How Long Does Oxymorphone Stay in Your System?

Woman looking at labels on prescription pill bottles

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Oxymorphone is an opiate analgesic used to relieve moderate to severe pain. It works by changing the way the body responds to pain. It is available in intermediate-release forms and extended-release forms, used when patients need continuous, 24-hour relief of severe pain that can't be controlled with non-narcotic pain medications. It isn't used for pain relief for short-term pain.

Oxymorphone has a high risk for interactions with other drugs and can produce life-threatening reactions. It is important for anyone taking this medication to know how it affects your system and what you must do to prevent deadly side effects.

The brand names for oxymorphone include Opana, Numorphan, Numorphone. The street names include biscuits, blue heaven, and blues.

Oxymorphone's Length of Activity and Detectability

The half-life of oxymorphone ranges from 9 to 11 hours, meaning that half of the drug is no longer active in that time frame, but half of the dose is still active. It takes five to six half-lives for a drug to be almost fully eliminated from your system. In animal studies, it took up to five days for 90 percent of the drug's metabolites to pass through the system. It can be detected in the urine for two to four days.

A urine drug screen will test positive for opiates when you are taking oxymorphone.

How It Works

Oxymorphone acts on receptors throughout your body, including those in the brain and nervous system that respond to pain. For the medication to safely reach a consistent level, your doctor will prescribe an increasing dose or frequency over the course of a few days.

Especially during the first three days of taking oxymorphone or when dosages are changed, you need to be vigilant in reporting any signs of an overdose or difficulty breathing, signs you aren't getting enough oxygen such as blue lips and skin. Ask your doctor about the use of Naloxone (Narcan) to treat accidental overdose.

The tablets are formulated for slowly releasing the active drug so that you will have pain relief for 12 hours. But be aware that the active drug from each extended-release tablet is still at work in your system for 24 to 48 hours before it has been broken down and excreted in your urine and stool. Most of the drug has left your body after five days.

The amount of drug released by the tablets is affected by whether or not you have food in your stomach, so it's recommended to take it an hour before eating or two hours after eating.

Oxymorphone can be a habit-forming drug, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms if it is discontinued.

What to Avoid When Taking Oxymorphone

Do not drink alcohol or take any street drugs while taking oxymorphone or you risk overdosing and death. You must not use oxymorphone at the same time as benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, or you risk profound sedation, breathing suppression, coma, and death.

Before you start taking or stop taking any other medications, supplements, herbal remedies, or over-the-counter drugs, discuss them with your doctor as they may interact with the oxymorphone.

You shouldn't breastfeed while taking oxymorphone. Use while pregnant can result in neonatal withdrawal syndrome.

Avoiding an Overdose

It is important that you don't take more oxymorphone or take it more frequently than your doctor has prescribed, as that can lead to an overdose, which can be fatal. Crushing the tablets can cause the release of too much medication at once and lead to an overdose. Store your medications with care as a single dose can be fatal for a child.

Some of the symptoms of an oxymorphone overdose include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Limp or weak muscles
  • Narrowing or widening of the pupils
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Slow or stopped heartbeat
  • Blue color of skin, fingernails, lips
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on oxymorphone, call 9-1-1 immediately. First-responders should be able to revive the victim with Narcan if they are notified soon enough.

Oxymorphone Side Effects

Even without having an overdose, oxymorphone can cause side effects, therefore knowing how long the medication remains in your system is important. Some of the side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Itching
  • Fever

If any of the above side effects become severe or do not go away, you should contact your doctor or healthcare provider.

Dangerous Side Effects

Some of the side effects of oxymorphone can be serious. If you experience any of the following seek medical attention immediately:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, mouth, tongue or throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Lightheadedness when changing positions
8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Buddy T
Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.