. The major difference is that you reside at home and commute to your therapy and counseling sessions.
Outpatient treatment is a step down from IOP because it does not require as many weekly hours for treatment. This is a great option for those who have a mild addiction, or those who have completed the other treatment programs but aren’t quite ready to stop treatment altogether.
In general, those who commit to longer treatments tend to have better outcomes. They’re less likely to relapse and more apt to experience more peace and happiness. One reason is they take the time to dig deep to get to any emotional issues that may be going on. And, they learn and apply the many recovery techniques that are taught to them while in treatment.
Mayo Clinic. Oxycodone. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/oxycodone-oral-route/description/drg-20074193
NCBI. Alleviating Symptoms of Withdrawal from an Opioid. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4107861/
Fogoros, Richard. Very Well Mind. Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms. from https://www.verywellmind.com/oxycontin-withdrawal-symptoms-67708
Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the US | VitalSigns | CDC. (n.d.). from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/PainkillerOverdoses/index.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How effective is drug addiction treatment? from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment
Treatment, C. F. (1970, January 01). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/