Oxycontin Withdrawal Symptoms

oxycontin bottle on shelf

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Oxycontin withdrawal describes a wide range of symptoms that can occur after a person stops or dramatically reduces the medication after heavy or prolonged use. Withdrawal from Oxycontin is similar to withdrawal symptoms experienced with any opiate-based drugs such as heroin, morphine, Dilaudid, methadone, and codeine.


Any opiate-based drug can cause physical dependence or addiction. If Oxycontin is taken over a lengthy period of time, you can build up a tolerance to it, meaning that greater amounts of the drug are needed to produce the same effect.

If you have developed a dependence on Oxycontin and you try to stop or cut back on the amount you take, your body needs time to adjust and recover, and withdrawal symptoms can result.

Who's at Risk

Anyone who has taken Oxycontin over a period of time, usually several weeks or more, can experience these symptoms. It varies with the individual and can happen upon quitting or cutting down. This includes patients who have taken Oxycontin as prescribed to treat pain while recovering from surgery or an injury.


Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on how much and how long you have taken the drug. Some people who have only used the drug therapeutically may not even realize that they are experiencing withdrawal; many users report thinking that they just have the flu.

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin six to 30 hours after the last use of the drug.

Early Symptoms

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Later Symptoms

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Potential Dangers

Withdrawal from Oxycontin use can be very uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening. However, there are complications that can occur, which do pose a danger.

Aspiration can occur if you vomit and breathe in stomach contents into the lungs, which can cause lung infection or choking. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and chemical and mineral disturbances in your body.

The biggest danger, however, happens if you quit taking Oxycontin and decide to begin taking the drug again.

Because the withdrawal process reduces your tolerance for the drug, you can overdose on a much smaller dose than you usually took. Therefore, most overdose deaths occur in people who have recently withdrawn or detoxed from Oxycontin start taking it again and think they can tolerate the same amount they used to take.

Treatment of Symptoms

If you are planning to quit using Oxycontin after heavy or prolonged use, don't try to do it on your own. At the very least, make sure someone else is around to support and keep an eye on you as you withdraw.

Contact your healthcare providers and let them know that you plan to detox from Oxycontin. They will explore and recommend one of a few different regimens used for detoxification, which can include the use of Clonidine to reduce anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping.

They can also give you other medications for vomiting and diarrhea.

Withdrawal Period

The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms will vary from individual to individual. The most uncomfortable symptoms should subside within a few days to a week. However, if you find that your symptoms last longer than seven days, you should seek medical attention.

If you find that you cannot quit using Oxycontin in spite of your best intentions to do so, you may need to seek a professional treatment program to help you with your dependence.

Long-Term Treatment 

Many people who detox from Oxycontin find that they need long-term treatment following withdrawal to stay off the drug. This can include support groups, pharmaceutical treatment, outpatient counseling, or intensive outpatient treatment and even inpatient treatment programs.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

4 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.
  1. World Health Organization. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009.

  2. Garland EL, Froeliger B, Zeidan F, Partin K, Howard MO. The downward spiral of chronic pain, prescription opioid misuse, and addiction: cognitive, affective, and neuropsychopharmacologic pathwaysNeurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(10 Pt 2):2597–2607. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.08.006

  3. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Washington DC; 2013.

  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription Opioids.

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.