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OxyContin Withdrawal Treatment: How to Treat OxyContin Withdrawal


ARTICLE OVERVIEW: OxyContin (oxycodone) is one of the most effective prescriptions for pain relief. Yet, it also gets people hooked after a few weeks of daily dosing. When people who are dependent on OxyContin try to quit, the body goes through withdrawal in a way they may not be prepared for. This article outlines how you can effectively treat OxyContin withdrawal and make symptoms less painful. Then, your questions are welcomed at the end.


Table of Contents:

Addictive Potential

OxyContin (oxycodone) is pharmaceutical drug prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Usually, it is used when other (non-opioid) pain medications aren’t doing the job. However, it is a strong psychoactive drug that comes with addiction liability.

How does it work?

Oxy works by attaching itself to opioid receptors within the brain and spinal cord and blocking spread of pain messages to the brain. But, it also interacts with the reward system of the brain, triggering the release of dopamine and feelings of pleasure.

For these reasons, oxycodone products are in Schedule II of the federal Controlled Substance Act of 1970. In fact, OxyContin is considered a highly addictive drug. In fact, the drug has been deemed heavily responsible for the current opioid crisis. At the moment, we’re seeing people prescribed prescription opioids, running out of their medication, and turning to the streets to feed their addiction.

Risk of Overdose

A big reason it’s important to get yourself off OxyContin is because overdosing is a possible risk factor. Overdose isn’t limited to heroin. All narcotic drugs that work like opiates are known to cause tolerance. The more you use OxyContin, the duller the sensations…you need to take more to achieve initial effect.

When euphoric sensation competes with risk of death, you’re chasing the dragon. In 2016, Rx drugs were responsible for over 42,000 deaths in the U.S.. 40% of these were due to prescription opioids. That’s around 115 deaths a day.

But when you withdraw from OxyContin, risk of overdose also increases. Your tolerance is lower.and you cannot use at high levels. If you go through withdrawal and then relapse…death is a real possibility. This is why effective treatments using medication can help. More in the next sections on lowering risk of overdose after detox.

Symptoms

OxyContin withdrawal is similar to detoxing from narcotics such as heroin, which has been described like a very bad flu. How people withdraw varies from individual to individual and depends greatly on how much of the body has adapted to the drug’s chemicals. Still, everyone experiences some effect of withdrawal, the main symptoms of which include:

Early Symptoms (First 24 hours):

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and bone pain
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Later Symptoms (Days 2-4):

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Craving
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps and cold flashes
  • Nausea
  • Sleep problems
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Vomiting

If these symptoms seem mild, know that many people experience them at high levels of discomfort. Medical detox can address symptoms as they occur.

Onset

Withdrawal signs usually start within 6–10 hours after the last dose. If you took the medication in a pill form, you can expect to begin feel its sensations fade away around 12 to 24 hours. But, if you’ve been abusing OxyContin, there’s chance that you’ll start feeling withdrawal symptoms 4 to 6 hours after your last dose.

Duration

Generally speaking, people feel the strongest of the symptoms for the first three days after their last dose, followed by a week to two week period where the symptoms become mild. As you’ll read later on, there are a variety of ways to relieve withdrawal symptoms, making the process bearable.

Again, it all depends on the individual. There are some who will feel the severe withdrawal symptoms for over a week. This not only has to do with their dependence on the drug, but also their:

  • Environment
  • Genetic factors
  • Stress levels

In order to truly understand your specific needs for an OxyContin withdrawal, you’re going to want to contact a professional and set yourself up in a treatment center.


All cases of OxyContin withdrawal should be supervised by a medical professional to prevent complications and address symptoms as they occur.


Can You Detox at Home?

Yes, but it is not recommended.

Withdrawing from OxyContin is difficult enough. There are very few who successfully quit at home. Furthermore, some withdrawal symptoms can provoke dehydration or severe mood disorders. For these reasons, it can actually be dangerous to withdrawal from home.

