Battling an addiction to oxycodone is a profoundly difficult and emotional journey. It’s even a troubling ordeal for the friends and family of a loved one suffering through an addiction.
It doesn’t matter if it’s used for medicinal or recreational use. Oxycodone is highly addictive. A staggering 75% of prescription opiate abusers use it.
Oxycodone withdrawal can create physical and psychological symptoms that are painful to endure. These symptoms often complicate a person’s ability to quit.
What Causes Oxycodone Withdrawal?
To understand what causes withdrawal, it helps to know how opiates work. There are opiate receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and throughout the body. They release endorphins when neurotransmitters act on them in response to pain.
Opiates attach to these receptors, blocking pain signals as a result. The body experiences an influx of endorphins and dopamine after taking oxycodone. These chemicals produce the infamous euphoria or opiate-induced “high.”
With each use, the brain cues its effects, building a tolerance over time. The brain then begins to crave these effects more intensely. As a person’s tolerance builds, they need to take the drug more frequently or in stronger doses.
The brain eventually stops producing endorphins when there is too many present. Once accustomed to frequent or heavy use, the brain becomes unable to produce them. When someone stops taking oxycodone, the brain responds by creating withdrawal symptoms.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
The physical effects of acute withdrawal often mimic symptoms of the flu. Acute withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
Tremors and stomach cramps are also common. Some people may yawn excessively, get teary eyes, or a runny nose. Others may develop goosebumps, dilated pupils, or blurry vision.
Less frequent users may experience these symptoms in shorter durations. Heavy, frequent users are likely to feel these symptoms longer and more intensely. Heavy users can experience high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, or trouble breathing.
For many, the psychological symptoms are as bad as the physical symptoms – or worse. Psychological symptoms include:
- Mental fogginess
- Suicidal thoughts
The central nervous system needs time to adjust to the absence of oxycodone. Cravings can feel rampant during oxycodone detox. Many wind up taking oxycodone or other drugs for relief before getting through detox.
Duration of Oxycodone Withdrawal
The half-life of oxycodone is a little less than 4 hours. Depending on the dosage and the user’s tolerance, the effects may last shorter or longer.
An oxycodone withdrawal timeline begins around 6-8 hours after the last dose. Restlessness, anxiety, a runny nose, and muscle aches are usually the earliest symptoms.
More intense symptoms will occur within the first 24 hours. These include nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, and rapid heart rate.
Symptoms peak after a few days. They typically begin to taper down and improve around 72 hours. Depending on the extent of one’s addiction, this can be shorter or longer.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline
6-8 Hours: Physical withdrawal symptoms begin. Restlessness and joint and muscle aches are the earliest symptoms.
24-48 Hours: Acute withdrawal symptoms peak. Nausea, vomiting, and sweating are common.
Days 3-5: Acute withdrawal symptoms begin to subside. Muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting may still occur.
Days 6-7: Acute withdrawal symptoms slow down. Diarrhea and nausea may persist. Psychological symptoms are at their peak.
Detoxing from Oxycodone on Your Own
Can you detox from oxycodone at home instead of going to a clinic?
It is possible to detox on your own. However, it’s not recommended to detox without the supervision of a doctor.
A doctor can help you form a detox plan that meets your individual needs. They can provide you with withdrawal management medication.
Some people detox on their own. But there are always complications that can arise from withdrawal. If you’re on your own, you may not be able to receive adequate or timely care.
For example, severe dehydration can occur during detox. Though not as common, pneumonia can develop as a result of inhaling vomit by mistake. The possibility of relapsing is more likely when you’re detoxing on your own.
It’s important to anticipate and prepare for the withdrawal symptoms before they begin. Staying hydrated and drinking electrolytes are crucial. Getting plenty of rest and having someone nearby to help are also important.
You can manage mild symptoms with anti-nausea medicine, NSAIDs, or aspirin. If you can, consult with a doctor before beginning detox on your own.
Medical Detox for Oxycodone
Withdrawal is less severe when a person tapers off a drug instead of abruptly quitting it. There are several types of drug detoxification. Each can help you wean off oxycodone instead of quitting cold-turkey.
Treatment in a controlled environment can maximize your comfort and success. This type of treatment is otherwise known as medical detox.
Before entering a medical detox clinic, it helps to know some things in advance.
How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect
Medical detox entails psychological and pharmacological treatment. Both physicians and mental health specialists work closely with patients in medical detox.
Your doctors will give you a personalized assessment and screen for other substances. They’ll also give you a psychological assessment and screen for other disorders. Once these assessments are complete, patients begin the detox process.
As the symptoms of withdrawal come on, patients can consult with their medical team. Doctors and nurses are available 24/7 to administer withdrawal management medication.
You can rest comfortably, eat easy-to-digest foods, and attend counseling. Depending on the clinic, there may be other services or therapies provided.
Medications Available for Oxycodone Detox
Withdrawal symptoms are often so intense and painful that patients require special medications. These medications mimic oxycodone, tricking the brain into believing that it’s receiving it.
Which medications are usually used in oxycodone detox?
Clonidine is often used to treat the physical symptoms of withdrawal. It can relieve diarrhea, muscle aches, cramping, anxiety, and sweating.
Suboxone helps to reduce cravings and the uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal. It does so without inducing the euphoric effects or the “high” of oxycodone. It combines an opiate, known as buprenorphine, and the opiate blocker, naloxone.
Naltrexone is the most common medication used during medical detox. It works by blocking opiate receptors and the subsequent euphoric effects. It’s usually not administered until after a patient has detoxed.
Understanding Your Detox Options
The central nervous system needs time to recover from oxycodone withdrawal. After detoxing, you’ll be able to take the next steps towards living a healthier, happier life.
It’s important to know your options when you’re preparing to detox from oxycodone. You can begin here to get a better idea of which detox options are available through your insurance.