Are you one of the millions of people who received an opioid prescription this year? Are you curious about the medication and wondering how it’s going to affect your body? If so, you’re in the right place. At ReVIDA® Recovery, our team of experts is highly knowledgeable in all things oxycodone.
Before taking any opioids, it’s important to be aware that they come with a high risk for physical dependence. Approximately 70,000 people in Tennessee are managing an addiction to opioids. To avoid this, make sure you’re following your physician’s directions and being open about any oxycodone side effects. Today, let’s talk about how oxycodone works and how long it stays in your system.
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Oxycodone Metabolism and Half-Life: Why They Matter
In order to understand how oxycodone (or any medication) works, it’s important to understand the definition of a half-life. A half-life is the time it takes for half of the medication to leave your body. Oxycodone has a half-life of around 6 hours. This means if you take a dose of oxycodone at 12 p.m., half of that dose is no longer present in your body by 6 p.m. After 12 hours, oxycodone can no longer be detected in a blood test, but it can still be detected in other types of tests.
Like most medications, oxycodone is processed through the liver. This means that the health of your liver is going to play a role in how quickly oxycodone is metabolized. This also means that dosage matters – the body will take longer to metabolize medication if someone has taken a large dose.
How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?
Oxycodone (Oxycontin®) is an opioid that’s prescribed for both acute and chronic pain. The amount of time it stays in the body varies from person to person. When opioids are prescribed, they’re usually taken in pill form. There are immediate-release and extended-release tablets.
Immediate-release tablets are eliminated from the body more quickly than extended-release tabs. The effects of these can be felt as quickly as 10 minutes after the first dose, and they usually peak within 2 hours.
Extended-release tablets are typically prescribed for those who are managing chronic pain, or pain that doesn’t go away after an injury heals. They take 2-4 hours to “kick in”, but once they do, they can be effective for days. Because they’re designed to provide steady pain relief, their effects usually peak between 15-30 hours.
There’s often a misconception that oxycodone has left your system when you can’t “feel” it anymore, and that’s not true. It’s also false that this medication is completely out of your body after its half-life has doubled. The reality is that traces of oxycodone can still be detected for up to 3 months after your last dose.
Oxycodone Withdrawal and Overdose
In 2022, over 107,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in the United States, and the majority of those deaths were caused by opioids. This is a very real danger when it comes to oxycodone use, and it’s easier to overdose than you think. An oxycodone overdose can happen if:
- You’re taking more of the medication than ordered by your doctor
- You’re mixing oxycodone with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines
- You’re injecting or snorting oxycodone
- You’re taking other medications alongside oxycodone that you haven’t talked to your doctor about
- You’re getting oxycodone through a street dealer instead of a pharmacy
- You’re taking oxycodone laced with fentanyl
Anyone taking this medication should be aware of the risks, including the risk of physical dependence. Any time an opioid is taken, dopamine (a chemical messenger in the brain) is released, which causes an increase in pleasure. Over time, this changes the reward pathways in the brain. Things that used to be pleasurable, like eating or sex, no longer feel the same. The brain accepts opioids as the source of happiness and well-being, and nothing really compares to that anymore. This loss of pleasure in natural rewards can cause addiction – people think the only way to feel good is to take more oxycodone. It takes a significant period away from oxycodone to experience pleasure naturally again.
Withdrawal is also another driving factor for addiction. When the brain gets used to a steady stream of dopamine, it goes through a process of dopamine deficiency and withdrawal when someone tries to taper or stop taking it. It often feels like the only way to feel better is by taking more of the medication. Oxycodone Withdrawal can start as soon as 6 hours after your last dose of oxycodone, and some of the symptoms include:
- Runny nose
More serious symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Gastrointestinal distress (diarrhea, vomiting)
- High blood pressure
Withdrawal can be managed and relief can be found at a treatment center like ReVIDA® Recovery, and symptom severity starts to decrease after about a week.
How Long Will Oxycodone Show Up on a Drug Test?