Still, some people do attempt to get off Oxy on their own. Usually, these folks get medical clearance from a prescribing doctor first. Then, the go through withdrawal under the supervision of a doctor who can cater to their needs. However, if you decide to take this route, you’ll want to guarantee you have a strong support system and a caring home environment. Without these two factors, your chances of success decrease.

Medically Supervised Detox

Experts recommend that you go through an inpatient detox during OxyContin withdrawal. While under medical supervision, you can expect to be tested and examined as a means of discovering exactly what you’ll need for a proper detox. These tests include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Blood chemistry
  • Blood and urine
  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Diseases such as hepatitis C, HIV, and tuberculosis
  • EKG (electrocardiogram)
  • Liver Functioning

Doctors can give you a proper estimate of how severe your detox process and also supply you with the right medication. It’s important to note that medications should only be used for easing withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapse. There are rare occurrences where these medications actually cause people to go back to OxyContin.

Medications

The medicines listed here are used for most opioid withdrawal symptoms, but have been proven highly useful in OxyContin detox:

  • Buprenorphine (Subutex): Not only does it ease withdrawal symptoms but has also been found to sometimes shorten the length of detox. It may be used for a longer period of time than the detox itself, for proper maintenance on the body. It also may be combined with other medications.
  • Clonidine: A medication primarily used to reduce certain symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramps. It will not get rid of any cravings you may experience.
  • Methadone: The medication most doctors recommend for an opioid withdrawal as it eases symptoms and helps with the detoxing process. It’ll also probably be used as a long-term maintenance medication for the sake of avoiding relapse. Generally speaking, people take Methadone throughout a six months (sometimes up to years), then ease off it slowly.
  • Naltrexone: Mainly used in order to prevent relapse.

If this isn’t your first time attempting to quit OxyContin, you might want to consider asking your doctor about the medications for long-term maintenance. Not only do people experience more success withdrawing with these medication but medication-assisted treatment also keeping them off OxyContin for good.

You see, the withdrawal process is just the beginning of quitting. What you may need to be 100% successful in avoiding OxyContin is:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient counseling
  • Self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery

As you research different ways to properly withdrawal from OxyContin, you’re going to come across a variety of treatment facilities. Within those facilities, they’re going to offer you either an inpatient program (living within the facility) or an outpatient program (withdrawing from home).

Signs of a Drug Problem

Have you wondered if you’re actually addicted to OxyContin? You can tell when someone has a problem if drugs heavily affect someone’s life, health, and responsibilities. Signs of having a drug problem include:

1. Being unable to quit OxyContin
2. Cravings
3. Continuation of use, even when problems arise

Inpatient and Outpatient Programs

So, do you think you might be addicted to Oxy? If so, do you need additional treatment?

Again, the right treatment plan depends on the individual. Some people are going to need more time and support than others. Upon entering a treatment facility and getting testing, you’ll figure out which option is right for you. However, most people with an OxyContin addiction go through their physical detox and follow this up with psychotherapy..

This can be risky for some, as the potential to relapse even after physical withdrawals is still there. The only way to assure that one avoids this risk is by offering them a strong support system backed by proper therapies.

Typical therapies for OxyContin addiction include:

  • Medication Management: Taking a prescribed medication from the list above.
  • Behavioral Therapy: A counseling that looks into what could trigger relapse, understand the patterns, and ultimately, prevent it.
  • Family Therapy and Education: A way in which loved ones can better understand the individual’s situation and feelings and offer them advice on how to support.
  • 12-Step Program: A means of meeting other individuals who’ve undergone similar addictions and offer support through each of their personal experiences.

Preventing Relapse

One of the keys to preventing any drug relapse is to have a strong support system. With the help of family, friends, and loved ones, there’s a strong chance of averting any indications of relapse. Support can also be beneficial in preventing addiction behavioral patterns.

There are a number of steps to take in order to break an addiction patterns.

