Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox
Last Updated: November 1, 2023
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Article at a Glance
- Oxycodone is a Schedule II opioid that can cause withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it.
- Oxycodone withdrawal is generally not life-threatening but is extremely uncomfortable.
- Oxycodone withdrawal typically starts within 12 hours of the last dose and can continue for around five days, although some symptoms may linger for months.
- A medically supervised detox can minimize your oxycodone withdrawal symptoms, setting you up for recovery.
What Is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a prescription opioid used to help people manage moderate to severe pain. It is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it can lead to dependence and addiction — even when taken as prescribed. When someone with oxycodone dependence stops using the drug or reduces their dose, they will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
If you take oxycodone, it’s important to understand the risks of dependence and addiction. You should maintain regular contact with your prescriber to minimize these risks.
If you wish to stop taking oxycodone, consult your doctor beforehand. Abruptly quitting oxycodone is not recommended; instead, you should work with your doctor or an addiction specialist to develop a tapering schedule and a long-term recovery plan before you change your dose.
What Is Oxycodone Withdrawal?
Oxycodone withdrawal is your body’s response to suddenly removing the drug from your system. When you take oxycodone regularly over a long period, your brain and body adapt to expect its presence. If you suddenly stop taking it, your brain and body struggle to adjust and recalibrate. The resulting physical and psychological symptoms are known as withdrawal.
Can Oxycodone Withdrawal Lead To Fatality?
Oxycodone withdrawal is not life-threatening in most cases, especially when done under the care of medical professionals. However, severe vomiting and diarrhea caused by oxycodone withdrawal can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and heart failure, resulting in death. For this reason, a medically supervised withdrawal is important to minimize complications and risks.
How Long Is the Withdrawal From Oxycodone?
Oxycodone withdrawal usually lasts up to five days. However, protracted withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can cause some symptoms to persist for weeks or months. It is important to remember that every person is different when it comes to oxycodone withdrawal, and the process can vary widely from one person to another.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline
Though it can vary between individuals, oxycodone withdrawal often follows a general timeline. In most cases, someone with oxycodone dependence will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours after their last dose. Symptom severity peaks 24–48 hours after the last dose and tapers off within three to five days. However, protracted withdrawal symptoms can continue for weeks or months, and some people will have a longer withdrawal time frame.
Withdrawal symptom severity can be minimized by working with a professional who can create a tapering schedule. Medical supervision and medications can also help you manage symptoms.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration
Many factors can affect the duration of oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. Common factors include:
- Degree of dependence or addiction
- Oxycodone dose
- Frequency of use
- Duration of use
- Whether other substances were used with oxycodone
- Mental health
- Physical health
- The presence of a support system (supportive family and friends)
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be profoundly uncomfortable but are usually not life-threatening. Managing oxycodone withdrawal symptoms without professional help can be very challenging, and early relapse is common among people who abruptly quit without professional care.
Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal
Physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal often include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle aches
- Flu-like symptoms
Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal
Oxycodone is powerfully addictive, and psychological withdrawal symptoms are very common. Psychological symptoms can include:
- Anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure)
- Dysphoria (a sense of unease or dissatisfaction)
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
Coping Strategies for Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Coping with oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be difficult. Treating your physical and mental health during detox is important. Focusing on self-care can minimize withdrawal symptoms and prepare you for a healthy recovery. Coping strategies include:
- Gentle exercise
- Meditation and relaxation
- Mindfulness techniques
- Support groups
- Healthy nutrition and hydration
The best way to ease your oxycodone detox journey is to seek professional assistance.
Oxycodone Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal
The detox period is when all traces of oxycodone are metabolized and excreted from the body. Withdrawal symptoms begin early in the detox period and persist after. Detoxing can be very uncomfortable, especially for those doing it without help.
People with moderate to severe oxycodone dependence should seek an evaluation with an addiction specialist before attempting to quit the drug. Most people will have the greatest chance at addiction recovery by participating in medically supervised detox and then beginning a rehab program that provides long-term treatment and support for oxycodone addiction.
Medical detox occurs with around-the-clock supervision from medical professionals who can address complications, questions and concerns. Medications that reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms can be provided when appropriate. Medical detox often involves a dose taper schedule, which can substantially reduce the severity and duration of oxycodone withdrawal symptoms.
