Oxycodone is a potent opioid drug available by prescription in the U.S. for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. When someone takes oxycodone, it acts on the central nervous system, which is a universal characteristic of opioids. This means oxycodone binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, altering how the person perceives pain.

Half Life of Oxycodone: How Long Does it Really Stay in Your System?
Oxycodone also creates a sense of euphoria or well-being, particularly at higher doses, and that emotional response is one of the reasons it’s a controlled substance. Oxycodone is frequently abused as people try to achieve a high from using it. Along with euphoria, as a central nervous system depressant, oxycodone can also lead to deep relaxation, sedation or a general feeling of numbness.

Before looking at the half-life of oxycodone, it’s important to know how it’s prescribed. Oxycodone comes as an extended-release tablet, capsule, regular tablet, liquid solution or concentrated solution. In most cases, doctors will initially prescribe a low dose of oxycodone and then, if the pain continues, they’ll gradually increase the dose in an effort to minimize some of the addictive qualities of the medicine.

When people take oxycodone for a period of time, they often develop tolerance and dependence, so if they were to stop using it suddenly, they would experience withdrawal. This can be minimized by doctors prescribing a plan for weaning off oxycodone gradually rather than stopping suddenly.

The half-life of oxycodone refers to the amount of time it takes half the drug to be eliminated from your body. The oxycodone half-life is important to understand because this is what determines how long the drug stays in a person’s system. This is relevant for a few different reasons. First, if you take another dose of oxycodone too soon after another, it can increase your chances of respiratory depression or overdose. Also, the half-life of oxycodone is important for drug testing purposes and for understanding when the therapeutic effects of the medicine will begin.

The oxycodone half-life is anywhere from 3.5 to 5.5 hours. This means that, on average, the medication will usually be eliminated from the body within 20 hours.

However, with opioids like oxycodone, there are often lingering metabolites that may be present and detectable in your system for longer.

The half-life of oxycodone and how long it takes to be fully eliminated from the body are based not only on features of the drug but also characteristics of the individual taking it. For example, the functionality of the kidneys and liver can play a role because oxycodone is metabolized there. Younger people tend to metabolize oxycodone more quickly. Body weight and fat content can make a difference as well.

Other individual features that can determine oxycodone half-life may include metabolic rate, the pH of urine and how often a person takes it. If you take oxycodone frequently, it may take longer for it to be eliminated because it builds up in your body.

As far as drug tests go, in a urine test, oxycodone may show up as “positive” right after or it may take as long as two hours after taking a dose for it to appear. Oxycodone can show up in a blood test within about 15 minutes, and will often no longer show up in a day. A saliva test can show oxycodone within 15 minutes of taking it.

To summarize, the half-life of oxycodone is 3.5 to 5.5 hours on average, and it takes around 20 hours for the average person to fully eliminate it, although this is dependent on many factors.

If you or a loved one live with addiction or are using drugs recreationally and want to stop, The Recovery Village® can help. Reach out to one of our representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: 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.