  • Attend talk therapy sessions.
  • Avoid triggers for the drug.
  • Enter a sober living home.
  • Stay away from places in which you used the drug.
  • Regularly attend therapy groups.

Dependence Vs. Addiction

There is a difference between drug dependence and drug addiction. Not all people who go through Oxy withdrawal are addicted to it. In fact, many people who take a prescription medicine every day over a long period of time can become dependent; when they go off the drug, they need to do it gradually, to avoid withdrawal discomfort. But people who are dependent on a drug or medicine aren’t necessarily addicted.

Here’s the main difference:

Dependence is a way that the body adapts to a drug in order to function. When you are drug-dependent, the brain creates chemicals to accommodate a drug. Because oxycodone is a depressant, the brain “speeds up” certain functions. Take away the drug, and you’ll trigger withdrawal when a person stops using a drug.

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Addiction triggers changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.

How People Become Addicted

The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person’s ability to choose becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function.

OxyContin is primarily used as a pain reliever. It is prescribed for anything from a broken leg to dental pain. NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse stated in March of 2018 that opioid addiction problems were partly the result of pharmaceutical companies playing down the addiction liability. Consequently, doctors began prescribing more and more pain killers.

It’s only in the past year that the CDC has published guidelines for how to prescribe pain medicines like Oxy.

So, many people got addicted to OxyContin simply by having a prescription for it. It’s super effective for pain. And it’s super effective for getting people high. People get hooked is its euphoric effects.

Plus, the more a person takes OxyContin, the more of a tolerance they build to these euphoric effects. Therefore, they’re often left taking more in order to experience the same high they had received upon first taking OxyContin.

In the 2016 NSDUH performed by SAMHSA, researchers reported that more than half of those they interviewed had been misusing their pain relief medication. Due to this misuse, the body and mind adapt to the drug as though it is normal. When an individual stops taking it, they’re bound to experience withdrawal.

Your Questions

We hope to have answered most of your questions related to withdrawal. But, we know that you still may have a question.

Please, ASK!

We invite all our reader to submit questions in the comments section below. In fact, we’ll try to respond to all real-life questions personally and promptly. Know that you are not alone. We are here to help.

Reference Sources: FDA: OxyContin: Medication Guide
DEA: Narcotics
MedlinePlus: Opiate and Opiate Withdrawal 
NIDA: Opioid Overdose Crisis 
American Addiction Centers: Understanding OxyContin Withdrawal

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20 Responses to “OxyContin Withdrawal Treatment: How to Treat OxyContin Withdrawal
Mark Willenbring, MD
1:56 am January 24th, 2013

Suboxone is the best treatment for opioid withdrawal, period. Clonidine is very distant second best that helps a little but not much. Most people who become addicted to opioids require long-term treatment with either methadone or buprenorphine. There is not one study published that finds that abstinence-based treatments are effective, no matter how long they go one. It is cruel to suggest that people addicted to opioids can remain abstinent if they “get the program” or “work the steps.” Dozens of studies demonstrate that this is false. People with more than one year of daily or near daily addiction to opioids require long-term opioid agonist therapy with either methadone or buprenorphine. Whether you like or not that is a demonstrated, scientifically proven fact. Now, you may believe in astrology, acupunture, Chi, spiritual healing, energy therapy or whatever, but there isn’t any evidence to support your assertions. If you have cancer, you can choose between moxibuxtion and chemotherapy, but if you want to live longer and more comfortably, you will choose modern, scientifically based medicine.

1:54 pm January 24th, 2013

Thanks for your input, Dr. Willenbring. We appreciate your experience and commitment to the science of opioid addiction treatment.