There are a few tests that clinicians will use to determine whether or not you’ve been taking oxycodone. The detection time varies from test to test.
How Long Will Oxycodone Show Up on a Urine Test?
A standard urine drug test doesn’t usually test for the presence of oxycodone. If your clinician or employer is concerned about opioid use, they can request testing. Oxycodone can show up on a urine test for up to 3 days, though that timeline could increase if your liver isn’t healthy.
How Long Will Oxycodone Show Up on a Blood Test?
The longest oxycodone can be detected in the blood is 24 hours, but it’s typically only trusted at 15 minutes -12 hours past your last dose.
How Long Will Oxycodone Show Up on a Saliva Test?
Saliva can detect oxycodone in your system within minutes of your last dose and up to 4 days afterward.
How Long Will Oxycodone Show Up on a Hair Test?
Your hair follicles will store oxycodone indicators for months after your last dose. A standard hair test detects oxycodone for up to 30 days, while others can detect oxycodone for up to 90 days.
What Factors Affect How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your System?
In some circumstances, oxycodone may “stick around” longer than expected. Here are some of the things that impact how long oxycodone stays in your system or how quickly it leaves:
- Liver health. An unhealthy liver isn’t going to process medications correctly. If your liver (or kidney) health is questionable, it may take longer for your body to metabolize oxycodone.
- Weight. If someone is overweight, oxycodone can store itself in excess fat cells for longer-than-normal periods.
- Additional substances. If oxycodone is taken alongside alcohol or other substances, it may stay in the body longer.
- Dosages. A larger dose of oxycodone is going to take longer to pass through the liver and metabolize.
- The type of tablet or form it’s in. Immediate-release tablets will leave the body faster than extended-relief tablets. Crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting this medication can also have an impact on how long it stays in the system.
- Age. Seniors often take longer to metabolize medications.
Treatment for Oxycodone Use Disorder
At ReVIDA® Recovery, we have seen firsthand how effective, evidence-based treatment can be in eliminating opioid use disorder (OUD). It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been taking oxycodone or how impossible it feels to stop right now – recovery is always possible. Let’s talk about some of the treatment options we offer here that could be right for you.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
While you’re here for MAT, you’ll be closely monitored by a compassionate and knowledgeable staff. Medications are available that can help in alleviating withdrawal symptoms and guiding you safely into recovery. You’ll also have access to resources that can help you on your journey moving forward, including individual counseling, group counseling, and support groups. In an MAT program, we use medications alongside traditional therapy to guide you away from opioids and into a healthy life of recovery.
You’ll also have the option to move forward with our outpatient treatment program. If a higher level of care is warranted, we will provide referrals for a local inpatient or residential treatment program. Your clinician will go over all of your options to set you up for success.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is a safe and evidence-based way to treat OUD. At ReVIDA® Recovery, we support the use of buprenorphine (Suboxone®) because it has been proven to reduce cravings while working to prevent relapse. In order to receive buprenorphine (Suboxone®) treatment, you will have to be opioid-free for 24 hours.
Outpatient Rehab Services
We believe that both individual and group therapy are critical components in the treatment of Oxycodone addiction – especially if you’re looking for long-term recovery. This is a safe and supportive space where you will learn how to manage your triggers and create healthy coping mechanisms. Our behavioral healthcare team is composed of licensed therapists, certified counselors, care coordinators, and peer recovery specialists who are standing by and ready to help. If we can treat your addiction where it started, at its roots, your chance of recovery is greater than if we were to simply treat your withdrawal symptoms.
At ReVIDA® Recovery, we’re standing by to help you reclaim your life from oxycodone. Recovery is possible, and you can start your journey to wellness whenever you’re ready. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call us today at 423-631-0432.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is oxycodone used for?
Oxycodone is typically prescribed for acute or chronic pain management.
What factors affect the detection time of oxycodone?
Liver health, weight, age, dosages, and the form oxycodone is consumed in (extended-release, immediate-release, oral solution, injection, etc.) all influence the detection time of oxycodone.