Every year in the United States, around 43 out of 100 people receive a prescription for opioids. When taken as prescribed, opioids like oxycodone can provide pain relief while accelerating the healing process. Unfortunately, this medication also has the potential for misuse, especially when purchased or used illicitly. It’s because of this that Tennessee has seen over 3,000 opioid-related deaths in the last year. At ReVIDA Recovery®, our goal is to drastically reduce those numbers through education, outreach, and treatment.
It isn’t easy to live with something like opioid use disorder (OUD.) You know it isn’t good for you and you want to stop, but the withdrawals can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. Let’s take a look at what happens when you reduce your dosage of oxycodone or quit using it altogether, and whether or not it’s safe to do it alone.
What is Oxycodone Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is what your body experiences when you either stop taking oxycodone or drastically reduce your dosage. All opioids flood the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in things like pleasure, motivation, mood, and even memory. If you’ve been taking opioids for a long time, your brain gets used to that flood of dopamine. When you stop, your brain experiences dopamine deficiency, and this is where withdrawals come from.
Withdrawals are unpleasant. Many who would love to stop their opioid use but feel like they can’t because of how uncomfortable they become. Here are some of the common physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawals:
- Panic attacks
- Increased heart rate or blood pressure
The symptoms sound overwhelming, but people don’t usually experience them all at once. The severity of these symptoms also varies from person to person. But these symptoms often play a part in why some people feel like they can’t quit oxycodone or can’t heal from OUD.
How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Withdrawal symptoms typically start within 24 hours of the last dose. For some people, symptoms hit at the 8-hour mark, and for others, they don’t appear at all. Each person’s physiology is unique, which means their symptoms are unique. Things that might influence how long withdrawals last would be whether or not someone is otherwise healthy, if they’re using other drugs or alcohol, if they’re in treatment, how long they’ve been taking oxycodone, how much oxycodone they’ve been taking, etc. Let’s take a look at the timeline for oxycodone withdrawal symptoms:
6 hours – 3 days after the last dose: This is typically when symptoms will start. It might begin with a simple craving for oxycodone and escalate into tremors, irritability, headaches, or muscle aches. Fatigue also becomes apparent at this stage. If someone has been using oxycodone for a long time, their symptoms may be worse during this stage. They may experience insomnia, sweating, or muscle cramping.
3 days after the last dose: This is when the physical symptoms will start to subside. Sleep might be easier, the appetite might return, and tremors begin to steady. Unfortunately, it’s also when emotions start to intensify. Because opioids provide a feeling of euphoria or well-being, anxiety and depression might start to surface. The body is trying to regain a sense of mental normalcy, but in the meantime, it’s struggling to find a hormonal balance. This is usually when things like panic attacks or self-harming behaviors start to surface. Detoxification from the drug is finally coming to a close, but the brain doesn’t quite understand that yet.
1 week+ after the last dose: The mind and body occasionally still believe they need oxycodone for pain relief or relaxation. This is also when the battle begins to create a life free from opioids. This phase can feel isolating. This is the time for creating healthy support systems, discovering coping mechanisms, and working on the traumas and emotions that led you to opioid use in the first place.
Are Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms Dangerous?
This is a common question, and the answer isn’t always black and white. It’s rare for withdrawal symptoms to kill someone. They can lead to complications like tachycardia or mental health distress (like suicidality or self-harm), but with treatment, they’re manageable.
Mainly, oxycodone or any other opioid withdrawals are incredibly uncomfortable and distressing. They leave many incapacitated or unable to work/take care of their families. Dehydration occurs frequently during the withdrawal phase, as well. Great care should be taken to prevent any complications stemming from these symptoms.
One of the biggest risks of discontinuing opioid use without the help of a doctor is the possibility of an overdose. If someone is uncomfortable enough during the withdrawals, they’ll usually turn back to oxycodone. When someone has gone days or weeks without taking opioids, their body doesn’t have the same tolerance for them. They may take the dose they were used to before, but it’s likely too much for their body now. This can cause an oxycodone overdose, which is dangerous and frequently fatal.
Treatment is always recommended if someone is coming off of medication like this. Not only because of the physical discomfort but also to steady the mind. In treatment, medications can be given that work to prevent relapse and cravings. When someone chooses addiction treatment, they’re setting themselves up for a successful recovery. They’ll also be monitored for any possible complications that can occur from this process.
Addiction treatment works to help people heal from the inside out. It works to target both the mind and body during the recovery process. It’s common for people to return to opioids after they’ve stopped taking them. It’s even common if they’ve been drug-free for months or years. A careful foundation should be set during the vulnerable period of withdrawal. Treatment gives people the opportunity to build that foundation.
What’s Addiction Treatment Like at ReVIDA Recovery®?
If you or someone you love has fallen victim to the nationwide opioid epidemic, you’re not alone. Finding yourself caught in the manipulative cycle of a substance use disorder doesn’t mean your life is over. Far from it. People recover and go on to lead happy, healthy lives after addiction treatment. We can help you reclaim your life with the following treatment options:
Structured Outpatient Treatment
The ReVIDA® Outpatient program is a flexible and structured treatment. Our evidence-based scientific treatment includes individual and group therapy, education classes, and 12-step meetings. Also, we help connect you to resources and community partners who have joined together to assist your extended support team during treatment.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Discontinuing opioid use is one of the most difficult challenges you will experience. Choosing a MAT program means choosing support. We’ll work to decrease any withdrawal symptoms and make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Our MAT program is supervised by physicians, licensed therapists, certified counselors, care coordinators, and peer recovery specialists to oversee your progress and health – every step of the way.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) Treatment
Our medically supervised Suboxone® Program helps quiet the mind and prepare your body for treatment and support for long-term opiate addiction. Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is one of the most effective and proven therapies to reduce the cravings for opioids. Unlike Methadone, this treatment can be prescribed in a doctor’s office and permits our staff to prepare you for the more important work of one-on-one therapy and strategies for daily recovery.
Counseling and Group Therapy
We believe that providing individual and group therapy is a critical component of assisting patients as they navigate the road to long-term recovery. From the moment you begin oxycodone addiction treatment, you will discover that we offer a safe and supportive place to talk and learn the necessary skills that will support long-term recovery and a healthy lifestyle. Our behavioral healthcare team is composed of licensed therapists, certified counselors, care coordinators, and peer recovery specialists who are ready to guide and support you all along the way.
To learn more about treatment for substance use disorders at ReVIDA Recovery®, call us today at 423-631-0432 so we can help you reclaim your life!
FAQs About Oxycodone Withdrawals
What is oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid and narcotic used to treat severe pain when over-the-counter medications are ineffective.
How common is oxycodone addiction?
Opioid dependence is extremely common. Currently, 70,000 people are struggling with opioid addiction in Tennessee alone.
How long do oxycodone withdrawals last?
Physical symptoms of oxycodone withdrawals last anywhere from 6 hours to 1 week after the last dose. Mental distress following an opioid addiction can last for months, especially if left untreated.
Can opioid withdrawals kill you?
It’s rare for oxycodone withdrawals to kill someone. Withdrawals can lead to concerning complications, so it’s always a good idea to seek treatment.