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What is OxyContin withdrawal?

Do you suspect that you are dependent on OxyContin (oxycodone)?

You may go through withdrawal when you try to stop OxyContin.  So how does OxyContin affect the brain?  Here, we review what happens in the brain and body when you withdraw from OxyContin and why. Plus, we describe how OxyContin withdrawal feels and what you can do at home to help ease symptoms. Finally, we invite any questions about withdrawing from OxyContin at the end.

What is OxyContin withdrawal syndrome?

If you’re wondering, “Can I just stop taking OxyContin?”, the answer is: only if you’ve taken it for less than a couple of weeks.  OxyContin is in a class of drugs known as opiate analgesics, or pain killers. The main ingredient in OxyContin is oxycodone. Oxycodone interacts with central nervous system receptors to produce analgesic properties. Specifically, OxyContin reduces the receptors’ responsiveness of the brain stem’s respiration centers which help slow message of pain. This is why oxycodone can also cause a reduction in mobility and digestion.

However, the more you use OxyContin over longer periods of time, the more likely it is that the brain can become dependent on oxycodone for normal functioning. That is, when you have developed a dependence to OxyContin, your body needs oxycodone in order to function normally. And when you develop dependence on oxycodone, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you cut back on amount or frequency of oxycodone doses. Why?

Withdrawal from OxyContin happens when you decrease or stop taking oxycodone as the body tries to regulate itself back into balance. Over time, the brain adapts to oxycodone and “unnaturally” slows down some of the processes in the body. When you stop taking OxyContin, a rebound effect occurs as the brain, which has been compensating for the slow down and has been kicked into high gear, does not immediately process the absence of oxycodone. It will take time for the brain to readapt to a chemical environment without OxyContin in the system. This period is called “withdrawal”.

What is withdrawal from OxyContin like?

Withdrawing from OxyContin is like getting a very nasty cold and flu. While your body responses were slowed while on OxyContin, now everything seems like it’s in overdrive. In fact, your body is trying to re-regulate its functions. This is the reason many suffer from diarrhea and vomiting during OxyContin withdrawal. Other persistent OxyContin withdrawal symptoms that can occur include; anxiety, depression, and/or insomnia. If you have been abusing OxyContin to get high or find yourself addicted to OxyContin, you may notice a psychological need for OxyContin present during withdrawal.

What does OxyContin withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawal from OxyContin can feel painful, but rarely is fatal. You generally feel sick, as if you have the flu. Onset of withdrawal symptoms show up 6-8 hours after your last does has worn off. More acute symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal can last up to a week and can be very intense but should begin to even out around week two. Depression and anxiety can make weaning off the drug really hard.

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What helps OxyContin withdrawal?

Three possible treatments for OxyContin withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies. Keep in mind that doctors ALWAYS recommend a medically supervised withdrawal to prevent complications and provide a positive outcome. It is really important that you speak with a doctor before discontinuing OxyContin. After a person has taken opioids like OxyContin for an extended period, the dosage is gradually reduced before it is stopped completely. Stopping OxyContin cold turkey can be dangerous and violent. This is why it is important that you are monitored by a physician during the withdrawal process. Doctor who taper and monitor the process can help reduce the overall effects of withdrawal symptoms.

1. Home remedies for OxyContin withdrawal

Home remedies can help assist you with the actual withdrawal symptoms as you stop taking OxyContin. Over-the-counter medications can also be helpful in treating flu-like symptoms and typical aches and pains. Heating pads, warming massage oils and hot baths can help aid muscles pain. It is also important that you get lots of fluids and electrolytes while withdrawing from Oxycontin because you are losing a lot of nutrients during the detox process. Peppermint and ginger teas can help with nausea. If you are craving OxyContin, talking to friend or seeking emotional support through a group or drug addiction program can also be of benefit.

2. Medications during OxyContin detox

There are many different medications that doctors may prescribe for OxyContin withdrawal symptoms. Seek medical advice for a full range of pharmaceuticals. The more common ones include Clonidine (which reduces anxiety, agitation, vomiting/diarrhea) and Buprenorphine (which may shorten the length of detox). There are also anti-diarrhea medications out there. If you would like a more extensive list of prescription drugs to treat opioid withdrawal symptom, please refer to our article about opiate addiction treatment medications.

