5 Things to Expect During Your Oxycodone Withdrawal

Oxycodone, also known by its popular brand name OxyContin, is an opioid medication abused by more than 13 million Americans. Going through oxycodone withdrawal is a necessary first step toward overcoming oxycodone dependence, but comes with many risks when conducted on your own without medical supervision. Knowing what to expect during withdrawal from oxycodone can help you choose a detox program that works best for you, and that allows you to experience the safest, most successful recovery possible.

Here’s a closer look at the scope of oxycodone addiction in the U.S., along with five things to expect during oxycodone withdrawal.

You Aren’t Alone with Your Oxycodone Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from oxycodone addiction, understand there are millions of other Americans sharing similar struggles.

The U.S. consumes over 81% of the world’s entire oxycodone supply and is now facing a deadly opioid epidemic that caused more than 53,000 fatal overdoses in 2016.

The number of prescriptions for oxycodone and similar products increased from 76 million to 207 million between 1991 and 2013, while the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms caused by oxycodone abuse increased by 181% between 2005 and 2009. In 2017, the DEA reduced the amount of oxycodone being manufactured by 25% in an effort to minimize the number of prescriptions and curb the opioid epidemic.

Oxycodone addiction can be highly difficult to cope with and overcome on your own due to the severity and nature of oxycodone withdrawal symptoms. Even those who use oxycodone for legitimate medical reasons can unintentionally suffer withdrawal symptoms when using lower doses as directed by their doctors, or when stopping their medication abruptly without a tapering schedule.

Today, there are multiple detox treatments available that can relieve and eliminate any pain induced by oxycodone withdrawal symptoms, and that can make your recovery from oxycodone addiction significantly more tolerable and comfortable. These treatments are available at nearly every opiate or opioid drug detox center.

5 Things to Expect During Oxycodone Withdrawal

A detox from oxycodone can greatly reduce your risk for serious long-term health conditions linked to opioid dependence, along with relapse and death. Going through oxycodone withdrawal is the first stage of overcoming oxycodone addiction as a whole, and addresses the physical dependence side of opioid use disorder. After an oxycodone detox, you’ll no longer have to worry about managing withdrawal symptoms since your body will be free and rid of any toxins driving your physical urges to use the drug.

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Here are five things you need to know if you plan on going through withdrawal from oxycodone.

1. The Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline is Different for Everyone

On average, withdrawing from oxycodone at your body’s own natural pace takes between seven and 10 days. But in truth, there is no set timeline for oxycodone withdrawal since each person’s metabolism, health, and addiction status differs from the next.

Common factors that determine the length of oxycodone withdrawal are metabolism, tolerance level, dosage amount, the length of time you’ve been struggling with addiction, and any underlying medical conditions that may interfere with recovery. Generally, those who have been using large doses of oxycodone for long periods of time tend to experience longer withdrawal periods that last well beyond 10 days.

The oxycodone withdrawal timeline also varies based on the detox and withdrawal method you choose. For instance, a rapid detox from oxycodone can result in a two to four day withdrawal period, while medication-assisted treatment using methadone or buprenorphine can last up to one year. A medical detox usually lasts an average of seven to 10 days, but can be shorter or longer for some individuals based on their oxycodone usage patterns.

If the length of oxycodone withdrawal is an important determining factor for you when choosing a detox treatment, inform your doctors about this at the time of your addiction assessment. Your doctors will review your history with drug use and addiction, and help you choose an effective detox treatment that works best for you and your lifestyle.

2. The First 48 Hours of Oxycodone Withdrawal Are the Most Difficult

Withdrawing from oxycodone may be difficult, but symptoms are usually at their most severe for the first 48 hours after the last dose. Many who detox from oxycodone by themselves at home usually relapse and go back to drug use during this time period just to avoid withdrawal symptoms. But drug detox centers can help you get through this stage safely using treatments and therapies like yoga, meditation, and medications that relieve symptoms.

Detox can alleviate your oxycodone withdrawal symptoms; get the help you need today!

Former oxycodone users have compared oxycodone withdrawal to having the flu or food poisoning. Oxycodone is long-acting — meaning the drug’s effects usually last up to 12 hours when used as directed. But oxycodone also has an average half-life of 4.5 hours, which means people who abuse this opioid could start experiencing withdrawal symptoms in as quickly as four to eight hours.

The first full 24 hours of oxycodone withdrawal are often the most painful and uncomfortable and become slightly more tolerable on the second day. Common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms that occur during this time include muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shaking, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Psychological withdrawal symptoms usually start setting in on the second day and may include anxiety, depression, agitation, and irritability.

While there’s no doubt all these symptoms are awful and unappealing, the important thing to keep in mind is that oxycodone withdrawal is only temporary, and serves as your body’s way of cleansing and healing itself after a period of drug abuse. The pros of going through withdrawal far outweigh the cons when you consider the many other long-term health problems you’ll face with continued drug use.

3. Medications Can Help Relieve Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

oxycodone withdrawal symptoms

Detox can relieve oxycodone withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on recovery!

Some oxycodone users choose to withdraw from the drug naturally using a medically supervised detox, which is when nurses and doctors monitor your progress 24/7 and intervene at the necessary times to prevent complications. Some who choose a natural detox may do so for personal reasons, while others choose this detox method to avoid having any drugs in their system at all — including FDA-approved medications proven to help with oxycodone withdrawal. If your goal is to avoid suffering any oxycodone withdrawal symptoms at all, understand that medications are available to offer complete relief.