Kat
9:22 pm January 24th, 2013

Hey everyone soo I have not been addicted lOng for about 2 mounths and yesterday I couldn’t get any oxy so I said ENOUGH last night was fine and today I’m still clean but fine I got a bit of the hot and cold flash and def bathroom issues 🙁 ….BUT besides. That my body is ok IT’S MY HEAD. I don’t understand nor no what to do my mind is playing trick like good angel bad devil kinda thing DOO IT noo noo ur fine like AHG. I got an 80mg oxy. Which I usally devise into 4 pieces and if I could just know how to stop my mind I’d be fine orcmaybe I’m not I’m so emotional and just rambling 🙁 I’m sorry any suggestions or kind feedback??
Thanks

wayne
2:10 pm August 24th, 2014

i have arachnodititis in spine from back surgery and also have three forms of arthritis. Ibeen on oxycontin 80 9years . doctors say its still working. I am in a lot of pain and dont know what to do. I do not abuse any medications. thank you

10:25 am September 1st, 2014

Hi Wayne. Are you doing anything else for the pain other than taking the pills? Loosing some weight can lower the pressure on the bones, low impact exercise can help you lower your weight, plus it’s good for your condition on it’s own. There is also the hot and cold therapy, acupuncture, meditation or relaxing massages. Keep this in mind, you can add turmeric to your diet, it contains the chemical called curcumin that may be able to reduce arthritis pain, since it has anti-inflamatory properties.

help
1:48 am September 21st, 2014

im derek was on oxy 80s 5 a day doctor retired no new doctor will need help with withdrawing tricks feel like ran over wiyh truck

10:02 am September 22nd, 2014

Hello Derek. You should definitley go and speak with your new doctor about this. Let him know that you’d want to taper and have him help you create a tapering schedule. Otherwse, cold turkey oxy can be very inhumane.

john
5:15 am September 24th, 2014

Been stuck on oxy for 2yrs now only thing on my mind was dont run out of them everything revolves around oxy i had enough stopped 7days ago cold pain nearly gone now its cramps cant keep still and no sleep whatso ever but im getting there i just want my happy face back

betty a
8:33 pm February 15th, 2015

My daughter in her fifties has been on opiods for years. She has been in treatment twice. It is sad to say she gets her pills from injured knees and knee replacement, now it is her back. this just goes on. Now she is having stomach problems. She does nothing but sleep, ly and watch tv. She works but I know she is going to get fired soon, as she been out so much. She is a beautiful lady and smart, but not smart about some things. The many doctors she goes to continue to give her perscriptions……She need Help

2:27 pm February 18th, 2015

Hello Betty. Why didn’t the two times of treatment work? Are you going to counselling? If she has a problem with opioid drugs, she needs to work on the problem; but, you should also go into therapy and try to understand what it is that drives her back to using the meds. She will need your support and encouragement, and both can learn valuable skills for communication and behavior. I wish you luck and success!

Lorraine
6:44 am April 23rd, 2015

I have been taking Oxycontin for about 11 years. I started with 120 mg time released tablets every 12 hours for about 6 years. I took myself down to 80 mg time released every 12 hours. I am now down to 60 mg time released every 12 hours, and I want to quit all together. I also take hydrocodone 10/325 mg, every 4 hours for breakthrough pain. I have taken the hydrocodones down to about 2 a day now. I think I can quit the hydrocodones altogether, but I can’t seem to stop the oxycontins. I have metal plates in my 5 and 6th vertebrae, so I do get a lot of pain. however, I am determined to stop the pain meds as I am tired of taking them. I want to be normal, and deal with my pain. I will not go through a treatment facility, nor do I want to see a Doctor. Do I have a chance to quit the Oxycontin at home?

