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OxyContin Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

OxyContin detox involves managing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, diarrhea, and fever. Symptoms start within hours and can last weeks, varying by OxyContin type. Medical detox offers supervision and medication, and is a crucial first step in addiction treatment.

Struggling with Opioid Addiction? Get Help Now

OxyContin (oxycodone) is a prescription opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. It’s only intended for short-term use because of the risk of tolerance, dependence, and Oxycontin addiction

Continued use or misuse of this opioid can lead to physiological dependence. If you are dependent on oxycodone, you’ll develop OxyContin withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly quit taking it. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be extremely difficult to manage on your own. Fortunately, medical detox can provide you with 24/7 medical care and supervision to ensure your comfort and safety.

What Causes OxyContin Withdrawal?

Researchers say that chronic opioid use dampens the brain’s ability to release dopamine—a key chemical that produces a feeling of well-being.[8] People feel less intoxication from their drugs, and they need more to get high. At the same time, they need drugs to produce dopamine at all, as the brain has downregulated production. People experience heightened fear and anxiety when they try to get sober.

Opioids can also modulate the release of chemicals like serotonin and GABA.[8] During withdrawal, a lack of these chemicals can make people feel physically ill.

OxyContin withdrawal symptoms are sometimes described as flu-like. However, people who have moved through the process also experience mental distress, which is uncommon with the flu. Painful withdrawal is a main reason some people keep using drugs like OxyContin.[8] They’re too afraid to experience another uncomfortable withdrawal episode.

While these symptoms tend to be more severe in those who abuse OxyContin and have an addiction, even people using OxyContin per a doctor’s orders can become dependent and experience withdrawal.

For example, doctors say people using opioids in a hospital can experience symptoms if they stop after just five days of constant use.[1]

OxyContin Withdrawal Symptoms

OxyContin withdrawal symptoms may include the following:[2],[3]

  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Goosebumps
  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Yawning

Not everyone will experience all of these withdrawal symptoms. The manifestation and intensity of symptoms depends on many factors, such as:

  • What dose you used
  • Formulation used (long-acting vs. short-acting)
  • How long you used OxyContin
  • Whether you mixed it with other drugs
  • Individual physiology
  • Previous withdrawal experiences
  • Kidney and liver functioning
  • Method of administration (e.g. snorting or injecting)
  • Overall physical and mental health
  • Genetics

Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms

Protracted withdrawal is also referred to as post-acute withdrawal, which involves symptoms that linger well after acute OxyContin withdrawal has resolved. These symptoms may last a few weeks, months, or even a year after stopping this opioid. These post-acute withdrawal symptoms may include: [4]

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional blunting
  • Attention and concentration issues

These symptoms aren’t always consistently present or at the same intensity. They may flare up due to triggers or stressful life events. If you are experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms after quitting OxyContin, it’s essential to receive ongoing support in the form of therapy or counseling. You may also want to attend a support group.

How Long Does OxyContin Withdrawal Last?

How long your withdrawal symptoms last will depend on many individual factors. This is especially true for the type of OxyContin formulation you’re taking. This opioid comes in immediate-release tablets and extended-release pills.

If you are taking immediate-release OxyContin, your symptoms will appear shortly after your last dose and will last a few days to one week.

Conversely, if you are taking an extended-release formulation, your symptom onset may be delayed and may last closer to two or three weeks.

OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline: Immediate-Release

Your OxyContin withdrawal timeline may vary, but if you are addicted to an immediate-release formulation, you will experience withdrawal symptoms within 6-12 hours after your last dose and could last up to one week.[3],[5]

Time Since Last DoseWithdrawal Experience
6-12 hoursOxyConin withdrawal symptoms emerge
2-3 daysSymptoms peak in intensity
5-7 daysSymptoms improve and resolve

OxyContin Withdrawal Timeline: Extended-Release

If you have been taking an extended-release version of OxyContin, your withdrawal timeline will be delayed and extended. Symptoms may appear within 2-4 days after your last dose and can last up to 30 days.[3],[5]

Time Since Last DoseWithdrawal Experience
2-4 daysOxyContin withdrawal symptoms appear
1 weekSymptoms peak in severity
10-20 daysSymptoms begin to improve and disappear

Regardless of the formulation, many people experience protracted or post-acute withdrawal which can last for weeks, months, or even a year after they’ve quit misusing oxycodone.

Is OxyContin Withdrawal Dangerous?

Generally, opioid withdrawal is not considered to be life-threatening in and of itself; however, it can potentially lead to dangerous consequences.

For example, intense vomiting and diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can have harmful effects.

Another complication is aspiration, which occurs when someone vomits and breathes the vomit into their lungs. This can lead to a lung infection, which could be life-threatening without treatment.

However, the biggest risk associated with OxyContin withdrawal is the risk of relapse and overdose. During withdrawal, your opioid tolerance decreases, which means you’d need a lower dose to feel the effects. And many people experience such distressing symptoms during withdrawal that they return to opioid use to relieve these symptoms—often using the dose they were using prior to withdrawal. This could lead to an overdose because of their lowered tolerance.

Experts say going through withdrawal without help increases your chances of an overdose.[7] If you think you can’t handle it, get help. There’s no reason to go through withdrawal alone when there is professional treatment available.

