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OxyContin Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

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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 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?

When you take opioids like OxyContin continually, your brain and body adjust to the presence of it and need it to keep functioning optimally.

Stop using abruptly, and your brain and body need time to recalibrate, resulting in OxyContin withdrawal symptoms, which often feel like having the flu. 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.

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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 September 13, 2023
  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.
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