How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Oxycodone in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

How long does oxycodone stay in system?

Verywell / Gary Ferster 

In This Article

Oxycodone is an opiate prescribed for moderate to severe pain when pain relief is needed for an extended time. This pain reliever is often used when people are unable to take other types of pain medications and may be prescribed for an injury, post-surgery pain relief, or other kinds of severe pain.

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled drug, meaning that it has a high potential for misuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Additionally, use of the drug carries the risk of drug interactions and overdose. As a result, taking it safely requires knowing how long it stays in your system.

Oxycodone is active in your system for about a day. The drug can, however, still be detected in drug screenings for as many as three months after use. It can be detected by urine, blood, saliva, and hair tests.

Oxycodone comes in a variety of forms including a liquid solution, tablet, and capsule. Extended-release versions exist as well. Common brands include Percodan, Percocet, Tylox, OxyContin, Roxicodone, Roxicet, and Endocet. As an illicit street drug, it's commonly known as "oxies," "OC," and "hillbilly heroin."

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Urine: Up to four days

Blood: Up to 24 hours

Saliva: Up to four days

Hair: Up to 90 days

How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

The regular forms of oxycodone are taken every four to six hours while the extended-release forms are taken every 12 hours with food. The onset of pain relief action occurs 10 to 15 minutes after taking a single oral dose of medication. For most people, peak pain-relieving effects can be felt between 30 and 60 minutes after taking a dose.

The initial absorption takes around a half-hour. For extended-release forms, there's a second release in about seven hours. When you first start taking oxycodone, you should reach steady levels of the drug in your bloodstream after 24 to 36 hours. Plasma levels of oxycodone can be higher in women, the elderly, and people with renal or liver impairment.

Oxycodone works by changing the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain. It also depresses the central nervous system, so your breathing, heart rate, and other essential functions are affected.

Oxycodone may also cause some side effects that can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Flushed skin
  • Mood changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach ache

More serious may include changes in heart rate, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, hives, swelling, lightheadedness, and seizures. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor or emergency services immediately. 

How Long Does Oxycodone Last?

Your body breaks down oxycodone in the liver into noroxycodone, oxymorphone, and noroxymorphone. These are then excreted by the kidneys into the urine and to a lesser extent in sweat.

The half-life of oxycodone, which refers to the amount of time it takes half the drug to be eliminated from your body, is about 3.2 hours; the half-life for the time-released version (OxyContin) is about 4.5 hours. It takes several half-lives to fully eliminate a drug, and everyone metabolizes medication differently, depending on factors such as age, weight, genetics, and even specific health issues.

Over time, you may develop a tolerance to oxycodone, which means that it might not relieve pain as well as it originally did even while still in your system. Talk to your doctor if this happens. Never take more than your prescribed dose of oxycodone. Your doctor may decide to increase your prescribed dose or switch you to a different type of pain reliever.

Oxycodone's action is effectively eliminated from the blood in 22.5 hours. For most people, the effects of the drug will be completely worn off after 24 hours. However, the drug remains detectable in the body for much longer, even after its effects have worn off.

Oxycodone will be detected by typical employment, medical, and forensic "drugs of abuse" screening tests. With a home testing kit, someone who has taken oxycodone will start to test positive for the drug within one to three hours, and the result will continue to be positive for one to two days, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The following is an estimated range of times, or detection windows, during which oxycodone can be detected by various testing methods.

Urine

Oxycodone is detectable in a urine test for three to four days after the last dose. A standard urine drug screen usually does not test for oxycodone, so additional tests must be used to detect the presence of the drug. 

Blood

In blood tests, the drug is detectable in for up to 24 hours.

Saliva

Oxycodone can also be detected by a saliva test for one to four days after use.

Hair

The drug can be detected by a hair follicle test for a much longer period of time than other test types—up to 90 days.

These are only estimated as the metabolism of oxycodone varies. If you're taking oxycodone by prescription, you should disclose this to the laboratory so they can interpret your test results accurately.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

There are a number of factors that can play a role in how long oxycodone can be detected in your body.