Your discomfort could also come from sources we haven’t mentioned. For example, in one study, almost half of all participants returned to painkiller abuse when they felt deep pain from old injuries during withdrawal. [6]

Each person’s body is different, and your withdrawal experience is likely to be as unique as you are. Don’t wait to get help with this very difficult process.

Medical Detox for Oxycodone Withdrawal Management

If you are addicted to oxycodone or have been misusing it (as opposed to taking it medically), then a medical detox setting is the safest place to go through withdrawal. Medical detox can occur in various settings, such as:

  • Psychiatric hospital
  • Medical hospital
  • Freestanding detox center that offers medical care
  • Inpatient rehab that offers medical detox

Metox detox for oxycodone withdrawal typically involves:

  • Around-the-clock monitoring, supervision, and medical care from a team of doctors and nurses
  • Opioid withdrawal medications, such as buprenorphine or methadone
  • Supportive care and adjunctive medications
  • Detox counseling
  • Case management and wraparound services
  • Nutritional counseling

Opioid withdrawal medications like methadone and buprenorphine relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that you feel more comfortable while you detox. Also, the medical team is available 24/7 to address any psychiatric or medical health issues or complications that may arise during withdrawal.

The team may also use adjunctive medications to treat individual symptoms, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain, anti-nausea medications, or a medication like clonidine to help with rapid heart rate and sweating.

Is Detox the Same as Addiction Treatment?

No, opioid detox is not the same as addiction treatment. Detox is only the first step on the continuum of addiction care. Its main purpose is to help you go through withdrawal safely and help you achieve medical stabilization.

Detox doesn’t offer ongoing therapy and counseling to help you understand why you used oxycodone in the first place and how to avoid it in the future.

Once you complete detox, it’s extremely beneficial to transition into an oxycodone rehab program where you can learn coping strategies, heal from trauma, learn sober social skills, receive support from peers, and receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.

People who move through a medical detox and then get follow-up addiction care (such as medication management and therapy) have drastically reduced death rates when compared to people who get no treatment at all. [7]

Whether you withdraw on your own or go into a structured detox program, remember to follow up your care with professional opioid addiction treatment.

How to Choose a Medical Detox Partner

Many people feel overwhelmed at the thought of finding someone to help them with addiction. You could start your search by contacting your insurance company and asking about preferred providers. You’ll get a somewhat narrow list of organizations to choose from.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends looking for the following characteristics in providers:[10]

  • Qualified: The program should be licensed by your state and accredited by a national compliance organization.
  • Evidence-based: The program should use effective and proven addiction treatments, such as medications and therapy.
  • Continuing: The program should have a plan for your long-term recovery, including the ability to transfer you to a rehab program.

If you’re feeling too unfocused or unwell to conduct this search, a close friend or family member can help. However, the final decision is yours. Ensure that the facility you choose is one in which you feel safe, comfortable, and supported.

How to Prepare for Withdrawal & Detox

Addiction treatment works, but experts say only about 13% of people with drug use disorders get qualified help.[9] If you’re considering a detox program, setting aside time to get ready could be helpful.

Consider these steps to help you prepare:

  1. Talk with your treatment provider. Some detox facilities ask patients to enter treatment in the early stages of withdrawal, so medications can be administered immediately. Others don’t have this requirement. Ensure you know what your program requires.
  2. Settle your affairs. Take time away from work, arrange for childcare, and find a pet sitter. You’ll need to focus on your recovery, not the details of everyday life.
  3. Pack properly. Your treatment team should give you a list of things to bring (and items to leave at home). In general, you’ll bring comfortable clothes and personal care items, but you’ll leave drugs and intoxicants at home.
  4. Tell people you trust. Entering rehab is a personal and private affair. You’re not required to disclose your plans to anyone, but it’s helpful to have a community of support at your side. Your friends and family might be willing to help you through the next steps if you tell them what you’re doing.

Your treatment will begin as soon as you walk through the doors of the facility. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss the therapies you want and don’t want. But in general, your detox program will consist of medications, rest, and counseling. In time, you’ll be ready to move to the rehab portion of care, where you’ll learn to preserve your sobriety for a lifetime.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated March 5, 2024
  1. Acute Opioid Withdrawal: Identification and Treatment Strategies. (November 2016). U.S. Pharmacist.
  2. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. (2009). World Health Organization.
  3. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
  4. Protracted Withdrawal. (2010). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  5. Opioid Withdrawal Support. Indian Health Service.
  6. Withdrawal-Associated Injury Site Pain (WISP): A Descriptive Case Series of an Opioid Cessation Phenomenon. (December 2016). PAIN.
  7. Association between mortality rates and medication and residential treatment after in-patient medically managed opioid withdrawal: a cohort analysis. Walley, A. Y., Lodi, S., Li, Y., Bernson, D., Babakhanlou-Chase, H., Land, T., & Larochelle, M. R. (2020). Addiction (Abingdon, England), 115(8), 1496–1508.
  8. Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms, a Consequence of Chronic Opioid Use and Opioid Use Disorder: Current Understanding and Approaches to Management. (January 2020). Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics.
  9. Making Addiction Treatment More Realistic and Perfect Should Not be the Enemy of the Good. (January 2022). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  10. Struggling with Addiction? Tips on Finding Quality Treatment. (January 2019). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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