How to Stop Taking OxyContin

Stopping OxyContin suddenly isn’t a good option for most people. Instead, you should slowly taper your dose under medical supervision over the course of weeks. Learn more about how to stop taking OxyContin here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

SUMMARY: The safest way to quit OxyContin is under medical supervision by slowly and gradually reducing daily dose. OxyContin withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, but symptoms can be uncomfortable, intense, and severe. More here on tapering protocols with a list of the benefits of medical detox.



Predictable Effects

The main psychoactive ingredient found in OxyContin is oxycodone. Oxycodone is a powerful, man-made narcotic drug that changes the way the brain perceives pain. It also slows down some body functions, like breathing and heart rate. So, when you use OxyContin for weeks at a time, oxycodone can causes changes in your brain.

First, your brain becomes dependent on OxyContin for normal body function. Second, doses may become less therapeutically effective over time. This is called increased tolerance.

This National Safety Council report on opioids states that OxyContin dependence can develop in as little as 5-7 days of daily dosing.

What Withdrawal Is…

Withdrawal is a set of predictable symptoms that occur when you quit OxyContin and are drug-dependent.Dependence is a physical state during which your body adjusts to having oxycodone in your system after taking OxyContin for extended periods of time. Once you stop taking OxyContin or reduce the daily dose, you go into withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms are actually the manifestation of  symptoms that OxyContin has been artificially suppressing.

Just a few short weeks of OxyContin use can result in a dependence. Withdrawal effects may be worse if you’ve taken OxyContin over long periods – for instance, over several years to help treat chronic pain. Withdrawal from OxyContin can be uncomfortable, but it rarely life-threatening. The common symptoms that occur when a person who is Oxy-dependent begins to quit include:

  • abdominal cramping
  • anxiety or agitation
  • body pain
  • cravings
  • diarrhea
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • mood swings
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • sleep disorders
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • vomiting
  • watering eyes

Can I Just Quit

 Most times, no. You cannot just stop taking OxyContin.

While you can quit taking OxyContin at any time, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t abruptly stop this medication. OxyContin causes strong withdrawal symptoms in people who are physically dependent. These symptoms may be eased with medical intervention. Withdrawal is extremely unpleasant and can be relieved immediately by taking another dose.

Other times, it may be best to seek medical advice first. This is especially true in cases when people are:

  • Extremely drug tolerant.
  • High dose, long-time users.
  • In poor general health.
  • Pregnant.
  • Using another medication(s).

Plus, if you are addicted to OxyContin, you must address the underlying psychological cause for your OxyContin problem – or you may end up needing to continue taking it in order to cope. So, while some people can quit OxyContin at once, just know that it is difficult and may be counterproductive.

Cold Turkey

Stopping OxyContin suddenly isn’t a good option for most people. Doctors always recommend OxyContin dosage be gradually tapered to help avoid withdrawal effects. Stopping suddenly can also cause an OxyContin relapse if you feel the need to take it to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

There might be situations in which you need to stop taking OxyContin cold turkey. This includes:

  1. Medical emergencies.
  2. Suggested treatment for addiction.
  3. Treatment compliance.

This isn’t the easiest option, but if you have negative effects from the drug or drug addiction won’t allow you to take moderate doses, it can be the best way to handle certain medical needs. If you have an OxyContin addiction, don’t expect to be able to quit cold turkey without help – talk to a doctor or therapist about how you can handle the underlying emotional factors which drive your addiction.

Medical Detox

Since OxyContin can be hard to quit, medical assistance is important. In fact, detox makes the process of withdrawal more humane. If you go to a medical detox, you can expect the following:

1. Assessment

When you enter a detox clinic, you will spend about an hour in discussion, assessment, and completion of paper work. Then, you may be asked to take a drug test. This first assessment is important because it helps detox clinics plan the services for your therapy.

2. Evaluation

The next step is spending another hour of discussion with detox clinic doctors who will take your medical history, complete a physical examination, and complete a psychological evaluation. Also, if there is a need for medicines to ease withdrawal symptoms, nurses obtain prescriptions from a licensed physician and initiate medication-based treatment.

