What Are the Effects of Oxycodone Withdrawal? – Oxycodone and other opioid painkillers are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 75% of those who misuse opioids do so with either hydrocodone or oxycodone, and nearly 45% of that group favors oxycodone. Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can persist for up to one week and may include the following:
- Irritability and agitation
- Depression and thoughts of suicide
- Impaired concentration
- Headaches and body aches
- Runny nose
- High blood pressure
- Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
What is Oxycodone Dependence?
Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin, a brand name prescription opioid. Oxycodone works by activating opioid receptors and altering levels of dopamine in the brain, thereby modifying pain perception and inducing euphoric feelings – this action makes opioids some of the most addictive drugs. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and chemical messenger critical to brain processes that regulate pleasure and reward. Withdrawal symptoms are a product of dependence. Dependence occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to the consistent presence of oxycodone, and, after a prolonged period of opioid receptor activation and altered chemical messaging, becomes unable to function correctly without it. As a result, when someone discontinues oxycodone, the brain will try to regain balance, and withdrawal symptoms occur. Abruptly stopping oxycodone use can disrupt vital signs and lead to multiple withdrawal effects, both physical and psychological. It is not recommended to stop taking oxycodone “cold turkey,” without the help of a qualified addiction specialist.
Potential Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal
Physically, withdrawal from opioids is usually similar to the experience of having the flu. As such, a person undergoing an oxycodone withdrawal may experience the following flu-like symptoms:
- Body aches
- Chills and sweats
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Runny nose
- Excessive yawning and tearing
High blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and difficulty breathing are more serious side effects that may also manifest once someone has become deeply dependent on oxycodone and stops using it. Side effects of withdrawal are not usually life-threatening, but dangerous complications can occur, so opioid withdrawal should be monitored closely.
The psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may also be very unpleasant because the chemicals in the brain associated with positive emotions and motivation may take time to recover to previous levels. Emotional and psychological symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal may include:
- Irritability and agitation
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mental “fog”
- General discomfort
A person undergoing oxycodone withdrawal may also experience intense drug cravings and the desire to revert to using the drug as a means to alleviate the side effects of withdrawal.
Detox and Oxycodone Withdrawal Duration
Note that withdrawal is the multitude of side effects that manifest when a person who is dependent on a drug discontinues using it, while detox refers only to the process of eliminating the substance from the system. Oxycodone withdrawal usually onsets within 8-12 hours of the last use, and peaks in the first 72 hours. Symptoms generally abate in about one week, although some of the psychological effects and drug cravings may continue for much longer. The time frame within which withdrawal symptoms begin depends upon the average dose of oxycodone used and the method in which it has been administered. Immediate-release formulas have a half-life of 3-4 hours, for instance, while extended-release oxycodone has a longer half-life of around 12 hours. Also, as opposed to swallowing a pill orally, injecting, snorting, or smoking oxycodone transports the drug more rapidly into the bloodstream, suggesting that it will result in a more rapid onset of effects but will be active for a shorter period. In some cases, a medical detox program may begin even before withdrawal symptoms start and the drug is still active in the body. The drug can be safely removed using this method. During a medical detox, individuals are monitored around the clock for several days and medications may be administered to manage the more difficult withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox ensures that an individual is stable before moving on with a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program.
Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction
While medications such as Suboxone and naltrexone are available to help patients endure oxycodone withdrawals and recover from addiction, most addiction professionals recognize that medications alone are not the complete answer for preventing relapse and maintaining long-lasting abstinence. Addiction is a chronic disease that affects many aspects of a person’s mental and physical health, and a comprehensive approach is needed to treat it adequately. Moreover, evidence-based behavioral therapies, individual and group counseling sessions, and support groups should also be included in an integrated treatment program. Our center offers these services, expertly managed by addiction professionals who provide clients with the tools they so desperately need to recover. You don’t have to wait another day to start reclaiming your life and forging a path to long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Call us as soon as possible to find out how we can help! Related: How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?