Oxycontin Withdrawal

Shlomo Hoffman
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
August 3, 2022

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. Oxycontin Withdrawal
  2. Oxycontin Use in America
  3. Oxycontin Detox
  4. Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms
  5. Factors that Affect Withdrawal
  6. Is Oxy Withdrawal Dangerous?
  7. How long does Oxy withdrawal last?
  8. Tapering off Oxycontin
  9. Medications for Oxycontin Detox
  10. Treatment
  11. Sources

Oxycontin Withdrawal

OxyContin interacts with the brain by releasing excessive amounts of reward chemicals. These chemicals evoke a euphoric feeling commonly known as a “high”.

As the brain grows more tolerant and dependent on OxyContin, it will produce fewer of these reward chemicals. When OxyContin use stopped 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 withdrawal symptoms to disappear.

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Oxycontin Use in America

OxyContin, generically known as Oxycodone, is a Schedule 2 prescription drug. It is a semi-synthetic opioid drug derived from the poppy plant. 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.

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 2 showed that 4% of high school seniors reported use this past year. As the opioid epidemic continues to worsen, with the CDC reporting 75,673 overdose deaths from opioids in 2020 – 2021 3, those dependent on OxyContin must seek help immediately.

Learn more about OxyContin addiction

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Oxycontin Detox

The first step to recovering from an addiction is to detox the substance from the body. 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 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.

Learn more about drug and alcohol detox

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Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms

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

Common symptoms include:

Physical Symptoms:

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

Psychological Symptoms

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

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Factors that Affect 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 withdrawal will be different for each person as well. Many factors play a role in determining how withdrawal symptoms manifest.

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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Is Oxy Withdrawal Dangerous?

Withdrawal from OxyContin is not usually life-threatening. However, it can be extremely difficult. There are also potential complications that can 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. An inpatient drug rehab like Avenues Recovery is usually the best recourse to safely detox from Oxycontin and start learning how to live life free from addiction.

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How long does Oxy withdrawal last?

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

The timeline of withdrawal 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, 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.

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Tapering off Oxycontin

It is possible for some to safely go through withdrawal at home, however, it is not recommended due to potential complications and challenges. A facility that will supervise symptoms is a better option for most. In a specialized detox facility, medical supervision and support can be provided by professionals.

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

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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 medications are commonly prescribed.

  1. Methadone: This medication will help relieve 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.
  2. Buprenorphine: This medication can help shorten the length of detox. Like Methadone, it can be used for long-term treatment as well.
  3. Psychiatric Medication:  These may be prescribed to treat withdrawal symptoms of depression or anxiety.
  4. Clonidine: This medication helps with withdrawal symptoms such as cramping, anxiety, agitation, aches, sweating, and nose running.

Learn more about medication assisted treatment

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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 fully overcome the addiction. 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 addiction is challenging. It is a lifelong battle for addicts. 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 today, we are standing by and ready to help.

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[1] www.justice.gov

[2] www.src.isr.umich.edu

[3] www.cdc.gov

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