Addiction Coping and Recovery Oxycodone Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment By Corinne O’Keefe Osborn Corinne O’Keefe Osborn LinkedIn Corinne Osborn is an award-winning health and wellness journalist with a background in substance abuse, sexual health, and psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 23, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Withdrawal From Oxycodone Signs and Symptoms Coping and Relief Warnings Long-Term Treatment Resources Oxycodone is a short-acting, semi-synthetic opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is prescribed for both acute pain (after surgery or injury) and chronic pain (from disease or damage). Oxycodone is the narcotic component of several common combination drugs, including Percocet and Percodan. Oxycodone is also the active ingredient in Oxycontin, an extended-release version of the drug. Taking oxycodone for more than a few weeks causes tolerance and dependence, regardless of whether or not you are using it as directed. Whether you’ve been using oxycodone for pain or abusing it to get high, you can expect withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal From Oxycodone Oxycodone withdrawal is different for everyone and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Your withdrawal experience will depend on a variety of factors, including your current dose and how long you’ve been using opioids. Your withdrawal experience will also be impacted by the way in which you use opioids. People with an opioid use disorder (addiction) typically have a harder time detoxing. Opioid addiction is different from opioid dependence because it involves intense cravings and drug use that interferes with daily life. Oxycodone is a highly addictive drug, however, so it is not uncommon for a physical dependence to escalate into a full-blown addiction. In recent years, prescription drug abuse has become more common across all age groups and demographics. In 2015, while only 591,000 people were abusing heroin, 2 million were struggling with an addiction to prescription opioids. If you’ve never experienced opioid withdrawal before, then you’re probably worried about what to expect. Is it as bad as it looks on TV? It depends. Without treatment, opioid withdrawal can be both uncomfortable and unpleasant, but you can rest assured that it is rarely dangerous. Your withdrawal experience will begin within 8 to 24 hours of your last dose. You can expect stomach and muscle cramps, diarrhea, sweating, chills, and insomnia, among other symptoms. Symptoms typically peak within a few days and then begin to resolve. The whole process rarely lasts longer than one week. Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms The signs and symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal can vary from person to person. Most people experience flu-like symptoms, but the severity of symptoms exists on a continuum. If you would like to get a better idea of the range of withdrawal symptoms, you can take a look at the diagnostic scale clinicians use, the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS). The most common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms are: muscle aches and painflu-like feelingsweatingrunny nosechillsnausea or vomitingcramping or diarrhea insomnia or disturbed sleepteary eyestremorsanxiety or restlessness goosefleshheart poundingagitationskin-crawling Symptoms generally appear within 8 to 24 hours of your last dose. If you’ve been abusing oxycodone by crushing it up to bypass the extended-release mechanism, then your withdrawal symptoms will come on quicker. If you’ve been using your medication as directed, on a regular schedule, then your withdrawal symptoms may be slower to appear (especially if you’re taking extended-release tablets). Depending on your situation, your withdrawal experience may also be marked by the return of pain. Extended opioid use temporarily decreases your pain threshold, which means that your pain may feel worse than it did before you used opioids. Pain can complicate withdrawal, so you should work with your doctor to develop a plan to handle it. The acute (immediate) symptoms of oxycodone withdrawal typically peak around day three and then begin to subside. Acute symptoms rarely last longer than 5 to 7 days. There is, however, another condition known as protracted (long-term) opioid withdrawal, which can last up to six months. Protracted withdrawal symptoms are much less severe, but they can be very frustrating and often lead to relapse. In the months following your last dose, you may experience: depressionlow energy levels a low tolerance for stress (short fuse) trouble sleepingthe inability to experience pleasure from anything problems with memory or concentrationirritability or agitation These symptoms typically come and go in waves, which adds to the frustration of recovery. The important thing to remember is that they are only temporary. Coping and Relief Any clinician will tell you that medications such as clonidine can help you get through oxycodone withdrawal. Going through opioid detox without medical support causes needless suffering, so you’re going to need to reach out for help. There are several ways you can go about this. You might find help from: an addiction treatment centera community health clinicyour primary care physiciana psychiatrist a methadone clinica doctor certified to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone) There are several medications that can help prevent withdrawal symptoms and treat any symptoms that do develop. The first group is opioids like oxycodone, but when they’re used properly, they don’t get you high. Methadone. Methadone is a long-acting opioid that must be taken once per day to prevent withdrawal symptoms. When used correctly, it prevents withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings without causing euphoria or sedation. Unfortunately, it is only available at certified clinics, which you typically must attend daily. Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is also a long-acting opioid that can prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms. It is most often found in combination with naloxone, an opioid antagonist sold under the trade name of Suboxone. Many doctors are certified to prescribe Suboxone for people to use at home. Suboxone is useful once some withdrawal symptoms have begun.Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride). Lucemyra is a brand-new, non-opioid medication that is FDA approved to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. Because it contains no opioids, any doctor can prescribe it for at-home use. It can take some time for your body to adjust to a stable dose of methadone or buprenorphine. During that time, you may experience mild withdrawal symptoms. The American Society for Addiction Medicine recommends the following medications to treat break-through withdrawal symptoms: Clonidine: a hypertension drug regularly used off-label to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. It is available as a pill or a transdermal patch. Loperamide: to treat diarrhea. Ondansetron: to treat nausea and vomiting. Benzodiazepines: to treat short-term anxiety. OTC pain relievers: (Tylenol or Advil) to treat muscle aches and pains. