How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

What Is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a prescription painkiller which is usually given to patients who need relief from severe pain. These causes of pain can vary, but it is largely used to treat post-surgery pain or chronic pain caused by cancer. It is listed as a Schedule II substance in the United States.

Historically, it has been a major substance of abuse. Its highly addictive properties stem from it being a derivative of the same poppy plant that is used to produce heroin. Despite this, it is one the most prescribed pain medications in the United States by the medical community and according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse almost two million Americans misuse opiates such as oxycodone.

When other over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin or ibuprofen are not considered strong enough to be able to provide pain relief medical professionals can recommend prescription oxycodone. This is despite the fact that taking oxycodone carries a significant number of risks which can emerge both as possibly fatal physical afflictions and as mental health disorders. Between 1999 and 2020 an estimated 263,000 people died from overdoses of prescription opioids such as oxycodone, and this number continues to go up at an accelerated rate. An overdose of oxycodone can cause:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion
  • Clammy skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Possible death

Oxycodone and Other Prescription Opioids

Oxycodone refers to one of a variety of opioid drugs which have a long history of abuse within the United States of America, as the psychoactive effects they produce have led to people using them for recreational purposes. Oxycodone, as with other opiates, acts on the pleasure centers of the brain. These opiates include drugs such as morphine and fentanyl. They are also generally referred to as narcotics and are what we may call a central nervous system depressant. By this term we mean that opioids attach to certain proteins called opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain or other parts of the body. In doing so they block any pain signals which are sent to the brain, which is why they are so often prescribed as an effective method to relieve severe pain.

They are often used as part of an effective pain management plan, as long as their use stays within the limits of professional medical advice. A licensed medical professional will have extensive training in using oxycodone as a method of pain relief. The two most common brand names are OxyNorm and OxyContin, and they come in three main forms:

  • Capsules
  • Slow-release tablets
  • Liquid

Capsules and liquid forms of oxycodone are examples of immediate release formulations, and are useful for short-term pain management such as after serious injury or surgery. Slow-release tablets, as the name would suggest, cause oxycodone to be gradually released into the body over a period of either twelve or twenty-four hours and are very useful for those who suffer from chronic pain. The onset of effects depends on which form a person ingests it, but usually they begin in as little as thirty minutes.

The form it is ingested also has an impact on their duration due to how they affect the half life of oxycodone. The half life of oxycodone is a measure of how long it takes for half the drug to be eliminated by the body. Liquid and capsule forms are a form of immediate release oxycodone and have an average half life of 3.2 hours, whereas slow-release tablets, which are a form of controlled release formulations, can have a longer half life of up to and above 4.5 hours. It takes several half lives for the body to eliminate it completely after an individual’s last dose.

The recommended prescribed dose varies from person to person. Doctors usually start their patients on a low dose and slowly increase the dose until their pain is sufficiently relieved. This dosage is also dependent on whether a person has taken some form of opiate medication before. All forms of oxycodone produce a wide-ranging set of physiological side-effects such as:

  • Sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation
  • Papillary constriction
  • Cough suppression
  • Nausea
  • Physical dependence

One of the main risks associated with oxycodone use, as well as other opiates, is that those who abuse it are also likely to abuse other drugs simultaneously, especially younger adults. It is especially dangerous to consume alcohol when using oxycodone. This is due to the possible drug interactions that may arise, which although may feel pleasant in the moment, can prove to be fatal or emerge as a serious mental health disorder. As with other opioids, both short-term and long-term use can result in physical and mental dependence and lead to a wide range of withdrawal symptoms.

Risk Factors With Oxycodone Use

Oxycodone use is not for everyone, even when individuals suffer from serious post-surgery pain or chronic pain from other legitimate ailments. In individuals who are taking oxycodone, their liver and kidney health are important considerations to take into account.

It has been noted that individuals with liver problems have a higher risk of adverse effects due to its importance in the bodily process to metabolize oxycodone. Likewise, individuals with kidney problems have a higher risk of experiencing side-effects, but oxycodone is still considered a safer option than some other opiates.

Are There Withdrawal Symptoms?

Someone who has an oxycodone addiction can find it very difficult to quit. This because a physical dependence means that the body needs time to recover from the effects of opiates. This recovery process is what produces withdrawal symptoms. This is made worse by the fact that a person develops a tolerance to oxycodone over time, and their body will start to require more and more in order to function appropriately.

In every case, the withdrawal process is an unpleasant one. It manifests in a variety of ways, some of which are reminiscent to a serious flu and include symptoms such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoria
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea

The possibility of severe withdrawal symptoms can be alleviated by decreasing the dose slowly rather than stopping abruptly, especially for individuals who are on a high dosage.

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your Body?

As with other opiates, oxycodone is primarily metabolized in the liver before entering the blood stream. Metabolism refers to the process by which opiates are broken down and removed from the body. Long oxycodone use will often result in a buildup of the drug in their fatty tissues, thereby lowering the speed at which they metabolize oxycodone. This is due to their solubility in body fats. Therefore they can be slowly released into the body over time, which makes oxycodone stay present longer in the body. The speed of this metabolic process varies from person to person, and depends on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • How long you’ve been taking oxycodone
  • Liver health
  • Kidney function
  • Weight and mass

There are also methods which can be utilized to clear opiates such as oxycodone out of your system more rapidly such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Urinating frequently

You should keep in mind that long oxycodone use renders these methods much more ineffective due to their buildup in fatty tissues. Extended use therefore makes it more difficult for individuals to clear oxycodone rapidly from their bodies.

What Drug Screenings Can Detect Oxycodone?

There are a variety of drug testing methods that can be used to detect oxycodone in your system. A drug test can be requested for a variety of different reasons, including by employers. Failing such a drug screening can have a significant impact on the opportunities of people who have developed an oxycodone addiction as a means to relieve pain or those who use it recreationally.

While oxycodone usually is removed from the blood in as little as twenty-four hours, there are a variety of other drug tests which can be used to detect oxycodone outside of blood plasma concentrations. Therefore blood tests are usually only effective for individuals who have very recently used oxycodone, and are therefore considered one of the least useful drug tests for detecting opiates as blood concentrations quickly decrease after the last dose. You can detect opiates in your system for a varying amount of time depending on what type of test is utilized.

Urine Test

Many opioid tests involve submitting a urine sample for analysis. In this case, individuals will be made to urinate into a collection container, sometimes under the supervision of another person. With urine tests, a positive result can usually be assured if the individual has taken oxycodone within the last four days.

Hair Follicle Test

Hair tests involve submitting a hair follicle for analysis, which is then analyzed for one or more drugs. Hair follicle tests are usually more effective than other drug tests as they can trace drug use going back at least ninety days.

Saliva Test

Saliva tests involve a person using a swab to collect saliva from your mouth, leaving it there for a few minutes. An individual will usually test positive if they have taken oxycodone within the last four days.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

The Ebb Tide Drug Treatment Center understands that addiction is a disease, one which can cause severe psychological and physical complications. That is why we provide the highest level of service at our treatment facilities, where clients who suffer from substance use disorders can recover in a comfortable and effective manner at our waterfront locations in Florida. We ensure that inpatients have access to other productive activities such as yoga or kayaking to promote a safe and sustainable environment for individuals to be the best they can be.

At our treatment centers, inpatients have access to the highest level of care provided by trained professionals certified in the use of treatment practices specifically tailored for individuals such as:

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

At Ebb Tide Drug Treatment Center we believe that a commitment to treat substance abuse disorders also includes a commitment to provide a nourishing environment for an individual to heal and grow. That is why we are always just a call or email away. Contact us if you are ready to start our shared journey.

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