Devon
12:27 am June 12th, 2015

I see so many people looking for “help” via other medications like benzos and chances are they have already played a role in their history. For me to take on this battle I had to battle for a “clean & sober” life. I chose to tapper over an 8 week period for 2 main reasons. First, due to spinal nerve impingement I have been on OxyContin & oxycodone for 5 years….as you know your tolerance builds up so your dose goes up so as you can imagine I was close to 300mgs on some days (combining both) and I didn’t think twice about it bc I had the MRI’d to show surgery didn’t work and my doc wrote them, I never ran out so I thought I was “okay”……but going from running marathons, having lots of friends & family, being a personal trainer and having it all to finding myself wondering why my hormones were off, my thyroid not doing it job, ect…….the health problems began to stack up and I began to retreat to my bedroom and disconnect with my world. My life saver was my doc frowning on the fact that I told him I was having lipo bc I was unhappy with my body now. He was very sympathetic towards my pain but pointed out a few major points that changed my life! 1. The opiates over time can increase your pain and there is no higher dose (speaking of pain I would be going into painful surgery topped out unable to take anything stronger than what I was on…..mind you, still having back pain). 2. He said go home and Google what opiates do to your hypothalamus (which btw…..it’s the control center for everything in our bodies, hormones, brain chemistry, nervous system, thyroid….EVERYTHING!!) 3. Look at the patients as you leave, do you want to be that, be what you are now? So, armed with this info I rush home and do my own research only to have this huge messy puzzle of health problems all make sense and come together……all things pointed at one thing…opiates! Back to why I chose to tapper……first, I needed to do this on my own, I wanted to own it, come clean to the people I affected and make them proud and make myself proud. Secondly, I knew I had done damage to my body so my main priority was to do right by this body that had survived such abuse at my hands. I knew it needed to be “babied” and I also did enough research to know that the best thing for my damaged organs & brain was to be eased into health as it healed. I am also blessed to have a good support network and I am a stay at home mom who didn’t have to report to work so I had my husband’s full support to take the time to detox at home. I decided on taking 6-8 weeks vs the year the doc had recommended if I cut by small amounts each week or month. I took all the vital supplements that my brain & body needed for recovery, committed to eating as clean as I could (which trust me was an effort but not perfect) and to come clean to to my support system and find accountability. My accountability was to be honest with my current dose, make a plan and I bought a clear M-S vitamin container which I kept on my bedside table so that I can look at and be proud of what I didn’t take that day or week. Anyone could see where I was at. I cut my dose each Monday and T, W, Th were pure hell, sick as a dog! Friday I did what I could and Sat & Sun I felt good enough to force some cardio & light weights……much of the time it was simply walking but I pushed myself to walk as far and long as I could knowing it would help my brain to produce serotonin to help me feel better (or so I read). For 8 weeks each week went like that. At week 8 I was down to 5mgs of only the oxycodone (slow release) bc I read that dropping the slow release was most important so I was off of that by week 6. At 5 mgs I decided to take the jump……my final week didn’t go as all the others, I didn’t get that Sat & Sun to feel “okay”……I was sick for 4 days longer but I was ok with it bc I realized it was the first time in years my body was getting ZERO opiates! To get through the bad parts of my detox/tapper I used a tens unit which helped my aching legs, I used Aleve or Advil and lots of hot salt baths and my infrared sauna and as much exercise as I could (which sounds like a joke when your withdrawling and someone even suggests that!)……but a little helps! Here is the part that people get lost…….you get through the final physical symptoms and you expect it to all be uphill from there, your support system expects the same but while your legs might feel better, your stomach can hold down food you still have that one last thing we tend to disregard…….our brain! No matter what you do your brain takes so much longer to recover. To begin to work. It’s not all at once…..it’s one chemical or receptor at a time and this can take a year, even more! That I found is where the battle is at! Your clean, your proud but your brain is telling you different……it’s telling you that your still tired, your sad, your scared it might not recover, you feel bla. After all that work and your brain won’t let you be proud, return to the you that you worked so hard to recover. This part really sucks! I thank God I don’t crave the oxy, it’s poison to me and I remind myself daily of this and trust that the cleaner I live……the sooner my brain will begin to work. So, as much as I would love to sit here and say that “YES! In _____ amount of time you will feel great!”……I can’t. I can tell you that each day the cloud lifts, your feeling of empathy and disconnect will slowly return. Don’t rely on what other have been through bc we are all different but please understand the damage this stuff does to our bodies and know that it takes time! Not weeks, not months but possibly years to reclaim yourself physically, mentally & emotionally. Don’t let people who say they feel great X number of weeks out let you down…….we have all been on different doses, different amounts of time, different reasons……and have different bodies to reclaim. Trust the process, trust your process!

