Oxycodone Withdrawal: What to Expect

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If you suddenly stop using oxycodone after using it for some time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. This is true whether you have been taking it as prescribed by your doctor, or misusing it.

Withdrawal is also known as detox or detoxification. It happens when a person quits or cuts back on their use of alcohol or other drugs. Physical or psychological dependence on the drug, or both, might have developed over time.

Physical dependence happens when you’ve taken the drug for a while and your body has begun to rely on it to feel normal. Your body has gotten used to functioning with the drug in your system, so if it isn’t taken, withdrawal symptoms will start.

Psychological dependence occurs when you start to believe that you need the drug to be able to function. Or you may think that you need it for certain situations like socializing at a party or using it to unwind after work. On the other hand, it could be that you believe you need it all the time.

Drug withdrawal symptoms may be mild or severe depending on:

  • How long you’ve been using the drug
  • What drug it is
  • Your age
  • Your physical condition
  • Your psychological characteristics
  • The method of withdrawal

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone hydrochloride is in a group of drugs known as opioids and this includes any drugs that act on the opioid receptors in the brain. Opioids also include any natural or synthetic drugs that come from, or are related to, the opium poppy. The group of drugs known as opiates is naturally derived from the opium poppy instead of synthetic substances.

The most commonly prescribed opioid is oxycodone, which is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. However, there has been increasing concern about the risks of prescribing these drugs, especially when they’re used for a long time. Oxycodone comes in a variety of strengths and in several forms, including capsules, tablets, liquid, and suppositories. Common brand names are Oxynorm, OxyContin, Endone, Targin, and Proladone.

What is Oxycodone Used For?

Oxycodone is broadly used to relieve moderate to severe ongoing pain. It is used in the management of cancer-related and chronic pain. Oxycodone is also used as an alternative to morphine and is considered superior to morphine in the treatment of some pain conditions.

How Does Oxycodone Work?

Opioids, like oxycodone, work by attaching to the receptors on the nerve cells in your brain, spinal cord, and other places. This blocks pain messages that your body is sending to your brain. This, in turn, triggers your brain to release dopamine, a chemical associated with reward and feeling good.

Prescription opioids like oxycodone are generally safe to use for a short time, as instructed by your doctor. If you need to stop after taking opioids long-term, you need to be supervised by a medical team. This is usually done by taking less of the drug slowly over time.

What are Some Effects of Oxycodone?

The use of any drug always carries some risk–there is no safe level of drug use. Even medications can cause unwanted side effects. So, it’s always important to be careful when taking any type of drug and to follow the directions on the prescription. While oxycodone affects everyone differently, you may experience some or all of these effects:

  • Pain relief
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Fatigue
  • Problems concentrating and general confusion
  • Euphoria or a negative mood
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle stiffening
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and stomach ache
  • Problems urinating
  • Slowed pulse rate
  • Excess flushing, sweating, and itching
  • Mild allergic rash or hives

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oxycodone withdrawal treatment

What are the Long-Term Effects of Oxycodone Use?

Long-term regular use of oxycodone may cause:

  • Dental problems
  • Mood swings
  • Lowered sex drive and a decreased testosterone level in males and menstrual problems in females
  • Needing to use more to get the same effect as initially (tolerance)
  • Financial, work, and social problems
  • Use of oxycodone with other drugs

What Are Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal?

Stopping the use of oxycodone after a long time is difficult because your body has to get used to functioning without it. Whether you have been taking it as a prescription for pain relief, or purely for the intoxicating effect, it’s important to get help from a health professional when you try to quit.

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms may differ from person to person depending on the type of oxycodone taken. The most difficult symptoms usually last about a week and may include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Sleep problems and extreme restlessness
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Muscle spasms and tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Uncontrollable kicking movements

oxycodone withdrawal symptomsSerious side effects include:

  • Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing during sleep)
  • Seizure
  • Fainting
  • Severe drowsiness or difficulty waking up

Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline

Seventy-two hours after the final dose of oxycodone is the hardest part of detox. When you get through this, you have made it through the tough part. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Restlessness

Oxycodone Overdose

Taking a large amount of oxycodone can cause an overdose. Call 911 immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms:

  • Small pupils
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Decreased awareness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • No muscle tone or movement
  • Extreme drowsiness and loss of consciousness
  • Slow or irregular heartbeat

What is Detox?

Detox is the first step toward recovery if you’re addicted to alcohol, or legal, and illegal drugs. It is also called detoxification or withdrawal treatment and is the process of clearing the drugs, or toxins, from your body. There are two ways to detox: tapering and cold turkey. In both cases, you may be able to pair either method with prescription medicine meant to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering vs. Cold Turkey

Most addiction specialists caution against the cold turkey approach. Suddenly stopping some substances can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Tapering or weaning off the drug is preferred for some and other substances need a prescription treatment. Drugs that can be dangerous to stop cold turkey are: Individuals who are heavily addicted to any of the above substances and try to stop cold turkey may experience uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Without medical supervision, many people end up relapsing, or worse, before completing withdrawal.
oxycodone withdrawal timeline

What is the Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal?

Because it is so difficult to give up opioids safely, most people need to get the help of medical professionals to quit. To help get you through withdrawal successfully you may be given:

  • Methadone or buprenorphine to make your symptoms easier to handle and help with the cravings. You will be weaned off these drugs over time until you no longer need them.
  • Drugs to settle your stomach if you have diarrhea and vomiting. You’ll also be given appropriate fluids to replace the water your body is losing and prevent dehydration.
  • Drugs to control your blood pressure if it is elevated due to withdrawal.
  • Over-the-counter drugs to help with headaches and joint pain.

Complications

Although opioid withdrawal isn’t normally life-threatening, serious problems can occur if you have other health conditions. For instance:

  • a raised pulse rate or blood pressure can cause problems if you have a heart condition,
  • the risk of bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid in pregnant women,
  • vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, high blood sodium levels, and heart failure, and
  • you have a higher risk of overdosing on an opioid after withdrawal due to your lower tolerance

Experienced, Caring, Professionals at Magnolia City Detox

At Magnolia City, we are experienced in helping people from all walks of life detox from many types of drugs and alcohol. A safe, professionally supervised detox with medical monitoring is your best bet for getting off on the right foot. This way you are physically prepared to tackle the emotional work of continuing on the path to long-lasting recovery in a residential or outpatient program.

We know that nobody ever started out to be addicted to oxycodone or any other drug. You can get help for addiction if you just reach out for help. Contact us today by phone or email. We are happy to answer any questions you have. It’s the most important thing you can do for yourself or a loved one.

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