3. Tapering off OxyContin

It is important to avoid large decreases in OxyContin doses in order to lessen the intensity of OxyContin withdrawal symptoms Therefore, the most advisable manner to detox from OxyContin is to taper dosage over time. This process reduces overall intensity of withdrawal as you decrease oxycodone in your system over a period of days and weeks. Tapering allows for the brain to slowly re-adapt to its normal functions before the presence of OxyContin in the body system. Tapering from OxyContin also helps you to monitor the process and to observe withdrawal symptoms that manifest.

There is a general method of tapering for opioid based medications like OxyContin that doctors feel is safe and effective. In general, OxyContin should be tapered 10% weekly or slower depending on your development of tolerance. Then reduce the dose by 20% every 3-5 days. Then again 25% every week. Taper until there are minuscule traces of OxyContin in the body. .

Questions about OxyContin withdrawal

Please, if we have missed anything or if you still have questions about withdrawing from OxyContin, ask them in the space below. We will do our best to respond accordingly.

Reference Sources: Daily Med: OxyContin
U.S. Veteran’s Association: Criteria for Use of Controlled-release Oxycodone

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan

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8 Responses to “What is OxyContin withdrawal?
Dawne
1:53 am January 28th, 2014

My daughter was/is snorting oxycodone regularly for the past year or so. We brought her home and she has been detoxing for 2 weeks. The worst seems to be over. But the psychological part seems harder. Ican’t seem to motivate her to even get out of bed. She eats and sleeps, thats it. he wants me to buy Suboxone/Subutex for her. Is this a good idea, so fa into her detox? Seems conter productive.

Dawne
1:57 am January 28th, 2014

is it possible for a 110lb person to test positive for oxycodone, 10 days after the last usage?

11:09 am January 31st, 2014

Hello Dawne. I’d suggest that you get your daughter into an outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment program ASAP. Psychological cravings are the characteristic sign of addiction and can be treated with psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Also, a treatment center can assess her case and recommend or prescribe Suboxone or methadone, as required. But, in general, your daughter can benefit from professional guidance and evidence based treatment for addiction! P.S. Oxycodone is usually present in urine 2-4 days after last use.

Chris
11:34 pm August 26th, 2015

After stopping Oxy. I have had no energy and feel sleepy all the time. I am exhausted ll the time .I’ve been off for about a month. Any ideas? I am also HIV + TAKING MEDS AND IN GOOD SHAPE THERE.

11:14 am August 27th, 2015

Hello Chris. How long were you taking OxyContin for? The duration of the treatment affects the duration of recovery. I believe your brain and body are slowly healing, but it will take time for these symptoms to subside. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if they can suggest any natural ways you can get more energy flow during the day.

Meredith
8:53 pm February 3rd, 2016

I was given oxycodone around 2-3 yrs ago by PCP because of severe bone and muscle tissue pain from cancer and a stem cell transplant. I HATE it, but PCP doesn’t seem to know how to help me get off. I started 10mg every 4 hrs. Now I take 20mg every 8 hrs. PCP and his pharmacologist hv continues to say it’s such a small dose. Never been addicted to anything but cover rest before and had no problem quitting those early 20’s. I don’t know where to go or what to do. Is that a lot of oxycodone? My pain seems maybe manageable without pain meds if I didn’t hv side effects. I want to quit but I dont want to do it unsafe without Dr overseeing it. Who shd I see?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:46 pm February 10th, 2016

Hi, Meredith. If you believe that your pain seems manageable, then you may wean off pain medication, and see how it goes. I suggest you speak with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

Darlene
12:58 am March 18th, 2016

Was on Oxy/s after breast cancer & severe pain….been on them for 8+ yrs. My decision to stop with medical supervision, been hell !!! Been clean since Feb 29 of this year. My question: still so weak cant get out of my own way, don’t care about anything, excessive diarrhea still ! When can I expect to start to feel a “little human” again. I was on 40mg BID with 15mg QID for breakthrough pain. I’ve tapered off for several weeks as I said. I am getting so discouraged….Feel like I’ve been robbed again, just like the cancer did… Just want to feel human again….any idea’s? I know everyone is different yet…I’m sure you must have SOME idea of wellness for me? Any answers will be good. Haven’t found any time spans as of yet, TY

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