Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opium taken to elevate moderate to severe pain. Nevertheless, it’s highly addictive and often abused in immediate and controlled-release forms. OxyContin is chemically slightly different as it contains extended-release Oxycodone. However, the two names are usually used interchangeably.

OxyContin use is commonly prescribed after surgeries and during the recovery from serious injuries for pain medication. But even then, there’s a risk of addiction and abuse.

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Patients can get addicted to it, where it no longer delivers pain relief. This abuse causes brain damage that leads to bone pain, muscle pain, restlessness, and insomnia. Users usually grind the pills to inject or snort them for a more substantial effect.

This article explains the steps needed for OxyContin detox and the challenges users face during their journey.

Understanding OxyContin

When it was first made in 1916, Oxycodone was available as a generic medication and listed as an essential drug by the World Health Organization. OxyContin was later developed in 1996 as a central nervous system suppressant, usually used for pain relief.

The 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg tablets were reported to improve the quality of life of cancer patients when used to manage pain. A 100 mg tablet was developed in 2000.

After proving successful at treating chronic pain, the drug’s strength and potency became why people started abusing it. Abusers resorted to crushing the pills and snorting or injecting them to overcome the extended-release feature and benefit from instant relief.

According to government statistics, OxyContin is highly abused among high school students. Long-term use of this drug leads to respiratory failure, often resulting in death. Users are also subject to other health issues like HIV and Hepatitis C.

Respiratory depression and arrest are the main risks of OxyContin abuse. It can also lead to hypotension and circulatory depression, which can be fatal when not managed properly.

What is Detox?

A detox or detoxification is the process of getting rid of the effect of OxyContin and removing it from your system so you’re no longer physically dependent and become drug-free. This process is best done gradually and under the supervision of healthcare providers to avoid a relapse.

Many people use the terms detox and rehabilitation interchangeably, but they’re actually different. Detox focuses on the physical dependence of the drug and aims at eliminating physical addiction symptoms. Rehabilitation, on the other hand, focuses on psychological dependence and involves addressing the reasons that might have pushed someone to abuse OxyContin in the first place.

Why Is Detox Essential for OxyContin Abusers?

Even if a physician prescribes it, the long-term use of OxyContin or drug use can lead to substance abuse, resulting in addiction and other substance use disorders. The brain adapts to the drug’s presence in the bloodstream, and the neurotransmitters act accordingly.

When not taken, users simply can’t function. They start experiencing physical and psychological pain that becomes paralyzing unless higher drug doses are administered.

OxyContin causes high dopamine release and blocks the dopamine receptors in the brain. As a result, abusers can experience Parkinson’s- like symptoms. They can also experience depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts.

Signs and Symptoms of OxyContin Withdrawal

Quitting OxyContin can be a daunting and, at best, uncomfortable experience for abusers, depending on how long they’ve taken the drug. They can experience many uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms that often force them into relapse unless a doctor guides them.

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms usually start two to four days after the last dose of OxyContin, and they increase gradually. Some users experience these symptoms only eight to 12 hours after the last dose if they’ve been taking higher doses of the drug.

These symptoms usually peak at 72 to 96 hours and then gradually subside after two weeks. They include the following.

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dilated pupil
  • Yawning
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Overall fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Coughing
  • Severe body aches

Psychological Symptoms

Psychological symptoms go hand in hand with the physical ones. In some cases, patients can experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS that can last for up to 24 months. Yet, they usually slowly subside, and patients learn to cope with them with the help of medications and advice from specialists. They include the following.

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Agitation
  • Poor concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Insomnia
  • Poor sleep
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

The Timeline of OxyContin Withdrawl

The severity and duration of the opioid withdrawal symptoms depend on several factors.

  • How long the patient has been using the drug.
  • How they consumed the drug by swallowing a pill, eating, snorting, or injecting it.
  • The frequency and amount of OxyContin taken every time.
  • If they mixed OxyContin with alcohol.
  • If they mixed OxyContin with other drugs.
  • The patient’s mental and physical health.

Most patients go through this withdrawal timeline when they stop taking OxyContin.

