Is OxyContin cold turkey withdrawal dangerous?

Cold turkey withdrawal from OxyContin can be done. But doctors think it inhumane and therapeutically unrealistic. Learn what meds can help during OC withdrawal, and how medical detox for Oxy Contin withdrawal can help you.

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Detox – withdrawal – freedom

If abstinence from opiate medications is your goal, you must first address your physical narcotic dependence through detoxification. Your body needs to physically adapt and reach homeostasis without the drug before you can even start to work on the psychological and emotional issues that compel you to use it. Or if you have been using OxyContin as prescribed for more than several weeks in a row and want to stop the physical dependence, you must also go through the same process in order to operate without the drug.

Either way, if you want to stop OxyContin for good, you must first get it out of your body.  Know which symptoms of OxyContin withdrawal to expect during detox here.

Is cold turkey OxyContin withdrawal safe?

In general, opioids like OxyContin should not be abruptly stopped. In fact, doctors can supervise and taper the dose of OxyContin gradually to prevent signs and symptoms of withdrawal. But sometimes abrupt cessation and rapid dose reduction cannot be avoided, especially if opioid antagonists have been ordered.

Narcotic withdrawal syndrome from medications like OxyContin is generally not thought to be life-threatening. But “cold-turkey” withdrawal is unpleasant and doctors consider it inhumane and therapeutically unrealistic. Most people who try quitting oxycodone cold turkey end up relapsing because the severity, duration (up to 10 days) and discomfort compel them to use OxyContin just to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal. If you’re considering quitting Oxy’s, think first about getting medical help to increase your chances of success. Here are four (4) reasons why doctors can help you detox:

How doctors help during OxyContin detox

1. Doctors can manage discomfort

First, OxyContin withdrawal is difficult and painful. So you need doctors to help you manage your discomfort during this time. Why? Because repeated exposure to OxyContin causes the body to adapt to the opioid drug, when you stop using OxyContin, withdrawal symptoms appear. These withdrawal symptoms (called withdrawal syndrome) can be more or less severe, depending on the degree of physical dependence. This is why experts recommended that you have medically supervision when stopping OxyContin: to reduce or prevent the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. For example, doctors supervising a OxyContin detox can offer medications or treatments, such as Clonidine, that help ease or relieve symptoms. More on how to help OxyContin withdrawal here.

2. Doctors can offer medical treatment

When you stop taking OxyContin, certain complications are possible as a by-product of the process. Excessive loss of fluids from vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, which doctors can treat with electrolytes. Or a lung infection can result from heavy vomiting. Furthermore, medical professionals can prescribe anti-depressants during withdrawal.

3. Doctors can provide reassurance

It’s hard to tell what’s normal and what’s not during detox. Medical professionals who specialize in detox can offer you specific support based on their experiences. For example, if this is your first time experiencing withdrawal symptoms, some symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, breathing and sweating can be scary. But a medical staff can reassure you of the normalcy of predictable symptoms. And can let you know if and when things go wrong. This type of reassurance goes a long way towards feeling better.

4. Doctors can offer support

Let’s face it – cold turkey withdrawal is hardcore. You don’t need to do it alone. Doctors and nurses can offer emotional and mental support during the most difficult times of a detox. In other words, they can help you get through the mental process of continuing the detox when you want to quit.

Cold turkey withdrawal is not recommended

In sum, quitting OxyContin cold turkey is possible, but not recommended. Oxy’s withdrawal symptoms can be severe and are generally opposite the intoxication effects of the opiate drug. Plus, withdrawal from OxyContin can take up to a week to dissipate before the body stabilizes. Medical supervision increases your chances for a safe and successful withdrawal period from OxyContin. If you want more information on finding a detox center near you, search this national database for drug treatment centers near you.

Reference sources: Daily Med encyclopedia entry for OXYCONTIN (oxycodone hydrochloride) tablets
Opiate withdrawal protocol using clonidine
teens [dot] drugabuse [dot] gov The facts on opioids

justice [dot] gov Publication 651

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.
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