Duration of Use

Oxycodone can build up in your body, so if you have been taking oxycodone for pain for some time, it will be detectable for a longer period of time after you have taken your last dose. If you are taking a drug test, you should inform the lab even if you have stopped taking the drug.

Age

Studies have shown that older adults over the age of 65 clear the drug from their systems at a slower rate than younger adults. In clinical trials, participants over the age of 65 had blood concentrations of the drug 15% higher than younger adults.

Sex

Research has also found that women have blood plasma concentrations of oxycodone that are 20% higher than men, even after accounting for differences in body mass index (BMI) and body weight. The reasons for these differences between sexes remain unclear.

Kidney Function

People with impaired kidney function clear oxycodone at a slower rate. Research has found that people with kidney problems have blood plasma concentrations of the drug that are 50% higher than those with normal renal function.

Liver Impairment

People with impaired liver function may also take longer to clear oxycodone from their systems. For this reason, the FDA recommends that those with liver problems should take starting doses that are a third or half of the usual beginning dose.

How to Get Oxycodone Out of Your System

There are a few things that might help slightly speed up how quickly oxycodone is processed and eliminated from your system. 

The first step is to stop taking the drug; however, you should never stop taking your medication without first talking to your doctor. Because oxycodone can lead to physical dependence, you may experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal if you stop taking it suddenly.

Once you have safely discontinued use of oxycodone, you can speed up the drug's clearance from your system by staying well-hydrated, getting regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. Drinking plenty of fluids can help dilute the presence of the drug in urine, while physical activity and nutritious eating might help boost your body's metabolism of the drug.

Symptoms of Overdose

Knowing how long oxycodone remains in your system is important because of the threat of overdose and dangerous interactions with alcohol and other medications. If you take more of the drug to relieve pain after the effects of your last dose wear off but before the drug is out of your system, you increase your risk of an overdose. You will also risk an overdose if you crush, cut, or chew an extended-release capsule or tablet before consuming it, as this will release the entire dose immediately rather than allowing for timed delivery.

Even when you take the recommended dose of oxycodone, you may experience side effects such as confusion, drowsiness, constipation, and nausea. If you take too much oxycodone, these side effects can become very serious.

Here are some possible side effects of an overdose of oxycodone:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Spasms of the stomach or intestinal tract
  • Vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Coma
  • Drowsiness
  • Possible seizures
  • Breathing issues (breathing may become difficult, slow, or shallow, or may cease)
  • Bluish-colored fingernails and lips

If someone overdoses on oxycodone, call 911 or the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222).

Getting Help

Oxycodone can be habit-forming, so it's important that you not take more, take it more often, or take it in a different manner than prescribed by your healthcare provider. You could be especially at risk for becoming dependent on oxycodone if you have family members with alcohol use disorders, even if they've never used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs. If you have such a family history, you should inform your healthcare provider and make sure you only use oxycodone as directed.

Talk to your doctor if you want to reduce or discontinue taking oxycodone. Your doctor can help you safely stop taking the drug without experiencing withdrawal and prescribe other medications that can help manage your pain. Being dependent on the drug is not the same as being addicted. Dependence means that your body is used to the drug, so stopping cold turkey can lead to potentially serious complications that can include insomnia, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and increased respiration. To avoid this complication, your doctor may opt to gradually decrease your dosage over a period of time, a process known as tapering.

If you need help with an oxycodone addition, your doctor can help. There are medications can help with the withdrawal process including methadone and buprenorphine. Your doctor may also recommend other medications to treat withdrawal symptoms such as antihistamines, sleep aids, and over-the-counter pain relievers.

Treatment options may include inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment centers. You may work with your primary care physician, but your doctor may also suggest psychotherapy provided by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. Some psychological treatments for addiction include cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management.

You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 or use their online tools to find treatment options in your area.

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Article Sources

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