Outpatient detox can be effective for motivated people with mild to moderate oxycodone dependence. The first step in any outpatient detox program is to have an evaluation with a medical professional. They can provide a dose tapering schedule and clearly describe what to expect throughout detox and withdrawal.
Those who wish to begin an outpatient detox program should already have strong support networks. In addition, people must be realistic and honest with themselves about their ability to resist temptation and avoid triggers. If you are concerned about relapsing, an inpatient detox program may be more appropriate.
Detoxing at Home
Oxycodone detox at home is possible for people with mild dependence but can be very difficult. Oxycodone withdrawal involves substantial changes in brain chemistry, and physical and psychological symptoms can be overwhelming. Relapse rates are very high for people who try to quit cold turkey without professional help.
If you choose to detox at home without professional advice, you should enlist a trusted friend to help you. Before stopping oxycodone, discuss your goals and why quitting is important. If you struggle with temptation, having your friend remind you why you want to quit can be helpful.
Make sure to stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet. If you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, you should have a sports drink to restore your electrolyte balance.
Quitting Cold Turkey
Quitting oxycodone cold turkey is never recommended. The most effective quitting strategy is to work with your doctor or an addiction specialist who can create a tapering plan that will gradually reduce the dose over time. Tapering is a safe and effective way to minimize withdrawal symptom severity, and it substantially increases the likelihood that someone will successfully quit.
Finding a Detox Center
Oxycodone detox centers should have a multidisciplinary staff equipped to deal with physical, psychological and medical aspects of detox and early recovery. Oxycodone is often co-used with alcohol or other drugs, so finding a facility to treat other forms of addiction may also be important.
Underlying mental health disorders can be a component of an oxycodone addiction. Medical detox and rehab facilities that provide dual diagnosis care can improve success in recovery for those with co-occurring disorders.
Other factors to keep in mind when you are evaluating a rehab facility include:
- Accreditation: Look for a program accredited by The Joint Commission or CARF International.
- Treatment options: Look for a medical detox facility that provides residential and outpatient rehab programs after medical detox. Treatment plans should be tailored to suit your needs; your progress should not be expected to follow a predetermined schedule.
- Staff-to-patient ratio: Many people in medical detox feel more comfortable having reliable access to staff. Look for a program with a low staff-to-patient ratio to ensure you have plenty of time to discuss your case with a professional.
- Location: Although the closest program may be the most convenient, it is important to make sure you choose the best program. Some people find that a medical detox program farther from home limits their access to triggers or temptations.
- Cost: Cost can be a major factor when evaluating medical detox centers. Look for a facility that works with your insurance carrier or provides grants or sliding fee scales.
How Long Does It Take To Detox?
Most people will complete a medical detox program within a week. In many cases, people who have completed a medical detox program will transition into a residential or outpatient rehab program that can help them manage the early stages of recovery.
Medications Used in Oxycodone Detox
Sometimes, a medical detox facility may provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help relieve some of the discomfort associated with oxycodone detox and withdrawal. Many medications used during oxycodone detox are long-acting opioids that interact with the same opioid receptors in the brain but do not produce the self-reinforcing high that drives oxycodone addiction.
Common drugs used during oxycodone detox include:
- Methadone: Methadone is a long-acting opioid that makes the brain think that oxycodone is present, which minimizes cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some people may use methadone for years after quitting oxycodone or other powerfully addictive opioids.
- Suboxone: Like methadone, Suboxone provides the brain with a long-lasting opioid (buprenorphine) that replaces oxycodone without producing the euphoric high. Suboxone also includes a drug called naloxone, which limits its risk for abuse. Suboxone may be a long-term strategy to manage oxycodone addiction.
- Clonidine: Clonidine is used to help people manage anxiety, agitation and physical withdrawal symptoms. Because it is not an opioid, however, it will not reduce oxycodone cravings.
Oxycodone Detox in Orlando, Florida
Orlando Recovery Center is a 93-bed rehab facility located on the banks of Lake Ellenor, just outside downtown Orlando, Florida. We employ a multidisciplinary team of addiction experts who can provide 24/7 care and support as you cleanse your body of oxycodone and begin the recovery journey.
If you or a loved one is struggling to quit taking oxycodone, help is available at Orlando Recovery Center. We understand the challenges associated with oxycodone detox and withdrawal, and our expert staff can help you return to a healthier, drug-free life. Contact us today to learn more about medical detox services and rehab programs that can work well for your needs.
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