Oxycodone dependence can be treated using methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, or a combination of some of these drugs. This detox approach is known as medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, and is available at nearly half of privately-funded addiction treatment centers across the U.S. Studies have shown that using MAT to treat oxycodone dependence helps lower the risk for a drug overdose, and increases social functioning and retention rates in treatment settings.

Methadone and buprenorphine are highly similar to one another in that both these medications can reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing feelings of euphoria. Methadone is a full opioid agonist, while buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist — meaning buprenorphine activates opioid receptors less strongly than methadone and carries a lower risk for abuse. Methadone has been used to treat opioid addiction for over 40 years and is only dispensed to patients daily at inpatient and outpatient detox centers. Buprenorphine is shown to be just as effective at treating opioid addiction as methadone and can be prescribed by most physicians in an outpatient setting.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist and blocks the activation of opioid receptors to prevent people from experiencing any euphoria when using opioids like oxycodone. Naltrexone is often combined with methadone or buprenorphine to help motivate patients to stay clean and avoid relapsing.

Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about your options for medication-assisted treatment if you’re going through oxycodone withdrawal. MAT is becoming more widespread across the U.S. as treatment options are being expanded to resolve the opioid crisis.

4. Senses of Taste and Smell are Heightened During Withdrawal

As your body withdraws from oxycodone, you may find that your senses of taste and smell are far more sensitive than they were before. Certain foods may taste far differently than you remember, while certain odors can quickly nauseate you and cause vomiting. Since opioids dull your senses as a way to offer pain relief, these senses can suddenly come flooding back during withdrawal and cause a major physical upset.

Taste and smell disorders are also commonly caused by hormonal imbalances, which itself is strongly linked to opioid addiction. Data shows that those who use long-acting opioids like oxycodone can suffer from suppressed hormone production, with one study revealing that between 75% and 85% of men who use long-acting opioids will have reduced levels of testosterone. But long-term oxycodone users who go through withdrawal will quickly gain back their senses of taste and smell as their bodies’ hormones start to rebalance.

Data also shows that those who use oxycodone with acetaminophen are at higher risk for liver failure, and that liver dysfunction can cause loss of smell. In short, oxycodone abuse can trigger a cascade of health problems that lead to loss of taste and smell, but going through oxycodone withdrawal allows your body to detox and become healthier. Though your senses of taste and smell may seem heightened during oxycodone withdrawal, what’s really happening is that your senses are being restored to normal.

5. Withdrawal from Oxycodone Can Last for Months with PAWS

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, is a set of symptoms that can linger for weeks, months, or years after overcoming drug dependence. PAWS symptoms are usually more emotional and psychological in nature, and can often be treated using therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy that teach you how to cope and manage your symptoms. Common PAWS symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, depression, problems with memory and thinking, and drug cravings.

An estimated 90% of people recovering from opioid dependence will experience PAWS to some degree. Many detox centers prescribe naltrexone to those suffering from PAWS to reduce drug cravings and may recommend support group therapy sessions that revolve around ways to cope with PAWS. Exercising regularly, practicing good nutrition, and replacing drug use with healthier habits and activities can also help reduce PAWS symptoms and accelerate your recovery from oxycodone withdrawal.

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Are You Hesitant About Having an Oxycodone Detox?

Feeling hesitant about having an oxycodone detox is normal and expected, since going through withdrawal can be highly challenging. But withdrawing from oxycodone doesn’t have to be difficult, and can be made much easier and more comfortable with treatments that relieve your symptoms. When you look at the bigger picture, the short-term discomfort you’ll face when going through oxycodone withdrawal is minimal compared to the lifelong challenges you’ll face if you continue being addicted to oxycodone.

Oxycodone abuse has been shown to have adverse effects on all your major organs and systems, including your central nervous system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system. The higher doses of oxycodone you use, the higher your risk for sedation, intestinal blockages, fractures, and an overdose. You’ll also experience a higher sensitivity to pain since opioid misuse can negate the drug’s therapeutic effects.

Having an oxycodone detox allows you to benefit from improved overall health and mental clarity, and gives you the opportunity to discover new fun hobbies and interests to replace the time you spent obtaining and using oxycodone. If you’re not sure which oxycodone detox method would benefit you the most, talk to an addiction specialist who can answer all your questions and help you choose a detox treatment.

Do I Need Medical Supervision During My Oxycodone Detox?

If you’ve been using oxycodone for over one year, detoxing under medical supervision can help you stay safe and avoid life-threatening complications. Look for detox centers that offer a medical detox or medically supervised detox — both of which are overseen by nurses and doctors that offer 24/7 care. Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms like sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea can lead to complications like dehydration that slow down your recovery.

Detoxing from oxycodone at a medical detox center also allows you to work closely with doctors who gradually taper your dosage of methadone or buprenorphine until you’re no longer using these drugs to manage oxycodone withdrawal. By communicating your symptoms and the way you feel when using these medications, your doctors can ensure you experience the most comfortable withdrawal possible so you face a higher success rate in your recovery from addiction.

If you have more questions about oxycodone withdrawal or need help overcoming oxycodone addiction, call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to speak with an addiction counselor. We’ll discuss all your oxycodone detox options, and help you find the nearest drug detox center ready to help you fight opioid addiction.

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