If you are in an immediate emergency, call 911. If you are looking for more information on substance abuse treatment and it is not a medical emergency, call our 24/7 OxyContin Helpline at 877-326-2794.
OxyContin is a slow-acting, extended-release form of the opioid oxycodone. This powerful drug is used as a pain reliever, but it carries a high risk of abuse, dependence and addiction. OxyContin dependence and addiction can be very difficult to recover from alone, as quitting the drug can lead to withdrawal. OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are quite uncomfortable and can be dangerous or even fatal in some cases. Due to these risks, you should never attempt to quit OxyContin on your own. Instead, you should seek professional care through a medical detox program that provides 24/7 support and helps treat OxyContin withdrawal symptoms.
What Causes OxyContin Withdrawal?
People with OxyContin dependence or addiction often go through powerful physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when they quit the drug. This happens because of how the drug works in the brain. OxyContin causes physical changes in neurons — the primary cells in the brain — mostly through their actions on opioid receptors and the chemical dopamine. OxyContin causes excessive release of dopamine and can also lock into the dopamine receptors within the brain. Over time, this will trick a person’s brain into thinking it doesn’t need to produce as much dopamine. As a result, a person who stops taking OxyContin will have less dopamine in their brain than they should.
Some of the worst opioid withdrawal symptoms are caused by changes in a brain system called the locus coeruleus. Brain cells in the locus coeruleus produce the chemical noradrenaline and send it to other parts of the brain, where it stimulates wakefulness, breathing, blood pressure and alertness. When OxyContin sticks to opioid receptors in the locus coeruleus, it causes an overall decrease in noradrenaline activity. This results in drowsiness, slower respiration and lower blood pressure.
When OxyContin is no longer present in the brain to suppress the locus coeruleus, the neurons release too much noradrenaline because their activity is now enhanced. This causes jitters, anxiety, muscle cramps and diarrhea.
OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms
OxyContin withdrawal effects are similar to those of other opioid pain medications, such as Percocet or Roxicodone. They can be more severe depending on how the drug was used (snorted or injected, for example) and how large the typical dose was. OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are generally both physical and psychological in nature.
Physical Effects of OxyContin Withdrawal
The physical effects of OxyContin withdrawal are often unpleasant. Sometimes, they can be dangerous or even fatal. Physical OxyContin withdrawal effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Congestion and runny nose
- Reduced appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Blurry vision
- Shivering or goosebumps
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
Psychological Effects of OxyContin Withdrawal
OxyContin withdrawal can also have profound mental effects, which is partly due to the depletion of dopamine levels within the brain. Psychological OxyContin withdrawal effects include:
- Mood changes
- Anger or agitation
OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline
OxyContin withdrawal effects can be quite uncomfortable, but the actual duration of symptoms isn’t incredibly long. Typically, the worst symptoms come and go within the first week or two. Here is a general timeline of the OxyContin withdrawal process:
- Days one to two: OxyContin withdrawal generally starts with flu-like symptoms on the first day. Mental withdrawal symptoms, such as mood changes, are typically seen on the second day.
- Days three to 20: Once withdrawal symptoms fully set in, they can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks or longer. In most cases, they peak at 72 hours and gradually reduce over the course of the next two weeks.
Although the worst symptoms typically pass within a few weeks, less severe side effects like OxyContin cravings can last for much longer.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration
There are several factors that can affect the length of OxyContin withdrawal, including:
- How much OxyContin a person was normally taking
- How the person was taking OxyContin
- Whether OxyContin use was tapered off
- Overall physical and mental health of the individual
- Physical exercise and exertion (this can actually make withdrawal last longer)
- Other medications or drugs a person is or was taking
OxyContin Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal
The term “detox” generally refers to the process of becoming drug-free. There are detox treatment centers available, but some people choose to detox from OxyContin on their own at home.
When an individual undergoes detox at a treatment facility, medical support and withdrawal symptom treatment are usually involved. This is not the case when someone detoxes at home, meaning there is little relief for uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms that arise.
Detoxing at a professional treatment center is the best way to detox from OxyContin. Treatment facilities have specific procedures in place to help individuals detox from OxyContin, including medical detox. In medical detox, patients have around-the-clock support from trained medical professionals and can receive immediate treatment for life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This makes detoxing at a treatment center the safest option for OxyContin withdrawal and detox. People who are in poor health or were consuming high doses of OxyContin should consider going through a treatment center to receive medical detox.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is when medications are used for OxyContin withdrawal. MAT can be used when a health care professional determines that it may be helpful as part of the medical detox program. There are many different medications that can be used for OxyContin withdrawal. Most of these are for managing withdrawal symptoms like nausea, diarrhea or effects on the cardiovascular system.
OxyContin Detox at Home
Although the best way to detox from OxyContin will differ from person to person, it is important to consider the differences between medical detox and detoxing at home. Medical detox at a professional facility is safer than OxyContin detox at home. This is because medical professionals are available to provide around-the-clock care throughout the detox process. While detox centers may not have the comforts of home, they do have mechanisms in place to keep people safe.
