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Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline—Vicodin Withdrawal

Oxycodone is an opioid medication prescribed by doctors as a pain reliever.1 In various trade and brand-name formulations, oxycodone is intended for oral use. However, as a commonly diverted drug, oxycodone tablets can be misused not only by swallowing, but after the tablets are crushed and snorted, or injected after dissolving the pills in liquid solution.1,2

Oxycodone binds to opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain, but this receptor interaction may also be associated with a rewarding euphoric effect, which can reinforce continued use of the drug.1,2 Significant oxycodone dependance can develop with repeated use, at which point withdrawal may be experienced when such use stops.1 When oxycodone use ceases, withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as a few hours after it was last taken.1 Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can include muscle or bone pain, sleep disturbance, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, goosebumps, uncontrollable muscle movements, and severe cravings for oxycodone.1

Because it can be so unpleasant and sometimes lead to withdrawal complications, trying to cope with opioid withdrawal without medical management is seldom recommended.3 Professional detox with medications for opioid withdrawal management allows a treatment team to monitor people and keep them as safe and comfortable as possible during this difficult time.

In this article, we will discuss withdrawal symptoms from oxycodone, a general oxycodone withdrawal timeline, and how to seek help in the form of oxycodone addiction treatment.


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Oxycodone Dependence and Withdrawal

Oxycodone dependence can develop after repeated use, at which point people may feel unable to function normally without the presence of the drug.1,4 When an individual becomes physically dependent on oxycodone, they may be at risk of experiencing a characteristic set of opioid withdrawal symptoms if drug use is reduced or stopped.1,4 In these cases, people who are dependent on oxycodone may benefit from medical support in the form of a drug detox program to help them stop using oxycodone safely.


What Happens During Oxycodone Withdrawal?

During withdrawal from oxycodone, several symptoms may arise. As a relatively short-acting opioid, after opioid dependence has developed, oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can begin within several hours after the drug was last used.1,4

Without previous experience or understanding of how severely unpleasant withdrawal from oxycodone may be, it may be tempting to try and quit cold turkey. However, quitting cold turkey without medical withdrawal management can be significantly unpleasant, as withdrawal symptoms increase in severity over the course of several days prior to subsiding.1,3 The unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are why many people find it so hard to stop. Supervised medical withdrawal management can help to mitigate symptom severity and progression and can allow for treatment of any withdrawal complications, should they arise.3 For these reasons, many clinicians recommend against attempting to quit cold turkey or detox at home.3


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Oxycodone Withdrawal?

Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms may range in severity but can be extremely uncomfortable. Though more rare, in some instances of unmanaged opioid withdrawal, people may experience certain withdrawal complications, such as dehydration and/or cardiovascular stress.1,3 Opioid withdrawal is different for everyone, and it can be hard to predict how your body will react in withdrawal without a medical professional’s guidance.

While withdrawal is different for everyone, some common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms and signs include:1,3

  • Muscle pain or bone pain.
  • Sleep disturbance (insomnia).
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Cold flashes and goosebumps, sometimes also called “goose flesh” or “cold turkey.”
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Increased respiratory rate.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Hyperthermia (high body temperature).
  • Sweating.
  • Anxiety.

Many of the common symptoms of withdrawal from oxycodone can be described as “flu-like symptoms,” and these symptoms are typically uncomfortable but are not life-threatening.3

While detoxing from oxycodone doesn’t typically pose a danger, it may be uncomfortable and detoxing under medical care can help manage any discomfort or anxiety you experience.


How Long Does Oxycodone Withdrawal Last?

The oxycodone withdrawal timeline is different for everyone, dependent on factors like how much, how often, and how long you have been using, as well as which specific oxycodone formulation you have been using (i.e., extended release vs. immediate release formulations). The length of time and the symptoms you experience in oxycodone withdrawal can also be influenced by your state of health, addiction severity, the magnitude of physiological dependence, any co-occurring medical or mental health diagnoses, or use of other substances as well.

While there is some variability, the onset of withdrawal symptoms for relatively short-acting opioids like oxycodone may be as soon as 8-24 hours after last use and symptoms last between 4 and 10 days before symptoms largely resolve.5 The onset of withdrawal in cases of extended-release oxycodone use may be slightly delayed, accordingly.6 Peak withdrawal symptoms tend to occur 5-7 days after the last use of opioids, before they begin to subside.6

In the beginning, a sudden increase in certain types of nervous system activity can result in intense withdrawal symptoms—this phase is called acute opioid withdrawal.6 During this initial oxycodone withdrawal phase, you may experience flu-like symptoms, as well as cravings to use oxycodone. Within a few days after your last dose of oxycodone, you may continue to experience a similar set of symptoms as in the initial phase, as well as sleep disturbance, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.6


Getting Help of Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms

It may be challenging to detox from oxycodone without medical withdrawal management. In addition to the physical symptoms that may be hard to manage, it may be difficult for some individuals to detox at home without a strong foundation of support and with drug triggers around.

Many people struggling with opioid addiction benefit from the support and care provided by a professional drug detox program. With medical detox and withdrawal management, people may be better able to control their discomfort as well as have any other medical issues addressed, should they arise.


Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Prescription opioids drugfacts.
  2. Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020). Drug fact sheet: oxycodone.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Treatment Improvement Protocol—TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition): Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?
  5. World Health Organization. (2009). Withdrawal management. Manila, Philippines: WHO Western Pacific Region.
  6. Pergolizzi, J. V., Annabi, H., Gharibo, C., & LeQuang, J. A. (2019). The role of lofexidine in management of opioid withdrawal. Pain and Therapy (8), 67–78.

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