Oxycodone Detox

Oxycodone detox can be difficult to endure due to the pain of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from Opioids like OxyContin and Percocet is potentially deadly.

What Is Oxycodone Detox?

Oxycodone is one of the most commonly prescribed prescription Opioids, as well as one of the strongest and longest-acting (when taken as prescribed). Due to the potency of name brand Oxycodone pain relievers like Percocet® and OxyContin®, an individual can develop a physical dependency in a relatively short period of time – as few as 5 days of regular use. Subsequently, Oxycodone detox may involve a range of withdrawal symptoms and cravings lasting up to 6 months.

Oxycodone Facts

  • Oxycodone is 1.5 times more potent than Morphine.
  • Oxycodone is intended for moderate-to-severe pain that requires around-the-clock treatment.
  • Oxycodone is not prescribed on an “as needed” basis or for pain that lasts only a short time (such as after surgery).
  • Oxycodone is prescribed in extended-release forms, though some crush and snort to bypass time-release effects.

The Process of Oxycodone Detox

Oxycodone detox starts after the last dose was taken. Normally, the brain produces its own Opioid chemicals (known as endorphins and enkephalins) to alleviate pain signals. However, these chemicals are not strong enough to ease the pain of a broken bone or put the body into overdose. Protracted use of Oxycodone interrupts the natural flow of these pain-relieving chemicals.

When a person stops taking Oxycodone, norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) is no longer suppressed and flows back into the brain’s pathways. Norepinephrine causes many of the symptoms associated with withdrawal, such as high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and sweating.

The pain of withdrawal is often enough to prevent many from seeking recovery through detox.

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Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal

Individuals that have developed a dependency to Oxycodone and those with an addiction will experience symptoms of withdrawal as early as a few hours after their last dose. Typical symptoms of Oxycodone withdrawal include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold flashes and goosebumps
  • Sweating
  • Uncontrolled leg movement
  • Severe cramping

For decades, medical professionals believed Opioid withdrawal was not deadly because detoxing individuals suffered symptoms very similar to the flu. However, multiple studies on unsupervised detox (predominantly in prison) have demonstrated the potentially fatal consequences of unsupervised detox.

The lethality of Oxycodone detox is due primarily to two seemingly minor symptoms: vomiting and diarrhea. Both vomiting and diarrhea dehydrate the body, putting additional strain on already weak biological systems. If left untreated, persistent vomiting and diarrhea could raise sodium levels in the blood and lead to heart failure or seizures. Medical supervision throughout detox is strongly recommended for anyone reducing dosage, and especially for those stopping use altogether.

Stages of Oxycodone Withdrawal

Oxycodone Detox Is A Difficult Process, But The End Results Are Worth ItOxycodone withdrawal is categorized as mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe. Oxycodone is commonly prescribed in controlled-release and extended-release tablets (such as OxyContin® and Opana®). These forms of Oxycodone are considered long-acting, meaning withdrawal symptoms may not kick in until 1 to 2 days following the last dose.

Oxycodone tablets like Percocet®, or crushed OxyContin®, are considered short-acting and have withdrawal periods more similar to Morphine or Heroin. The onset of withdrawal symptoms for these types of Oxycodone start within a few hours of the last time it was taken and progress depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction.

Oxycodone withdrawal may be avoided if an individual tapers off prescription doses. Always discuss changes to your prescription regimen with your primary care provider before making any changes.

Withdrawal from short-acting Opioids starts earlier and peaks sooner than long-acting forms, meaning the body will be substance-free sooner.

Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline

6 hours – 2 days

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Tearing up eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent yawning

Next 2 – 5 days (peak symptoms)

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurred vision

5 or more days

  • Digestive issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures (in severe addictions)

Remember, addiction affects everyone differently and symptoms vary from person to person. Co-occurring health disorders (like diabetes or depression) could cause an individual to experience significantly different symptoms. Medical supervision is necessary for anyone detoxing from multiple substance use disorders or if he or she has peripheral health problems.

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Oxycodone Detox Medications

To reduce symptoms of Oxycodone detox and improve an individual’s chance of a successful recovery, the FDA has approved select medications for the treatment of an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Addiction treatment medications generally fall into one of two categories: non-Opioid-based treatment medications and Opioid-based treatment medications.

Federal and state authorities have been slow to approve Opioid-based medications; many view it as trading one Opioid for another. However, numerous studies have debunked this theory. When included in a broader addiction treatment therapy program, medications like Methadone have successfully reduced daily Opioid use, Cocaine use, and crime.

Clonidine

  • Also known as: Kapvay®, Catapres®
  • Opioid-like Effects? No
  • Opioid Interaction: Reduces Opioid withdrawal symptoms but may increase effects of sedatives.
  • Withdrawal Management: Reduces withdrawal symptoms from sympathetic nervous system (sweating, anxiety, watery eyes). Can reduce detox time.
  • Abuse Potential: Low

Lofexidine

  • Also known as: Lucemyra®
  • Opioid-like Effects? No
  • Opioid Interaction: Reduces Opioid withdrawal symptoms but may increase effects of sedatives.
  • Withdrawal Management: Analog of Clonidine with less effect on blood pressure. Neither Clonidine nor Lofexidine reduce psychological cravings.
  • Abuse Potential: Low

Buprenorphine

  • Also known as: Subutex®
  • Opioid-like Effects? Yes
  • Opioid Interaction: Displaces high from other Opioids and has low “ceiling” on its euphoric effects.
  • Withdrawal Management: Recommended for quick withdrawal and transition to other treatments (like Naltrexone). Reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Abuse Potential: Some

Suboxone®

  • Also known as: Buprenorphine hydrochloride
  • Opioid-like Effects? Yes
  • Opioid Interaction: Contains Naloxone (only effective when injected). If taken orally, same effects as Subutex®.
  • Withdrawal Management: Reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Injection causes precipitated withdrawal (due to Naloxone) if taking any Opioids.
  • Abuse Potential: Some for oral tablets 

Methadone

  • Also known as: Methadose®, Dolophine®
  • Opioid-like Effects? Yes
  • Opioid Interaction: Acts on the same brain receptors as other Opioids, without the high.
  • Withdrawal Management: Reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Used to wean patients from Opioids. Highly regulated and patients must visit special clinic to obtain it.
  • Abuse Potential: Significant if unmonitored

Naltrexone

  • Also known as: ReVia®, Vivitrol®
  • Opioid-like Effects? No
  • Opioid Interaction: Fully blocks high caused by Opioids and depressants.
  • Withdrawal Management: Blocks effects of Opioids. Craving reduction over time. Reduces tolerance. Commonly used at the end of detox to maintain sobriety.
  • Abuse Potential: Very low

For more information on addiction treatment and detox medications, see Medical Treatment.

Get Help with Oxycodone Detox

If you believe you have an Oxycodone addiction, detox is the first step. It’s important for people suffering from an OUD to seek medical attention when preparing to detox. The aid of professionals can reduce the pain of withdrawal associated with Oxycodone and increase your chances of a successful recovery. For more information about your detox and rehab options, reach out to a dedicated treatment professional today.

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