Oxycodone is a short-acting, semi-synthetic opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is prescribed for both acute pain (after surgery or injury) and chronic pain (due to disease or damage). Oxycodone is the narcotic component of several common combination drugs, including Percocet and Percodan. Oxycodone is also the active ingredient in Oxycontin, an extended-release version of the drug.
Taking oxycodone for more than a few weeks will lead to tolerance and dependence, regardless of whether you use it as directed or not..Whether you used oxycodone for pain or abused it to get high, you can expect withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone withdrawal is different for everyone, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Your withdrawal experience will depend on a variety of factors, including your current dose and how long you’ve been using opioids.
Your withdrawal experience will also be affected by that path in which you use opioids.
People with an opioid use disorder (addiction) usually have a harder time detoxifying..Opioid addiction is different from opioid addiction because it involves heavy cravings and drug use that interfere with daily life..Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug, however, so it is not uncommon for a physical addiction to escalate into a full blown addiction.
In recent years, prescription drug abuse has become more common in all age groups and population groups. While only 591,000 people abused heroin in 2015, 2 million struggled with addiction to prescription opioids...
If you’ve never had an opioid withdrawal before, you are probably concerned about what to expect. Is it as bad as it looks on TV? It depends.
Without treatment, opioid withdrawal can be both uncomfortable and uncomfortable, but you can rest assured that it is rarely dangerous.
Your withdrawal experience will begin within 8 to 24 hours of your last dose.
You can expect stomach and muscle cramps, diarrhea, sweating, chills, and insomnia, among other things. Symptoms usually peak within a few days and then gradually subside. The entire process rarely takes more than a week...
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal can vary from person to person. Most people will experience flu-like symptoms, but symptom severity is on a continuum. If you want to get a better idea of the range of withdrawal symptoms you can look at the diagnostic scale clinicians use, the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)...
The most common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms are:..
- Muscle aches and pains
- flu-like feeling
- runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cramps or diarrhea
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- watery eyes
- Fear or anxiety
- goose bumps
- Racing heart
- Skin crawl
Symptoms generally appear within 8 to 24 hours of your last dose..If you have abused oxycodone by crushing it to bypass the extended-release mechanism, your withdrawal symptoms will occur more quickly. If you take your medication regularly as directed, your withdrawal symptoms may occur more slowly (especially if you are taking prolonged-release tablets).
Depending on your situation, your experience of withdrawal may also be marked by a return of pain. Prolonged opioid use temporarily lowers your pain threshold..This means your pain may feel worse than it did before you started using opioids. Pain can make withdrawal difficult. You should therefore work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan.
The acute (immediate) symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal typically appear on the third day and then begin to subside.
Acute symptoms rarely last longer than 5 to 7 days..However, there is another condition known as protracted (long-term) opioid withdrawal that can last up to six months.
Long-term withdrawal symptoms are much less severe, but they can be very frustrating and often lead to relapses. In the months after your last dose, the following symptoms may occur:..
- low energy levels
- a low load tolerance (short fuse)
- sleep disorders
- the inability to experience joy in anything
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Irritability or restlessness
These symptoms usually come and go in waves, adding to the frustration of recovery. The important thing is that they are only temporary.
Coping and Relief
Any doctor will tell you that the best way to get through oxycodone withdrawal is to use detox medication such as methadone and buprenorphine. Going through an opioid session without medical assistance causes unnecessary suffering. So you need to seek help.
There are several ways to do this. You may find help from:
- an addiction treatment center
- a community health clinic
- Your family doctor
- A psychiatrist
- a methadone clinic
- a doctor certified to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone)
There are several medications that can help prevent symptoms of withdrawal and manage symptoms that may occur. The first group are opioids like oxycodone, but when used properly they won’t get you high.
- Methadone. Methadone is a long-acting opioid that must be taken once a day to prevent withdrawal symptoms..When used correctly, it prevents withdrawal symptoms and food cravings without causing euphoria or sedation. Unfortunately, it’s only available in certified clinics that you have to attend daily.
- Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is also a long-acting opioid that can prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms..It’s most commonly found in Suboxone, a drug that combines buprenorphine with naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Many doctors are certified to prescribe Suboxone for people who want to use it at home.
- Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride). Lucemyra is a brand new non-opioid drug that is FDA approved for the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms..Since it does not contain opioids, any doctor can prescribe it for home use.
It may take time for your body to get used to a stable dose of methadone or buprenorphine. During this time, you may experience mild withdrawal symptoms. The American Society for Addiction Medicine recommends the following drugs for treating breakthrough withdrawal symptoms:..
- Clonidine: A high blood pressure drug that is regularly used off-label to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It is available as a pill or as a transdermal patch.
- Loperamide: Treat diarrhea.
- Ondansetron: Treat nausea and vomiting.
- Benzodiazepines: to treat short-term anxiety.
- OTC pain relievers: (Tylenol or Advil) used to treat muscle pain.
If you have trouble sleeping, you should (with doctor’s approval) consider an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl. If you’re allergic to antihistamines or prefer something else, you should talk to your doctor about prescription sleep aids.
Opioid withdrawal is rarely dangerous for healthy adults, but it can be extremely uncomfortable without detox medication.
While it is safe to detox at home, many people benefit from inpatient detox facilities where they can get medical care around the clock.
Inpatient detox is a great way to get through rehab in a safe, trigger-free environment, but can be prohibitively expensive. Once you have coverage, call and ask what type of addiction treatment they cover and how long that insurance will last.
Inpatient treatment is a great option for people struggling with an opioid use disorder..Detox is the first step in addiction management and an important one, but the key to long-term sobriety is long-term prevention of relapse. Detox facilities can help you move on to something more long-term. Without continued addiction treatment, people who go through detox usually fall behind within a year or two...
Since relapses are so common after a detox, it’s important to understand how quickly your tolerance level can change. Your pre-detox dose may result in an overdose after the detox. Talk to your doctor about a Narcan kit to have on hand in an emergency (Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose)...
Inpatient or special outpatient treatment is also a good option if you are pregnant. Oxycodone withdrawal can lead to pregnancy complications, including miscarriages and premature births..This means that it is especially important for you to avoid symptoms of withdrawal. Fortunately, methadone has been shown to be safe and effective during pregnancy.
Long term treatment
The main goal of long-term treatment is to prevent relapse in people with opioid use disorder.
Long-term addiction treatment takes a multi-faceted approach that includes medical, social, and therapeutic support. Your medical approach may include a long-term maintenance dose of methadone or suboxone, or you may want to stop using opioids altogether.
Naltrexone is a non-opioid drug that you can take to prevent relapse in the long term..It’s an opioid antagonist, which means it prevents opioids from getting you high. It is now available as a monthly injection or as a daily pill. Naltrexone is an excellent protection against impulsive relapses.
Research shows that adding psychotherapy to medication increases your chance of maintaining sobriety over the long term..Individual and group therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including addiction treatment programs, community clinics, hospitals, and private practices.
After all, social support is the third leg of relapse prevention. It is important to know that you are not alone. And a shared commitment to sobriety helps many people stay strong. Most people find long-term support at local 12-step meetings that are free and convenient.
Use this searchable directory to find a doctor near you who is certified to prescribe buprenorphine.
To find a doctor or therapist who specializes in opioid use disorders, you can use this searchable directory from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) or call the SAMHSA national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
To learn more about Narcotics Anonymous (NA), visit their website. You can find a meeting near you using the searchable directory.
A word from Verywell
Oxycodone withdrawal doesn’t have to be torture. With proper detox support, you should be able to get away with it with minimal discomfort. It can be difficult to plan your detox in advance. So get some help. When you’re in a good place, ask someone you trust to help you get and meet a doctor’s appointment.