wayne
1:00 am July 10th, 2015

I have took 80 mg. twice a day for 10 years for arachnoditis of lower spine andosteroarithris and ra. . talk to doc. about getting off and said could give me moriphine if oxycontin was not working. I said no thanks. I get woke up every night from from this medicine.I am having avery hard time.Iam 61 years old and lost on what to do.can I tolerate getting off at my age. thanks

Peyton
7:03 am March 5th, 2016

Hi I’ve been on them 3yrs or more I’m having a lot of trouble giving them up & have been on 2 40mil a day! I stopped them only taking 1/2 off my dose 40m but not having any luck with it! My pain the sweats, sleepless nights, nusa, ect.. I want to get off them as my health is not good! Has anyone cut down down there own meds?
Kind regards

Paul
8:50 am August 14th, 2017

Hi there people I have been on OxyContin for a couple of years and now I know I’m addicted and I’ve not been prescribed these but originally off what i thought was a caring lady friend but now a long story but now I’m scared and need help,so I went to my gp at my new address they guided me to a place that deals with addiction and I’ve been a few times and I was honest about how I got them and all they tell me is you will be ok and no treatment for me or a replacement so I’m scared now because I thought they or my gp would say hay wait a minute let’s get this going properly and do a 3 way program between me my gp and the addiction place and but I mentioned it to a different doctor I saw at the time not interested and now I’m so scared because I’m feeling really depressed shit and everything and I’m only 39 please can someone help me? many thanks for reading this post

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:39 pm August 25th, 2017

Hi Paul. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

AMBER
7:45 am August 28th, 2017

Hi, I’ve been going through oxy and Percocet withdrawals for the last four days cold turkey bc my docktor quit his job and left all his patients stranded to fend for themselves and my new Dr’s policy is to not write any narcotics rxs for new patients for 6 months. Anyway the withdrawal has been aweful at times I’ve even thought death would be better than this. Like I said I’m on day four and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better any words of encouragement when maybe this will be ending. This pain is terrible. Thanks

Adrian
10:30 pm March 8th, 2018

I have been on oxycodone 15mg IR tab X2 5 times a day since Oct 2017. And 20mg Oxycodone ER X 2 times a day for Chronic pain. I have been tappering off for the last 2 weeks. I stopped the 20mg ER cold turkey no physical withdrawal. The Oxy IR is a little different. I have tappered about 10 percent a day. I am now just taking 1/2 15mg pill 2 times a day. In morning and ar bed time. I have noticed today bowel problems, you all know what I mean. And my legs start to hurt and my arms start tingling. It’s not horrible,but it’s not great either. Wish me luck getting off Narcotic pain killers for good.

Wayne
1:42 am March 14th, 2018

Hi my name is Wayne I’ve been on oxycontin for 13 years 80 mg two times a day under doctor’s care I’m slowly tapering as of November 15th of 2017 I started detox with doctors help I am now taking 120 mg a day to 60 s a day is that going to slow or is that okay

Mark , MD
1:05 am March 16th, 2018

Opioid tapers are easier at first and get harder over time. “That last 10 mg is the hardest” is the rule. So as you get down in dose, it is often best to slow the rate of taper. Unless there is an urgent or emergent reason for rapid taper, there is no benefit from suffering. My usual approach is to drop in increasingly smaller doses, and wait until there are no longer any w/d sxs before the next step down. Take your time. There is no hurry here; what’s important is the end result.
[Disclaimer: my remarks here do *not* constitute medical advice. They are expressions of some general principles I have observed in my practice. Tapers should always be done under medical supervision by your personal physician.]

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