3. Tapering Schedules

Detox tapering schedules are completed according to doctor’s orders. During this time, you may expect to experience withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin. So, educate yourself when specific OxyContin symptoms occur during withdrawal.

4. Transfer to Treatment

Medical detox is only the first step in getting OxyContin out of your system. Once the drug is removed, you may need to learn how to live drug-free. Addiction treatment helps people stay quit. But, no one can force you to enroll into addiction rehab. It’s your choice.


Medications help prevent relepse and make detox more humane. Some of the most commonly used medicines include:

  • Antidepressants can address symptoms of underlying depression.
  • Anti-diahhreals are prescribed to treat diarrhea.
  • Buprenorphine prevents withdrawal symptoms and cuts cravings.
  • Clonidine is prescribed for anxiety, agitation, sweating, runny nose, cramping, and muscle pain.
  • Dicyclomine hydrochloride can be used to treat abdominal cramps.
  • Hydroxyzine and Promethazine reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Methadone prevents withdrawal symptoms and cuts cravings.
  • Methocarbamol is used to treat joint pain and muscle cramps.
  • Naltrexone cuts the rewarding effects of oxycodone.
  • Trazodone is used to treat depression and anxiety.

NOTE: When using medications during detox, report symptoms of feeling high. This way, you can be careful not to replace one addiction with another.


Detox at Home


Any home detox requires medical supervision. This means that you first need to get permission and tapering suggestions from your prescribing doctor. This step is important because Oxy withdrawal is not for everyone. People in poor general health, people diagnosed with addiction, or those with specific medical problems may not be eligible.

After getting medical permission, gradually reducing your dose over several weeks or even months is the best way to stop taking OxyContin. The US Department of Veterans Affairs suggest safely tapering schedule for opioid painkillers inducing oxycodone as following:

  • Decrease by 20%-50% per day to 30 mg/day, then…
  • Decrease by 10 mg/day every 2-5 days

If this schedule doesn’t work for you, talk to your doctor about an appropriate dosing schedule, so that you can safely taper yourself off of OxyContin.

Tapering Guidelines

The safest way to quit taking OxyContin is by reducing the daily dose. BUT first, you need to consult with your doctor and follow his/her instructions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gives a safe tapering plan for opoid painkillers including these guidelines:

  1. Decrease dosage by 20%-50% per day to 30 mg/day.
  2. Decrease by 5 mg/day every 3-5 days to 10 mg/day.
  3. Decrease by 2.5 mg/day every 3-5 days.
  4. Avoid reducing the daily dose by over 50% at any given interval.

NOTE: If the tapering plan doesn’t work for you, request your doctor adjust the dosage.

Stop Taking OxyContin Safely

The safest way to stop taking OxyContin is by consulting a doctor and following his or her instructions. The 2010 FDA OxyContin Safety Label reads:

When the patient no longer requires therapy with OxyContin, taper the dose gradually to prevent signs and symptoms of withdrawal in the physically-dependent patient.

Tapering guidelines will generally follow a timeline but may be adjusted to accommodate individual factors, like age, weight, gender, or medical conditions. Still, the safest way to quit is in a medical detox clinic. There, you will receive medical supervision 24-7, and can be given medications for symptoms as they occur. Why suffer alone? You can benefit from the more humane treatment offered in a clinical detox.

There are currently several effective and safe medical treatments including medications which can help ease the symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal. Some medications currently used to treat withdrawal from OxyContin in a medical detox clinic include:

  • Antidepressants – Depression and other mental conditions may appear when people are going through OxyContin withdrawal
  • Clonidine – used to reduce anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping.
  • Naltrexone – used to prevent relapse.
  • Diphenoxylate and Loperamide – used to treat diarrhea.
  • Hydroxyzine and Promethazine – used to prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Dicyclomine hydrochloride – used to treat abdominal cramps and cramping.

