How long does Oxycontin withdrawal last?
ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Withdrawal severity tends to peak 72 hours after last dose and then gradually becomes easier 7-10 days later. Most Oxy withdrawal symptoms resolve anywhere between 3-8 weeks after cessation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Who Goes Through Withdrawal
- Common Symptoms
- Medical Detox
- Home Detox
- I Need More Help
- Planning To Detox From OxyContin?
Who Goes Through Withdrawal?
Anyone who is drug dependent on OxyContin will go through detox and withdrawal when they lower doses or quit. But withdrawal is just one part of the problem. Once you stop…can you stay stopped?
Oxycodone is the main ingredient found in OxyContin and is a prescription pain medication, an opioid drug, like morphine, codeine and methadone. OxyContin was developed in 1995 to provide long-lasting pain relief, so people with severe pain would not have to take pills as often. Then, in the mid 90’s, OxyContin was widely prescribed. According to an article published in American Journal of Public Health, OxyContin has become a leading drug of abuse in US by 2004.
If you take oxycodone every day, your body will get used to the drug. In these cases, it can help to have periods of dose limitation or even abstinence. But, if you lower or even eliminate doses…and then start back again, you may be addicted to OxyContin.
You may be hooked on Oxy if you:
- Have withdrawal symptoms if you try to lower doses.
- Keep using oxycodone despite the problems it causes in your life.
- Need to take more and more oxycodone to get the same effect.
- Spend so much time getting Oxy you do not take care of important things in your life.
If these things happen, you will probably need help getting off oxycodone.
How Long Until OxyContin Withdrawal Starts?
After your last dose of OxyContin, you can expect withdrawal symptoms to start about 6-8 hours later or after the effect of oxycodone has worn off. Keep in mind that the longer you have been physically dependent on OxyContin, or the higher the Oxycodone dosage you have been taking, the longer and the harder the period of withdrawal.
OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline
Most OxyContin withdrawal symptoms resolve anywhere between 3-8 weeks after cessation of OxyContin. Acute OxyContin withdrawal usually resolves in the first week after you stop taking. However, some symptoms persist well after this period. Below is a timeline that will give you a better idea of what to anticipate as you are withdrawing from OxyContin.
1. 24 – 72 hours: During this period, the onset of symptoms emerge and peak. The most commonly reported symptoms occur during this time include flu like symptoms, abdominal cramps, and agitation. The first several hours of withdrawal can be the most intense and the most uncomfortable, but do not last much longer than about three (3) days.
2. Week 1: Acute withdrawal symptoms continue to peak and can last into the first week after you stop taking OxyContin. Insomnia, drug cravings, and the shakes are at their worst during this time of withdrawal.
3. Week 2: It is during week two that symptoms start evening out and your body will regain a level of normalcy. Later onset withdrawal symptoms can manifest during this time. These symptoms include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting. Sleep patterns should also start returning to normal.
4. Weeks 3-4: A few weeks into OxyContin detox, the physical body should be feeling better. However, psychological symptoms may persist and long after you physical dependence has disappeared. These can included anxiety, depression, and dysphoria – an intense dissatisfaction with life.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with OxyContin include:
- Accelerated breathing.
- Cold flashes.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Involuntary leg movements.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle and bone pain.
- Runny nose.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Watering eyes.
How Long Do OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin detox usually even out in about 4-5 weeks. If you are not experiencing a “typical OxyContin withdrawal”, do not worry. Every body’s system is different and will experience withdrawal in its own way. Some may experience a shorter or longer time during OxyContin detox. For the most part, however, those who have been taking high doses of OxyContin or have been abusing the medication for a long time will exhibit harsher symptoms, which will take longer to resolve.
One last thing: If you are going through withdrawal, you may experience a process called PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal continue to manifest long past the period of time when withdrawal symptoms should have been resolved. In particular, OxyContin use exhibits opiate specific protracted withdrawal symptoms. Opiate specific symptoms of PAWS can include:
- Short-term memory loss
If you are experience any of these symptoms of PAWS, it is advisable to seek medical help.
Tapering is a medical option during which doctors supervise gradual dose reduction. Generally, experts recommend that you taper down from OxyContin slowly. However, each medical case of tapering is individual. For this reason, you need to consult with your prescribing doctor before attempting a taper.
Rates may vary from 10% of the total daily dose EVERY DAY to 10% of total daily dose EVERY 1-2 WEEKS. You generally choose which dose is decreased (AM, PM or in between) Taper even more slowly when 1/3 of total dose is reached.