Not everyone can have a family member or friend take care of them 24/7 while they attempt to detox at home. At a detox facility, a medical professional will always be there. Further, patients at professional treatment centers have access to medications used in OxyContin detox, such as Suboxone. These opioid-mimicking drugs can be a critical part of the recovery process for some people.
When an individual is away at a detox center, they are also removed from certain triggers that might lead to relapse. Detoxing at a professional facility is safer, and it also tends to be more effective. Studies have shown that this is particularly true when comparing medication-assisted treatment to detox without drug assistance.
If you make the decision to detox from OxyContin at home, withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage. However, there are things you can do to help cope with withdrawal, such as:
- Taper the dose of OxyContin: Individuals can avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms by tapering down the OxyContin dose normally consumed. Tapering is when an individual takes progressively smaller doses of OxyContin over a long period of time, ranging from weeks to months. Do not attempt to taper before discussing an individualized tapering schedule with your doctor.
- Exercise: Exercise can be very therapeutic, and it also reduces stress and anxiety.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation: Learning how to accept the present moment through mindfulness techniques or meditation can help you cope with cravings and urges that occur during the withdrawal process.
These strategies can help with at-home OxyContin detox withdrawal symptoms, but they may not be enough. Sometimes, professional detox may be needed.
After detox, the next step in the recovery process typically involves OxyContin rehab treatment. Medical professionals can help determine which treatment option may be best for a patient based on their personal situation. Available options include:
- Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient care
Inpatient treatment involves living at the rehab facility, which removes people from stressors and potential triggers so they can focus on their therapeutic goals without outside distractions. After inpatient treatment, a person may step down to a PHP, IOP or outpatient program depending on the level of care they need.
Outpatient rehab allows patients to live at home and travel to a treatment facility for scheduled medical visits and counseling. Outpatient rehab helps individuals work toward recovery while maintaining aspects of their normal daily life, like attending work or school. Individuals who are in good mental and physical health and do not require close monitoring are good candidates for outpatient rehab. For these people, outpatient treatment may be a suitable option after completing detox.
We can help answer your questions and talk through any concerns.
Dangers of Quitting Cold Turkey
Withdrawal symptoms that occur when quitting OxyContin “cold turkey” can be particularly severe. Two symptoms in particular pose a large risk: vomiting and diarrhea. Both vomiting and diarrhea can cause someone to lose a lot of water in a short period of time. When this happens, an individual’s blood pressure can drop dramatically, which can lead to cardiac arrest or heart failure. This is much more likely to happen when someone tries to quit OxyContin cold turkey, and it is also why it is very important to have medical assistance available when going through OxyContin detox. Additionally, this is why it’s helpful to follow a tapering schedule created by a medical professional. If you taper off your OxyContin dose gradually, the symptoms will be much less severe.
Can You Die from OxyContin Withdrawal?
OxyContin can cause a variety of dangerous symptoms; in fact, it is actually possible for death to occur during OxyContin withdrawal. The symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal are much more severe if an individual is quitting cold turkey. This sudden OxyContin withdrawal can cause dangerous heart problems like cardiac arrest. As a result, OxyContin withdrawal death is a real possibility if the detox process is not taken seriously.
How Long Does It Take To Detox?
How long it takes to detox from OxyContin will depend on a number of factors. Some of these factors include:
- How long was the person on OxyContin?
- How much OxyContin were they consuming, and how often?
- What method (snorting, smoking or injecting) was the person using to consume OxyContin?
- Was the person on any other medications that might interact with OxyContin? Are they still on those medications?
While symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal usually last up to 20 days, detox can sometimes take much longer. If someone has been using a large amount of OxyContin for a long time, it might be necessary to slowly taper off of the drug for a few weeks. Some people who go through medical detox may use opioid replacement therapy (such as methadone or Suboxone) for months. The important thing is that each individual takes the amount of time needed to successfully detox.
Medications Used in OxyContin Detox
There are a few medications used during medical detox that help to wean the body off of OxyContin. OxyContin detox medications interact with the opioid receptors that OxyContin would normally bind to. This interaction produces effects similar to OxyContin, which reduces the effects of withdrawal.
Suboxone for OxyContin withdrawal is well known, but there are also several other medications that can be used during detox. These include:
- Codeine phosphate
Finding a Detox Center
In order to detox from OxyContin safely, the best thing to do is find a professional detox center. These facilities have medical detox programs that keep individuals safe and help them detox in the most comfortable manner possible.
When searching for a detox center, the best place to start is to speak with your doctor or health care professional. These experts will have contact information for local centers they think might work well for an individual’s needs. You can also contact a professional rehab facility like Orlando Recovery Center to find information and begin a medical detox program.
If you or someone you love is struggling with OxyContin addiction, Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us today to learn about personalized treatment programs that can help you begin the path to a healthier, drug-free future.
We can help answer your questions and talk through any concerns.
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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.