OxyContin Withdrawal

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What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin, generically known as oxycodone, is a Schedule 2 prescription drug. OxyContin is a semi-synthetic opioid drug derived from the poppy plant. OxyContin interacts with the brain by releasing excessive amounts of reward chemicals. These chemicals evoke a euphoric feeling commonly known as a "high". 

Doctors have found it to be a highly effective painkiller when prescribed for patients experiencing moderate or severe pain. OxyContin is known to create a euphoric effect in the body. The more OxyContin is used, the more tolerant the body becomes of it, and a higher dose is needed to feel its effect. This makes it highly addictive. Patients who were prescribed OxyContin may become addicted and continue to use it nonmedically. 

Avenues Recovery, experts in addiction rehabilitation, bring you a complete guide on OxyContin withdrawal. Read on to discover what OxyContin withdrawal is, how to detox from OxyContin, and how long it takes to detox from OxyContin.

OxyContin Use in America

One million Americans reported using OxyContin non-medically at least once in their life [1]. Popular amongst teenagers, the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey showed that 4% of high school seniors reported using it this past year. As the opioid epidemic continues to worsen, with the CDC reporting 75,673 overdose deaths from opioids in 2020 - 2021 [2], those dependent on OxyContin must seek help immediately.

What Is OxyContin Withdrawal?

As the brain grows more tolerant and dependent on OxyContin, it will produce fewer of these reward chemicals. When OxyContin use stops suddenly- withdrawal symptoms begin as the body readapts to normal functioning. It can take weeks, months, or even years for the body to rebalance itself and for all OxyContin withdrawal symptoms to disappear.

OxyContin Detox

The first step to recovering from an addiction is to detox the substance from the body, which is safest when done in a drug detox center. Detoxing is accomplished either by tapering off the drug slowly or by stopping cold turkey. Once someone stops taking OxyContin, withdrawal symptoms set in. The side effects of withdrawal vary from person to person. Symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal range from mild to severe, and manageable to not manageable. Detoxing can be a challenging process, but with the right support and planning, recovery from OxyContin dependence is possible.

OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin detox can be physical as well as psychological. They are flu-like and have similar withdrawal symptoms from heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine.

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Increased Tearing
  • Runny Nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Common psychological symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of Suicide

Factors that Affect OxyContin Withdrawal

Not everyone will have the same reaction to withdrawal. Opioids react differently with each person’s brain and body and the side effects of OxyContin addiction withdrawal will be different for each person as well. Many factors play a role in determining how withdrawal symptoms manifest and what OxyContin withdrawal feels like.

Some of these are:

  • Drug tolerance
  • Duration and frequency of use
  • Other substances used concurrently
  • Prior history of health issues
  • Drug ingestion method

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Can You Die From OxyContin Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from OxyContin is not usually life-threatening. However, it can be extremely difficult. Potential complications can also be dangerous or even fatal and require medical monitoring.

If other substances have been used as well there is a much higher risk of dangerous or even fatal complications. Furthermore, symptoms such as vomiting, and diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and mineral disturbances in the body and can lead to fatal consequences. Another serious risk when in withdrawal is aspiration from vomiting. Additionally, once a person stops using, relapse can become more dangerous. Because people’s tolerance level is lowered once they begin detoxing, overdoses can occur from smaller amounts.

Detoxing from OxyContin is safest under the care of a medical or addiction professional in a safe, monitored environment. A residential treatment center is usually the best recourse to safely detox from OxyContin and start learning how to live a life free from addiction.

OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline

OxyContin withdrawal symptoms usually peak within 24-72 hours after the last dose. However, symptoms can persist for weeks or months.

The OxyContin withdrawal timeline commonly follows the pattern below:

  • Week 1: It is common to experience the most acute symptoms this week. Insomnia, cravings, and shakes are usually worst during this time.
  • Week 2: During the second week, symptoms will begin to even out. Abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and nausea are common symptoms. People can begin to experience later-onset withdrawal symptoms.
  • Weeks 3-4: At this point, most people will feel physically better. However, psychological symptoms can still be present. They can persist for a while after stopping the drug. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, and dysphoria.

Tapering Off Oxycontin

It is possible for some to go through withdrawal at home safely. However, it is not recommended due to potential complications and challenges. An OxyContin rehab that will supervise symptoms is a better option for most. In a specialized detox facility, medical supervision and support can be provided by professionals as well as OxyContin withdrawal medication when necessary.

A slow taper often is the recommended way to detox from OxyContin. This can help prevent severe symptoms that would occur if OxyContin were stopped cold turkey. A medical professional can determine an appropriate tapering schedule on a case-by-case basis.

Medications for OxyContin Detox

If tapering is not suitable another option is a medical detox using other medications to substitute for OxyContin, with 24-hour supervision.

The following are commonly prescribed for OxyContin withdrawal medication.

  • Methadone: This medication will help relieve OxyContin withdrawal symptoms. It can also be used for the long-term maintenance of opioid dependence. After some time, the dose can be tapered down slowly, until completely stopped.
  • Buprenorphine: This medication can help shorten the length of detox. Like Methadone, it can be used for long-term treatment as well.
  • Psychiatric Medication:  These may be prescribed to treat withdrawal symptoms of depression or anxiety.
  • Clonidine: This medication helps with withdrawal symptoms such as cramping, anxiety, agitation, aches, sweating, and nose running.

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Treatment for OxyContin Addiction

Once the detox process has begun, it is helpful for those in recovery to begin counseling. Individual counseling, group counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can all be useful in the recovery process. Long-term treatment is often needed to overcome the addiction fully. This can be continued counseling and participation in a 12-step program. Treatment that addresses the underlying causes of addiction is the most effective. Often, the best results are found when counseling is combined with medical detox.

Once the medical detox is complete, many patients benefit from entering a substance abuse treatment program. There, patients are taught skills for coping with cravings and stress to live a drug-free life. Support is provided by therapists, professionals, and the recovering community. This can help those in recovery, gain the tools needed to return to their routine lives sober.

The road to recovery from OxyContin addiction is challenging. It is a lifelong battle for addicts. The OxyContin withdrawal process can make it difficult. However, with the right support along the way sobriety is possible. One can continue to live a rich and successful life. Reach out to Avenues Recovery, our trained admissions professionals are standing by, ready to help.


[1] www.justice.gov

[2] www.cdc.gov


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