Other considerations follow.
People should consider tapering down doses of OxyContin in the following instances:
1. You are not getting adequate pain relief. People with severe pain and disability despite a high dose (above 200 mg morphine equivalent per day) often experience improved pain, function and mood with tapering.
2. You experience side effects or medical complications as a result of taking OxyContin. Adverse effects primarily include sedation, constipation, and falls in the elderly, sleep apnea, and overdose. Most of these side effects are dose-related.
3. You think you may be addicted to OxyContin. In other words, you may be able to stop taking it…but you can’t stay stopped. People who are addicted still need pain meds from their physician may receive ‘structured opioid therapy,’ with tapering, frequent dispensing (as often as daily), and urine drug screening.
Also, check out this CDC pocket guide to find more useful tapering tips.
If the tapering protocol fails or if you’re battling addiction, other treatments may be needed. In these cases, a medical detox can really help you. During medical detox, staff monitor your symptoms 24-7. They offer you symptomatic support, as well as psychological support. Supervising physicians can also offer medications such as methadone and buprenorphine to help ease withdrawal symptoms.
1. Methadone relieves withdrawal symptoms and helps with detox. It is also used as a long-term maintenance medicine for opioid dependence. After a period of maintenance, the dose may be decreased slowly over a long time. This helps reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Some people stay on methadone for years.
2. Buprenorphine (the main ingredient found in Subutex and Suboxone) treats withdrawal from opiates, and it can shorten the length of detox. It may also be used for long-term maintenance, like methadone. Buprenorphine may be combined with Naloxone (Bunavail, Suboxone, and Zubsolv), which helps prevent dependence and misuse.
One way to protect your privacy when in need of detox services is to undergo the detox process at home. Discretion is a significant advantage to receiving detox assistance in your own home environment versus a clinical setting. Being home while experiencing the physical and emotional discomforts of detox can be much less stressful than doing so in a medical facility. It is comforting to have the support of a private detox nurse as well as a family member, or even a pet, nearby to offer their encouragement during the process
However, detoxing at home does come with risks. You may relapse into drug use again to prevent withdrawal. Or, you may experience extreme discomfort. If you experience severe withdrawal symptoms, it is best to get medical help and go to a specialized detoxification facility.
If you take oxycodone products that are not prescribed to you, what can you do to be safer? Taking oxycodone without a prescription, or not as prescribed, is always risky. However, if you are going to take it, you can reduce the risk of overdose if you:
- Do not crush or chew Oxy before swallowing it.
- Do not crush and snort the medicine.
- Do not dissolve oxycodone in water and inject it.
- Do not take OxyContin if you are not used to taking opioids.
- Do not take oxycodone with other sedating drugs or when drinking.
- Do not take Oxy by yourself, with no one to help you if you overdose.
- Do not take oxycodone soon after you have gone through withdrawal from opioids.
If you take oxycodone, you can be safer if you avoid taking it in these ways, but taking oxycodone that is not prescribed to you, or taking it not as prescribed, is still very dangerous. If you feel down or depressed after using, and think you might harm yourself, get help immediately.
Individuals who take a large dose of OxyContin are at risk of severe respiratory depression that can lead to death. Inexperienced and new users are at particular risk, because they may be unaware of what constitutes a large dose and have not developed a tolerance for the drug. In addition, OxyContin abusers who inject the drug expose themselves to additional risks, including contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), hepatitis B and C, and other bloodborne viruses.
I Need More Help
If you have tried to stop, but can’t, you are not alone! But what can you do?
The first step is to see a doctor. Depending on your age, health and history, your doctor may refer you to a detox clinic. In other cases, outpatient withdrawal may be appropriate. Group support, counselling or a stay at a drug treatment center can also help you to stop using oxycodone. Either way, you need a full assessment and plan.
Other medical professionals who can help you get off OxyContin include:
- A psychiatrist
- Addictions counselors
- Addiction rehabs
- General physicians
- Licensed clinical social workers
- Medical doctors who specialize in addiction
- Your family doctor
What should you do if you cannot stop taking oxycodone? There is help! You are not alone. Please reach out with your questions.
If you have any more questions regarding withdrawal from OxyContin, please ask. We do our best to respond to your questions personally and promptly.
Reference Sources: CPSO: Opioid Tapering Protocols
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Oxycodone
NIH: Reduction of opioid withdrawal and potentiation of acute opioid analgesia by systemic AV411
Daily Med: OxyContin
Photo credit: Emborg