Oxycodone Withdrawal and Detox

One sign of oxycodone dependence is experiencing withdrawal when the abuser stops using the drug. Withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occur during detox, while the body removed oxycodone from the system. Withdrawal is often uncomfortable, or even painful, but is a necessary step in getting clean from oxycodone abuse and addiction. Withdrawal can also be dangerous, so it’s important to detox in a medically-supervised facility such as The Recovery Village. There, a doctor and medical team can administer withdrawal medications to make you as comfortable as possible while monitoring your vitals and ensuring your safety.
Drug addiction involves a chemical change in the brain, during which time the brain grows accustomed to having oxycodone in it and considers the drug a normal occurrence in the brain. The brain does not recognize this is not true, however, and will have a volatile reaction when oxycodone is no longer present.

This reaction manifests in many physical and mental symptoms, called withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is an uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience, and can be the reason why those who wish to stop using oxycodone are not successful.

The physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Crying
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Goosebumps
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Tearing
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning

The psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Confusion
  • Cravings
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts
Detoxification is the first step in oxycodone addiction treatment. During detox, the body will work naturally to expel oxycodone from your system, removing all traces of the drug from your bloodstream and organs. It takes roughly one week for the body to complete this process, depending on how long you’ve been addicted to oxycodone and what dosage you were taking.

Detox can occur in multiple settings:

  • At a hospital
  • In a medical clinic
  • In prison
  • At a detox center
  • At a rehab facility

Most seasoned addiction professionals will recommend anyone undergoing detox do so at some type of medical facility. Although not usually risky, detox can be dangerous in the right circumstances and is best if closely monitored. The medical team at The Recovery Village is experienced in guiding patients through detoxification and will use regular drug tests during this time to monitor the progress of your detox.

As detox progresses, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Our doctors will monitor your symptoms closely and administer medications as needed to reduce some of these symptoms. It’s also important to drinks lots of water during detox, as the body often becomes dehydrated during this process. Runny nose, vomiting, sweating and diarrhea are very typical symptoms of withdrawal, regardless of what substance the person was abusing, because these are ways to get the toxins of oxycodone out of the body. In the process of losing these fluids, however, a person can easily become dehydrated, which, if left untreated, can lead to seizure, coma and death.

As a result, our doctors will likely treat you for dehydration, as well as administer withdrawal medications to ease your symptoms. Medical supervision is also beneficial during this time to help the patient avoid relapse, or returning to oxycodone use after a period of sobriety. Newly-detoxed patients are at particular risk for relapse because they often feel empowered and positive following detox and do not realize the extent of their vulnerability. During this period of new sobriety, patients will still be unsure of their drug abuse triggers, and will not have learned new coping skills to help them curb the urge to use.

All of these skills are learned during addiction rehabilitation, which the patient will be ready for following detox. There are several kinds of rehab programs, including inpatient and outpatient treatment. Both involve similar aspects, such as:

  • Evaluation
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Alternative therapies
  • Medication management
  • Dietary counseling
  • Aftercare planning
oxycodone withdrawal
Because detoxification is a natural, bodily process, it is possible to detox at home. Typically, rehab skeptics or those who are struggling financial are the most likely to choose a home detox. This experience poses several risks, however, including the risk of relapse, dehydration or other potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone typically stays in the system for a range of time, from five hours under drugs like Percocet or Percodan, to eight – 12 hours for drugs like OxyContin. As a result, it takes about 12 hours after an addict’s last hit of oxycodone for withdrawal symptoms to start setting in.

While detox often takes a few days, or up to a week, it’s hard to tell how long withdrawal symptoms will last. Most people experience withdrawal differently. This can be because of a variety of factors, including their age, gender, weight, how long they’ve used oxycodone, which prescriptions they abuse, the dosage they normally take, and how frequently they get high on the drug.

It’s not uncommon for oxycodone withdrawal patients to experience withdrawal symptoms for one – two weeks after their last dose, especially if some of their symptoms are moderate or severe. Psychological symptoms normally linger past when physical symptoms fade, sometimes up to one or two months.

The first two days of oxycodone withdrawal are often the most painful. Most patients experience the peak of withdrawal symptoms at about 72 hours into sobriety. Typical symptoms a person may experience during this time include:

  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

On about the third day, most of these physical symptoms begin to wane. If any persist, they will typically include insomnia, loss of appetite and muscle aches. Between day three and day five, psychological symptoms begin to crop up, including anxiety and depression.

The worst of these symptoms should resolve around the sixth or seventh day of detox. For many, withdrawal ends here. For others, the psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal continue for days, weeks, or even months. Cravings for OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan or another oxycodone medication of choice may also persist during this time.

Following detox, the patient is ready to transition into oxycodone addiction treatment. The treatment process can take months or years, again depending on the particular person, their substance abuse history and other factors. The minimum length of treatment at The Recovery Village is 28 days, but research shows the longer a patient stays in rehab, the less likely they are to relapse.  

There are two ways to withdraw from oxycodone — via tapering, when an addict reduces their dose over time, or via cold turkey, when an addict stops taking the drug suddenly and all at once. Quitting cold turkey can seem like an attractive option for people who are frustrated with their addiction and want it to stop sooner, or who believe it will be easier to experience withdrawal all at once, similar to ripping off a bandaid. It’s true that quitting cold turkey will expedite the detox process, but it also often increases the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Coupled with intense cravings for oxycodone, the cold turkey withdrawal experience can be unbearable. As a result, many relapse.

To avoid relapse and experience a less severe set of withdrawal symptoms, it’s best to detox under the watchful eye of a doctor.

Although rare, it is possible to die from oxycodone withdrawal. In most cases, this occurs when a person has somewhat detoxed from the drug and relapses using a previous dosage. At that point, however, the body has adjusted to life without the drug and cannot handle such a high dose. As a result, potentially fatal overdose can occur. Detox can also cause severe dehydration that, if left untreated, can cause seizure, coma and death.

To experience the safest, healthiest detox possible, it’s best to go to a medical detox center or rehab facility so a doctor can monitor your vitals and help prevent the temptation of relapse.

Another benefit of undergoing detox at a detox center or rehab facility is access to a doctor and their ability to administer pharmaceuticals. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful and push a patient back towards relapse. Monitoring such symptoms with medications, however, can help make a patient more comfortable and make detox a more pleasant experience.

There are several different medications a doctor can administer to aid with withdrawal, from prescription withdrawal medications to over-the-counter drugs. Some possible drugs a doctor may use during your detox are:

  • Clonidine, which is used to reduce anxiety, cramping, muscle aches, sweating, agitation and runny nose. The drug does not reduce cravings for oxycodone.
  • Suboxone, which treats opiate withdrawal. The drug combines Naloxone and buprenorphine to satisfy the brain’s craving for opioids while preventing further cravings and misuse of the drug. Other, similar medications include Bunavail, Subutex and Zubsolv.
  • Naltrexone, which blocks the effects of opioids. Naltrexone does not treat opioid cravings.
MedlinePlus. “Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 20 Apr. 2016, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
Mental Health Daily. “Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms + Duration.” Mental Health Daily, mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/07/30/oxycodone-withdrawal-symptoms-duration/. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.
Oxycodone Withdrawal & Detox
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Oxycodone Withdrawal & Detox was last modified: July 8th, 2017 by The Recovery Village