Oxycodone Withdrawal | Symptoms, Taper, & Detoxification
Oxycodone withdrawal may cause symptoms such as runny nose, diarrhea, dilated pupils, insomnia, high blood pressure, and opioid cravings.
These symptoms can occur after a person develops a physical dependence on oxycodone and does not take the drug for an extended period of time.
Due to the habit-forming nature of oxycodone, it can be difficult to stop taking the drug without professional help.
Following a tapering schedule, or a gradual, fixed dose reduction over a long period of time, as outlined by a healthcare provider can improve the outlook of patients attempting to withdraw.
Medical detoxification can be another option for patients looking for opioid withdrawal management. Detox is the process of flushing a drug out of a person’s system. These options can be helpful for patients looking to navigate and manage their symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
If the brain is unable to operate without opioids, the body may enter withdrawal when it is deprived of oxycodone.
Withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone may include:
- excessive sweating
- runny nose
- muscle aches
- high blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- opioid cravings
The onset of these symptoms may begin several hours after the last dose, and can persist for weeks. Patients may also experience flare-ups of these symptoms for months or even years after the last dose, a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
The discomfort, cravings, and even life-threatening nature of opiate withdrawal can cause difficulties for patients attempting to quit on their own.
Tapering Off Oxycodone
A taper is a gradual, deliberate dose reduction over a long period of time. Tapering can help patients experience less severe withdrawal symptoms when compared to quitting all at once, or cold turkey.
A tapering schedule for oxycodone can vary depending on the patient’s health, risk of opioid overdose, and history of drug use. Tapering may be accompanied by professional support, supervision, and adjustment of the tapering schedule as needed.
General clinical guidelines for opioid tapering may begin with a monthly 10% dose reduction for patients who have taken oxycodone for over a year. Patients who have taken oxycodone for less than a year may benefit from a weekly 10% dose reduction.
Detoxification, or detox, is the process of flushing a substance out of the body. Opioid detox can be accompanied by withdrawal, as a person’s system learns to operate without oxycodone.
Detoxing without medical help can be dangerous, as a patient may be unable to deal with instances of severe withdrawal. They may not have the framework or support to avoid a relapse, which can also lead to opioid overdose and even death.
A medical detox program for oxycodone places patients in an environment away from potential triggers. Patients are monitored for withdrawal symptoms and health issues while participating in the program. Detox may be accompanied by a tapering schedule to further manage withdrawal.
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is an evidence-based treatment option for opioid dependence and withdrawal. Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone are opioid agonists and can block the negative effects of prescription opioids such as oxycodone.
MAT may be utilized as an opioid addiction treatment option alongside a tapering schedule or detox program.
Buprenorphine and methadone may have lower potentials for drug abuse in controlled environments. Similar to tapering, MAT may be used alongside treatment options such as support groups and counseling.
Opioid withdrawal can be a concern for patients who engage in long-term opioid use for their chronic pain, and professional treatment can help patients navigate the difficulties of opioid discontinuation.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Pocket Guide: Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/clinical_pocket_guide_tapering-a.pdf
- Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience — Pharmacologic treatments for opioid dependence: detoxification and maintenance options https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202507/
- Food and Drug Administration — 1. PACKAGE INSERT OXYCONTIN® (OXYCODONE HCl CONTROLLED-RELEASE) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/020553s060lbl.pdf
- National Library of Medicine: StatPearls — Opioid Withdrawal https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment
- World Health Organization — Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/