Nevertheless, the safest way to quit OxyContin is with the help of medically trained staff that can deal with physical as well as psychological issues. In order to lower the risk of relapse and many other complications due to withdrawal, it is necessary to get professional help from addiction doctors, nurses, and licensed psychologists.


Do I Have a Drug Problem?

To assess risk of a drug problem, be honest about why you use OxyContin.

Do you get a euphoric rush from OxyContin?
Are you taking OxyContin to avoid emotional or mental problems?
Do you think about OxyContin all the time?
Is it becoming difficult to hide your use?
Is OxyContin use negatively affecting your home, social, school, or work life?

If you’ve answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, it might be time to take a medical assessment for opioid addiction.If you are not sure that you have a problem with OxyContin, download our free guide How To Quit Opioid Painkillers to find brief self-screening questions to assess opioid drug use in the past six (6) months.

OxyContin is a strong highly-addictive prescription medication. There is no shame in having a problem. And if you do recognize patterns of drug misuse in yourself, you are not alone! Following the years of its release, oxycodone has become not only one of the most prescribed painkillers, but also one of the most abused ones. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health people aged 18-25 were most likely to report ever having abused oxycodone (9.9%) compared to 6% of people 26 and older. Moreover, the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: Facing Addiction In America shared that 1.7 million persons (0.7%) aged 12 or older have used OxyContin non-medically in the past year.

Where to Get Help

STEP 1: Be honest. As mentioned before, you first need to get real with yourself. So, the first step you’ll need to take is to admit that you have a problem.

STEP 2: Ask for help. People no longer see drug addiction as a moral issue; it is a medical problem. Still, OxyContin can be hard to quit, so don’t waste your time: ASK FOR HELP. There are people that can help you. You only need to seek help… Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own well-being. Only you are the capable to turn your life around to start living better.

STEP 3: Seek specialty help. Decide if you want to go through medical detox and/or addiction rehab. The main places to find specialized services include:

  • Addiction rehabs
  • Licensed psychologists
  • Licensed psychiatrists
  • Medical detox clinics
  • Medical doctors
  • Pharmacists

If you think you may be addicted, rehab for OxyContin dependence can help immensely. A stay in rehab will help you uncover WHY you use painkillers for emotional or mental pain…and how to live without them. When you are searching for the best rehab for you, you will need to decide between two choices: inpatient or outpatient program.

Inpatient or residential treatment provides 24/7 medical care and supervision of addiction treatment. In fact, patients leave their homes and reside in the facility during the recovery program. During this program, professionals provide around-the-clock care, and will prepare you for life after rehab. Some of the common things that inpatient programs have include:

  • individual therapy sessions
  • group therapy sessions
  • educational classes about addiction and recovery

Outpatient treatment offers similar therapies as inpatient programs, but they do not around-the-clock care since the patients don’t live in the facility. Instead, they work on a schedule for a few hours several days weekly. During these hours, patients visit addiction counselor to follow up with the program. This type of treatment provides flexibility because it allows to continue work, school and home responsibilities.


 Maybe you are having problems with OxyContin. Maybe you want a life without mind altering chemicals. Or maybe you’re afraid you will OD on OxyContin. Whatever your reason, you probably won’t be able to just quit OxyContin on your own. Long-term OxyContin use causes dependence and even addiction, and it’s hard to quit OxyContin without experiencing debilitating side effects.

If you are ready to quit for good, be sure that you have these three supports:

  1. Personal determination. You need a reason to quit. Make a list of the main reasons why you want to stop.
  2. Medical resources. Contact your prescribing doctor, a pharmacist, or a medical detox for help.
  3. Emotional support. Be sure that your environment is supportive of the change. If the people are you are not ready for you to quit, your path will be much, much more difficult.

Don’t Hesitate To Ask

Do you still have questions about how to stop taking OxyContin? Please leave them below. We do our best to respond personally and promptly to your questions. And if we can’t answer your questions, we’ll refer you to someone who can.

Reference Sources: ToxNet: Oxycodone
PubMed: The controversy surrounding OxyContin Abuse: issues and solutions
Department of Justice Drug Alert: Generic OxyContin Emerges as New Threat
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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