Days 1 and 2Symptoms can begin several hours after taking OxyContin.They include excessive sweating, teary eyes, runny nose, muscle and joint pain, coughing, nausea, appetite loss, headaches, pupil dilation, and anxiety. There’s a high risk of relapse at this stage.
Days 3 to 5Physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain worsen. Severe cramps and shaking can happen. Psychological symptoms start.
Days 6 and 7Some physical symptoms slow down. Psychological symptoms worsen.
After Day 8While the physical symptoms tend to disappear, the psychological ones become even worse. Patients usually experience guilt and remorse for what they did while high.

Methods of Oxycontin Detox

OxyContin is metabolized in the liver, and the detox process aims at eliminating its short and long-term effects on the body. There are several detox approaches that healthcare providers and doctors follow when helping patients overcome their OxyContin addiction. Each method involves specific risks and challenges.

The doctor will consider a few factors when choosing a particular detox method. These include the severity and duration of addiction, the patient’s overall health, lifestyle, and domestic situation.

Cold Turkey

This refers to the sudden cessation of the drug instead of a gradual termination of dependence. It’s usually a quick fix, and patients practice it independently without access to medications that help ease the process.

The method gets its name from the goosebumps addicts usually experience when they suddenly stop taking OxyContin, making their skin look like turkey skin when kept in the fridge for a few days.

Although this method usually works when quitting smoking, it’s not easy when quitting OxyContin. Yet, it might be the only way to go if the patient suffers from severe and life-threatening physical and psychological side effects.

Risks and Potential Complications

Going cold turkey isn’t usually life-threatening unless the patient has other medical issues. Yet, it has several risks.

Patients can suffer from seizures and irregular heartbeats. To ease these symptoms, they might consider taking the drug again. After withdrawal, people with an addiction tend to have a lower tolerance for OxyContin, so the risk of overdose becomes higher.

Other less immediate risks include depression, emotional pain, and distress. Since most addicts go cold turkey without medical supervision, they’re usually unable to address triggers that caused them to abuse OxyContin in the first place. As a result, they remain at a higher relapse risk.

Medically-Assisted Detox

This is the most recommended detox method because patients have access to physical and psychological help to overcome their addiction safely. Patients with mild OxyContin dependence are advised to drink two or three liters of water per day to compensate for the fluids passed in urine and diarrhea. They can also be given vitamin B and C supplements.

In severe cases of OxyContin, using medications is essential. Medically-assisted detox involves administering replacement drugs, which decrease the severity of the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

  • Buprenorphine can manage moderate to severe physical symptoms and reduce cravings, decreasing the likelihood of relapse. It should be given after experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but it doesn’t work if the patient suffers from respiratory deficiency or diabetes.
  • Methadone can be used to elevate the withdrawal symptoms of OxyContin and other drugs like morphine. Administering methadone as a replacement medication is the treatment of choice for pregnant women. Still, it should be approached with caution if the person with an addiction suffers from acute alcohol dependence, respiratory deficiency, severe hepatic impairment, head injury, or Crohn’s disease.
  • Clonidine relieves many moderate physical symptoms like sweating, chills, anxiety, cramps, and vomiting. However, it can cause low blood pressure and drowsiness.
  • Codeine phosphate is used in OxyContin detox management, but it can have no effect on 2% to 10% of people with an addiction. It shouldn’t be administered if the patient has respiratory deficiency or hepatic impairment.

Benefits of Medically-Assisted Detox

Although some people go for non-medical detox, it’s not recommended. There’s a higher chance of relapse, and the side effects can be fatal.

Medically-assisted treatment detox, or MAT, doesn’t always involve administering replacement drugs, as this depends on the patient’s health and condition. While some medications can ease withdrawal, they might not be necessary.

Yet, still having medical professionals available to monitor and help patients during their withdrawal journey is a big plus. Here are some of the benefits of this detox method.

  • It ensures supervision and intervention in case of an emergency.
  • Healthcare providers can adjust the detox method based on your condition.
  • Some withdrawal side effects can be fatal, so medical professionals guarantee your safety.
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be painful, but doctors will administer pain relievers and replacement medications to make your recovery journey easier.
  • Medical-assisted detox increases your chances of recovery.
  • It reduces the risk of death and protects patients from the health and legal consequences of abusing drugs.

