As a powerful prescription opioid, oxycodone provides effective pain relief but this is where its benefits end. Considering the high abuse and addiction risk that comes with taking oxycodone, it’s best to stop taking it as soon as possible. So how long does oxycodone stay in your system when you stop taking it? Knowing what factors affect how your body metabolizes this drug can give you an idea of how long it will take. The reasons why you were using it will also play a part in how easy or difficult oxycodone detox will be.
Oxycodone Effects on the Body
Oxycodone acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, slowing down the chemical processes that allow the CNS to function. Dopamine, serotonin, and other endorphin chemicals help regulate the many processes that make up the CNS. As the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, endorphins are released when injuries. They also play critical roles in regulating your emotions and thinking.
Opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract release these chemicals as the body needs them. Oxycodone’s pain-relieving properties stem from its ability to force the body’s opioid receptors to secrete massive amounts of endorphins. When this happens, pain symptoms not only disappear but you experience feelings of euphoria and calm. Unfortunately, with oxycodone detox, you’ll likely experience the exact opposite of this process as the drug leaves your system.
The Oxycodone Metabolism Process
Detox from oxycodone is a process that only moves as slow or fast as your body metabolizes the drug. The body uses enzymes and other organs involved in digestion to metabolize drugs. In effect, metabolism entails breaking down the drug with enzymes, sending it to other organs to break it down even further, and then expelling waste materials from the body.
When taken orally, oxycodone is metabolized in the stomach and liver. From there, it enters the bloodstream. When snorted or injected, the drug goes directly into the bloodstream, which makes for a faster metabolism process, overall.
During metabolism, oxycodone is broken down into oxymorphone, which is a metabolite or a stripped-down version of oxycodone. Since oxymorphone also belongs to the opioid family, the body will continue to experience opioid effects. So, how long does oxycodone stay in your system once it’s metabolized? That depends on where you look for it. Talk to a Intake Coordinator
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Oxycodone Half-Life Factors
A drug’s half-life offers another way to determine how long oxycodone stays in your system. Half-life describes the time it takes for half of the amount of a dosage amount to leave your body. Since different parts of the metabolism process metabolize oxycodone at different rates, half-life times can vary depending on where you test for it, such as in the blood, in the urine, and in the hair.
Here are the different half-life rates based on the testing method:
- Blood – On average, the blood concentration of oxycodone decreases by half within four to seven hours. After 24 hours, almost all of the drug has left the bloodstream.
- Urine – Oxycodone can stay in the urine for as long as two to four days after taking your last dose. This time can vary depending on the amount of water you drink within that time frame.
- Hair – Oxycodone can remain on the ends of the hair for months or years after you stop using it. However, if testing is done on the root of the hair, the drug may only be detected for weeks or months after your last dose.
Other Things That Affect How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your System
Oxycodone comes in different forms and different formulations. It can be mixed with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin to deliver varied effects. There’s also an extended-release formulation called OxyContin. While there’s little difference between the mixtures of oxycodone, OxyContin’s extended-release mechanism allows the drug to stay in your system longer than other forms of oxycodone.
Other factors that affect how long the oxycodone detox process lasts include:
- Body fat content
- Your age
- Your height and weight
- Liver and kidney health
- How often you use oxycodone
- Usual dosage amount that is taken
- How long you’ve been on the drug
- Your body’s overall water content
Warning: Beware of Oxycodone Withdrawal Effects
How long does oxycodone stay in your system when you’re addicted vs when you’re only physically dependent? Physical dependence and addiction differ in significant ways that have more to do with ongoing effects than how long a drug stays in your system. Most everyone who undergoes oxycodone detox will experience some degree of withdrawal effects. With physical dependence, physical withdrawal may be uncomfortable but that’s about as bad as it will get.
For someone who’s come to depend on oxycodone to cope and takes it compulsively, the damaging effects of the drug on brain function persist long after drug use stops. In like manner, oxycodone withdrawal symptoms will likely be excruciating to the point where maintaining abstinence becomes extremely difficult. These conditions make it easy to give and start taking the drug again.
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When to Consider Getting Detox Treatment Help
Oxycodone’s ability to interact with the brain’s chemical processes poses serious risks, making it difficult to get off this drug. Most opioid-based drugs should only be used on a short-term basis for this exact reason. With frequent use, oxycodone gradually changes the way your brain works to the point where normal brain function becomes impaired. Not only that, but these changes cause your brain and body to become dependent on the drug’s effects.
If you’re having problems stopping oxycodone use or have already tried to with no success, it may be time to consider getting treatment help. Detox from oxycodone can be difficult under the best of circumstances so if addiction is an issue, there’s a definite need for some level of treatment support. Oxycodone detox programs provide the medical care and emotional support you need to stop taking this drug. They also equip you with coping strategies for managing drug cravings while helping you create a drug-free lifestyle.
- cesar.umd.ed – University of Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research, “Oxycodone”
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – StatPearls, “Half-Life”
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “Opioid Metabolism”
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