Oxycodone Detox

All opioids—whether obtained by prescription or illegal means—are highly addictive, and oxycodone is no exception. Per studies conducted by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), some 75% of opioid users used oxycodone or hydrocodone, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 20% of all people prescribed painkillers throughout their lives admitted to misusing the substances at one point.

Oxycodone is prescribed by a doctor as a pill or liquid to be taken orally. People who misuse oxycodone may crush the pill to smoke, snort, or inject it intravenously. Brand names are:

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Oxycodone’s powerful effects as an analgesic are strong indicators as to why it is so addictive. The drug attaches itself to opioid receptors in the brain’s central nervous system and allows the user to feel less pain. The drug is almost exclusively intended for moderate to severe amounts of pain; oxycodone misuse is a direct consequence of its effectiveness.

Some risks of prolonged, reckless misuse of oxycodone include:

  • Potentially fatal results when mixed with other psychoactive drugs
  • Increasingly higher dosages needed to achieve a previous “high”
  • Chemical dependence on the drug
  • Reduced brain function (primarily through the central nervous system: reduced heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.)

Ultimately, if the drug is handled and taken at the rate mandated by prescription, one should not experience withdrawal symptoms when finished with the medication. When taken as prescribed, the drug has shown to be an effective option for treating severe pain. However, misuse and over-prescribing have led to an oxycodone epidemic that has affected many families and individuals.

Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal

To safely minimize the risks of oxycodone detox, individuals are encouraged to go to an inpatient medically supervised detox facility or seek medical help on an outpatient basis. Opioids, in particular, are a difficult drug to quit “cold turkey;” many severe and unforeseen conditions can arise from quitting the drug suddenly. Medical detox can also help reduce the risk of relapsing during the first few weeks of stopping, and it can also reduce the toll detoxing takes upon one’s body.

Symptoms can be psychological and physical, and uncomfortable. The higher the dosage and the longer period of use may increase the severity of symptoms. These can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Inability to cope
  • Increased heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Poor concentration
  • Runny nose
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Vomiting

Timeline for Oxycodone Detoxification

1. 0-48 hours: The onset of symptoms for oxycodone withdrawal is rapid—typically in the eight to 12-hour range. Earlier symptoms are generally marked by teary eyes, muscle cramps, anxiety, dilated pupils, and an increased breathing rate.

2. 3-5 days: The effects of detoxification peak in this period; symptoms include vomiting, trembling, and shaking, and some psychological behaviors.

3. 6-7 days: External symptoms begin to slow while psychological ones intensify. Typically, those who are detoxing will experience anxiety and depression, while some physical effects taper off.

4. 8+ days: This is the period where one is at the highest risk of relapsing. However, most physical consequences of detoxification have subsided at this point.

Some individuals can be affected by post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), magnifying the duration of the withdrawal symptoms for up to two years after detox. People may experience chronic cravings, anxiety, and depression for extended periods of time.

Learning to cope with these new feelings is best facilitated at a rehab facility, where individuals can choose to detox while simultaneously addressing the root of their problems with drug usage in the past.

Tapering off of Oxycodone

As previously mentioned, a physician or opioid withdrawal specialist’s advice is crucial in successfully stopping the use of an opioid like oxycodone. Gradually decreasing the dosage one is taking is an excellent way to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Some alternative drugs can also be prescribed to help. These can include:

  • Clonidine: primarily treats the psychoactive symptoms of detox. The drug helps treat irritability, anxiety, and cognitive difficulties while patients recover.
  • Suboxone: can relieve the symptoms of detox without achieving the same signature high of oxycodone. However, the substance is used sparingly, and dosages are tapered until it is stopped. It’s important to note that Suboxone can be abused in the same vein that oxycodone can.
  • Naltrexone: reduces the effect opiates have on the brain, thereby reducing potential future cravings for opioids. If the individual has oxycodone in their system, Naltrexone can amplify the symptoms of withdrawal.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an Oxycodone addiction, you are not alone. Dignity Healing’s Oxycodone detox specialists are here for you. Call  (844) 978-1524


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.