Oxycontin, also known as oxycodone, is a prescription opioid medication. It is used to manage ongoing, severe pain.
When used properly, the drug is effective. But there is a high risk for addiction. This is partly due to its long-term use for pain. Using the drug for any reason not based on medical advice puts users at risk for a variety of dangerous side effects and addiction.
Like most drugs, Oxycontin remains in your body for a significant period after your last dose of the drug. For example:
Oxycontin remains in your urine for up to four days.
Oxycontin remains in your hair for up to 90 days.
Oxycontin remains in your blood for up to 24 hours.
Oxycontin remains in your saliva for up to 48 hours.
These are estimates for how long it takes for the drug to move through your system. The actual time it takes for your body to remove the drug varies from person to person based on a variety of factors (read below).
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Several things play a role in how long Oxycontin stays in your body. For example:
According to Oxycontin’s manufacturer, the drug affects older people over 65 years of age more than younger adults. This indicates that it remains in your system longer when you’re older.
Women have higher blood concentrations of Oxycontin than men. Researchers are not sure why this is the case.
Your liver is responsible for metabolizing the drugs that enter your system. In the case of Oxycontin, someone with mild to moderate liver impairment experiences peak Oxycontin blood concentrations about 20% to 50% higher than people with a healthy liver.
The kidneys also affect how long Oxycontin remains in your system. Like those with an unhealthy liver, people with kidney dysfunction take longer to metabolize the drug.
In addition to the factors listed above, the following also affect how long it takes for Oxycontin to clear your system:
Whether or not someone uses immediate- or time-release Oxycontin also plays a role in how quickly the drug begins to take effect and how it affects the body.
For example, crushing and snorting the controlled-release tablets was associated with lower and delayed peak blood plasma levels. While blood plasma levels may be lower, the delayed effect may mean that the substance is detectable in the body for a longer period.
Whether or not a person uses Oxycontin according to a doctor’s recommendation also affects how long the drug is detectable in their system. The windows of detection listed above are based on someone using the drug as directed.
Misusing Oxycontin, especially when you snort, crush, or inject the drug, affects how long it remains in your system. Misuse of the drug also affects how long it takes to work. Many people crush and/or snort Oxycontin because it works faster.
Most people feel the effects of Oxycontin within 20 to 30 minutes after taking it. It reaches peak concentration within two hours. There are also extended and controlled-release versions of the drug, which take up to four hours to reach peak concentration.
Like all drugs, the effects of Oxycontin eventually wear off. It takes about four to six hours for the immediate-release version to wear off.
However, even though you no longer benefit from the effects of the drugs, it remains in your system. Your body could show evidence of using the drug for up to 90 days after your last dose.
A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes for your body to eliminate half of the drug.
The half-life of oxycodone is about 3 hours for the immediate-release formula and about 4.5 hours for other formulas after ingestion. This means it takes about 22.5 hours for the drug to be eliminated from the blood.
Even after the noticeable effects of Oxycontin wear off, it’s still possible for a drug test to detect the drug. This is because the body gradually breaks down the drug into metabolites that are detected in your blood, hair, urine, and saliva for a varying length of time.
Although the drug testing detection window varies from person to person, in general, Oxycontin is detected for up to 90 days after stopping use of the drug via hair tests in your hair follicle.
A blood test detects the drug for up to 24 hours after the last dose. Oxycodone stays in your saliva and urine for one to four days.
For the most part, there’s nothing you can do to speed up how quickly your body metabolizes Oxycontin. The only real way to avoid detection when tested for the drug is to stop taking the drug several days or weeks before taking a drug test.
However, if your doctor prescribed Oxycontin and you’re using it according to the prescription, make sure you speak to your doctor before stopping use of the drug. Oxycontin has a high risk of physical dependence. In most cases, doctors gradually taper their patients off of the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If you’ve been misusing Oxycontin, you might be able to stop using it without experiencing withdrawal if you haven’t been using it for long and/or you’ve been taking small doses.
The best thing to do once you stop using it is to follow a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and exercise daily. This won’t speed up the metabolism of the drug, but it will make it easier to feel better without using the drug.
If you experience withdrawal symptoms, and it’s difficult to stop using the drug, the best thing to do is seek medical attention. Medically supervised detox ensures you are safe during withdrawal and eases the symptoms as much as possible.
Oxycontin is a highly addictive drug. Symptoms of addiction include:
In addition to the symptoms of addiction, people misusing Oxycontin are at risk of the following side effects:
Oxy is a legal drug when used as prescribed. Doctors consider it safe, despite the risk of addiction. However, addiction is common for people who misuse the drug.
It’s important to get support if you or a loved one has an issue with drug use or Oxycontin addiction. Stopping the use of the drug “cold turkey” triggers uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Medically supervised detox at treatment centers reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and increases the likelihood of a successful recovery. Drug rehab is safer and more effective when it includes professional intervention.
Once the detoxification phase is complete, a variety of treatment approaches are effective for helping people with oxycodone addiction.
Addiction treatment options on an inpatient or outpatient basis include:
You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.
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Scharper, Julie. “Administered for Pain, Drugs like OxyContin Have Taken a Massive Toll.” The Hub, 7 Sept. 2016, https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2016/fall/opioid-addiction-pain-management/.
“Opioid Addiction and Treatment Overdose, Treatment, Prescribing, Pregnancy, Neonatal, Recovery, Data/Trends/Statistics.” www.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/opiate-addiction-and-human-health.html.
“Know the Signs and Get Help for Opioid Addiction | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center.” www.cdc.gov, 21 Dec. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pubs/featured-topics/treatment-recovery.html.
Butanis, Benjamin. “Treating Opioid Addiction.” Hopkinsmedicine.org, 2 Aug. 2018, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/opioids/treating-opioid-addiction.html.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1 Nov. 2016, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/effective-treatments-opioid-addiction.