Potential Drawbacks of Medically-Assisted Detox

MAT is preferred by medical professionals, but it has some potential drawbacks that should be considered.

  • It requires close medical supervision, so the patient might be required to spend time at a medical facility.
  • Assisting medications can have several side effects.
  • Some medications can be misused or abused.


Tapering focuses on gradually reducing OxyContin dosage to eliminate its dependence. It’s a widely approved detox approach and can be used to wean patients off several addictive substances.

According to this method, the patient still uses the drug, but the amount is gradually decreased. This method gives the body time to adjust so the internal organs can partially recover.

Tapering can be slow or more aggressive, depending on the addict’s situation. Its duration depends on the addict’s response, and tolerance to intermittent drug dosage decreases.

How to Create a Tapering Plan with a Healthcare Provider

A doctor or another healthcare provider will assess the patient’s situation. Then, they will choose the most suitable tapering approach. Here are the guidelines to follow.

  • The doctor will provide an initial OxyContin dosage to ensure there are no withdrawal side effects. They can increase the dosage if the side effects increase.
  • After monitoring the patient’s response, the doctor will reduce the dosage by 10%. This is usually done one week after the initial dosage, but this can change depending on the patient’s situation.
  • Further dosage reductions are done one or two weeks apart.
  • With higher reductions, the intermittent decreases can be adjusted to 5%.
  • The doctor can provide nutritional support, medications, and behavioral therapy to manage physical and psychological symptoms.

Holistic and Alternative Therapies

Holistic OxyContin detox considers the patient’s body, mind, and spirit. It addresses the psychological, emotional, and spiritual issues that contribute to addiction while helping with the physical symptoms. This detox approach reduces the chances of relapse, so patients can enjoy sobriety for longer periods.

Proper nutrition, hydration, and supplements can strengthen patients while recovering. Healthcare providers can also recommend some assisting medications to manage the withdrawal side effects.

Alternative therapies like acupuncture, yoga, massage, and other non-traditional treatment programs have the following benefits.

  • They limit potential side effects.
  • They’re non-invasive and non-addictive.
  • They help patients who suffer from other health issues.
  • They help overcome psychological drug addiction side effects like lack of concentration.

Complications and Challenges

The detox journey isn’t easy, and people with an addiction often face different challenges and complications.

  • Most side effects will get worse before they get better.
  • Without proper medical care, there’s a big chance of relapse.
  • During detox, people with an addiction begin to have a lower tolerance for the drug, so they’re more prone to overdosing.
  • Some assistance medications are addictive in nature, so patients deal with polydrug usage.

Post-Detox Steps

After recovering from your OxyContin addiction, there are several steps to take to remain drug-free.

  • On-going support and therapy are essential.
  • Recovering people with an addiction should avoid people and situations associated with consuming drugs.
  • Individual and group therapy options can help you reprogram your brain’s rewarding and motivation pathways.
  • Counseling can help you find the root cause of your addiction, enabling you to deal with it.
  • Study rehabilitation programs where you can have emergency assistance when needed. There are several addiction treatment options available to suit your situation.
  • You should have a support system from family, friends, and support groups.
  • Addiction takes a toll on your body. Healthy nutrition and exercise will help you get in shape.
  • You should work on your coping mechanisms to prevent relapse. These include keeping yourself busy, attending counseling meetings, getting enough sleep, and asking for help when needed.


Prescription opioids or oxyContin addiction has severe physical and psychological side effects, and proper detox is the only way to go. Luckily, several detox treatment options might work for you, depending on the duration and severity of your addiction.

Understanding the opioid withdrawal side effects is crucial, as they get worse before they get better. Recovery is a tough journey, but it’s what you need if you or your loved one want to take control of your life. You can do your search and learn more about the dangers of abusing OxyContin and seek medical help today from the treatment center that offers substance abuse treatment for patients suffering from opioid abuse, opioid addiction, and opioid use disorder.

Please call Allure Detox today to learn more!


Published on: 2019-06-20
Updated on: 2024-06-19

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