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may want to consider (with a doctor’s approval) an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl. If you are allergic to antihistamines or prefer something else, you should talk to your doctor about prescription sleep aids. Warnings Opioid withdrawal is rarely dangerous for healthy adults, but it can be extremely uncomfortable without detox medications. While it is safe to detox at home, many people benefit from inpatient detox facilities where they receive 24-hour medical care. Inpatient detox facilities are a great way to get through withdrawal in a safe, trigger-free environment, but they can be prohibitively expensive. If you have insurance, call and ask what type of addiction treatment they cover and how long that coverage lasts. Inpatient treatment is a great option for people struggling with opioid use disorder. Detox is the first step in addiction treatment and it is an important one, but the key to long-term sobriety is long-term relapse prevention. Detox facilities can help you transition into something more long-term. Without continued addiction treatment, people that go through detox typically relapse within a year or two. Because relapse is so common after detox, it is important to be aware of how quickly your tolerance level can change. Your pre-detox dose can cause an overdose after detox. Talk to your doctor about getting a Narcan kit that you can keep on hand in case of emergency (Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose). Inpatient or specialty outpatient treatment is also a great option if you are pregnant. Oxycodone withdrawal can cause pregnancy complications, including miscarriage and premature birth. This means that it is particularly important for you to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, methadone is proven safeand effective for use during pregnancy. Long-Term Treatment The main goal of long-term treatment is to prevent people with opioid use disorder from relapsing. Long-term addiction treatment involves a multi-pronged approach that includes medical, social, and therapeutic support. Your medical approach may include a long-term maintenance dose of methadone or Suboxone or you might want to stop using opioids entirely. Naltrexone is a non-opioid medication that you can take to prevent relapse in the long-term. It is an opioid antagonist, which means that it prevents opioids from getting you high. It is now available as a once-per-month injection or a daily pill. Naltrexone is an excellent safe guard against impulsive relapse. Research shows that adding psychotherapy to medication increases your chance of maintaining long-term sobriety. Individual and group therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including addiction treatment programs, community clinics, hospitals, and private practices. Finally, social support is the third leg of relapse prevention. Knowing you’re not alone is important. And a shared commitment to sobriety helps a lot of people stay strong. Most people find long-term support at local 12-step meetings, which are free and convenient. Resources To find a doctor near you who is certified to prescribe buprenorphine, check out this searchable directory. To find a doctor or therapist who specializes in opioid use disorders, you can use this searchable directory from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or call SAMHSA’s national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. To learn more about Narcotics Anonymous (NA) check out their website. You can find a meeting near you with their searchable directory. A Word From Verywell Oxycodone withdrawal doesn’t have to be torture. With the right detox support, you should be able to get through it with minimal discomfort. It can be difficult to plan your detox ahead of time, so get help. When you’re in a good place, ask someone you trust to help you get and keep an appointment with a doctor. Treatment for Opioid Addiction 16 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. National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts. Prescription opioids. Turner CC, Fogger SA, Frazier SL. Opioid use disorder: Challenges during acute hospitalization. J Nurse Pract. 2018;14(2). American Society of Addiction Medicine. Opioid addiction. 2016 Facts & Figures. Pergolizzi JV, Raffa RB, Rosenblatt MH. Opioid withdrawal symptoms, a consequence of chronic opioid use and opioid use disorder: Current understanding and approaches to management. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2020;00:1-12. doi:10.1111/jcpt.13114 Wesson DR, Ling W. The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS). J Psychoactive Drugs. 2003;35(2):253–259. doi:10.1080/02791072.2003.10400007 Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. Rivat C, Ballantyne J. The dark side of opioids in pain management: basic science explains clinical observation. Pain Rep. 2016;1(2):e570. doi:10.1097/PR9.0000000000000570 American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG Committee Opinion. Opioid use disorder in pregnancy. Amato L, Davoli M, Minozzi S, Ferroni E, Ali R, Ferri M. Methadone at tapered doses for the management of opioid withdrawal. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;2013(2):CD003409. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003409.pub4 Gowing L, Ali R, White JM, Mbewe D. Buprenorphine for managing opioid withdrawal. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;2(2):CD002025. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002025.pub5 Kampman K, Jarvis M. American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. J Addict Med. 2015;9(5):358–367. doi:10.1097/ADM.0000000000000166 Theisen-Toupal J, Ronan MV, Moore A, Rosenthal ES. Inpatient Management of Opioid Use Disorder: A Review for Hospitalists. J Hosp Med. 2017;12(5):369–374. doi:10.12788/jhm.2731 Chalana H, Kundal T, Gupta V, Malhari AS. Predictors of Relapse after Inpatient Opioid Detoxification during 1-Year Follow-Up. J Addict. 2016;2016:7620860. doi:10.1155/2016/7620860 Shaw LV, Moe J, Purssell R, et al. Naloxone interventions in opioid overdoses: a systematic review protocol. Syst Rev. 2019;8(1):138. doi:10.1186/s13643-019-1048-y Ndegwa S, Pant S, Pohar S, et al. Injectable Extended-Release Naltrexone to Treat Opioid Use Disorder. In: CADTH Issues in Emerging Health Technologies. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2016. Amato L, Minozzi S, Davoli M, Vecchi S. Psychosocial and pharmacological treatments versus pharmacological treatments for opioid detoxification. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(9):CD005031. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005031.pub4 Additional Reading Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves the first non-opioid treatment for management of opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults. National Institute on Drug Abuse and Addiction. Treating Opioid Use Disorder During Pregnancy. By Corinne O’Keefe Osborn Corinne Osborn is an award-winning health and wellness journalist with a background in substance abuse, sexual health, and psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? 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