28 Feb How Long Does Oxycontin Stay In Your System?
OxyContin is a powerful narcotic with a high potential for abuse and dependency. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, over 2 million Americans reported habitual use of prescription opioids like OxyContin in 2015. The consequences of such abuse can be disruptive, destructive, and deadly – over 20,000 people overdosed on prescription painkillers in that same year. Painkillers have been the leading form of prescription drug abuse in America for many years.
If you’ve been using OxyContin for a while – especially for non-medical purposes – you might be worried if there is OxyContin in your system, the effect it’s been having on your body, or if you’d be able to pass a drug test. After all, many companies choose to screen prospective and current employees with a urine drug test for the presence of OxyContin in their system. If your test comes back positive and you don’t have a valid reason to be taking the drug, this could spell trouble for your career – and the rest of your life.
But how long does it take for OxyContin to clear your system? The short answer is: it depends. For a more detailed explanation, let’s take a look at the way OxyContin can affect your body, including the many factors that influence how long it can stay in your system. Then, we’ll examine the best way to approach detox, and find out how you can kick the OxyContin habit for good.
What is OxyContin?
OxyContin was originally designed as a strong, long-lasting painkiller for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses that cause chronic pain, such as cancer or arthritis. Its main ingredient is oxycodone, a potent opioid similar to morphine. Oxycodone works by intercepting the pain messages your body sends to your brain, and is generally only prescribed to treat severe pain, where non-narcotic medications have failed in the past.
What differentiates OxyContin from other forms of prescription opioids, such as Vicodin or Percocet, is that a single pill contains a high dose of oxycodone – usually anywhere from 10 to 80 milligrams – and is encapsulated in a special timed-release formula. When swallowed whole, a single extended-release tablet provides sustained pain relief for up to 12 hours. This means fewer pills to take and longer periods of comfort for those who suffer from chronic, non-malignant pain.
But when taken for non-medical reasons, OxyContin can ruin lives. The problem is, oxycodone is highly addictive. It provides a feeling of euphoria, similar to the sensation supplied by opiates like heroin. And because a single OxyContin pill contains extremely high levels of oxycodone, it’s an attractive option for drug users who are seeking a quick high – lots of drug in a little package.
To achieve an even faster fix, users often crush the pill up, snort it, chew it, or even inject it right into their veins. But destroying the pill in this way also destroys the timed-release formula – so instead of receiving small amounts of oxycodone extended-release over a set number of hours, a huge dose of it hits the bloodstream all at once, producing an intense high. As users keep coming back for more, their tolerance to the drug increases – meaning they need to take more oxycodone to achieve the same euphoric effect. Repeated abuse can eventually lead to physical and psychological dependence – and even worse, it can lead to death.
How Does Oxycodone Affect Your Body?
The feelings of euphoria provided by an oxycodone high are fleeting and insignificant when compared to the devastating toll it can take on your body. From short-term discomfort to irreversible organ damage, here are a few of the unwanted side effects oxycodone abuse can bring.
- Stomach Problems. Oxycodone can cause a host of gastrointestinal complications, including nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain, cramping, and severe and prolonged constipation.
- Trouble Breathing. Abuse of oxycontin can suppress your respiratory system, causing your breaths to become slow and shallow. Combined with low blood pressure, this can deprive your brain and other vital organs of oxygen, putting your life at risk.
- Psychological Damage. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abusing oxycodone can permanently affect your ability to make decisions, regulate your behavior, and respond to stress. It can also cause long-term hallucinations, depression, or anxiety.
- Organ Failure. Long-term studies have drawn a link between extended oxycodone abuse and kidney and liver failure. Brain damage can also occur due to a lack of oxygen, leading to long-term neurological conditions.
- Overdose. Using more oxycodone than your body can handle leads to a loss of consciousness, coma, and in some cases, death.
How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?
Oxycodone remains in your system long after the high wears off – not just in terms of lasting physical dependency and psychological effects, but also in terms of the chemicals that are detectable in your urine, blood, and hair. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, traces of the drug stay in your blood for about 24 hours, in your urine for about three to four days, and in your hair for up to three months.
However, these are just rough estimates. In reality, there are several factors that can influence how long oxycodone will be detectable in your system. Some points to consider are:
- The size of your body. Since fatty tissues store chemicals like oxycodone for extended periods of time, it may take longer for people with a high fat content to rid themselves of the drug than leaner individuals.
- Your metabolism. If you have a fast metabolism, that means you process foods, beverages, and drugs at a rapid rate – which means you’ll also flush them from your system relatively quickly.
- The amount you’ve taken. The more oxycodone you ingest, the longer it takes to work through your system. And since frequent users tend to have a higher tolerance for the drug, they’re likely to take higher doses.
Signs of Oxycodone Addiction
If you’re concerned about the amount of OxyContin you have in your system, you might be dealing with a prescription drug dependency. To help you assess your situation, check out some of the common signs and symptoms of OxyContin addiction.
- Taking more OxyContin than you’ve been prescribed.
- Using OxyContin that you haven’t been prescribed.
- Taking OxyContin solely to get high.
- Having to increase your dosage to feel the same effect.
- Feeling a strong desire or need to take OxyContin when you’re not using.
- Neglecting responsibilities in other areas of your life, such as work or school.
- Deteriorating relationships with friends and family.
- Health issues stemming from repeated OxyContin use.
- Getting in legal or financial trouble as a result of your OxyContin use.
- Branching out into illicit drugs, like heroin.
Many abusers of oxycodone eventually graduate to using heroin, which is often said to be a cheaper substitute for prescription pain pills. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of young people who use heroin report that they got their start by taking prescription opioids, like OxyContin. So if you’re concerned that you might be suffering from an addiction to OxyContin, it’s important to seek help before your habits escalate.
While quitting cold turkey may seem like an effective method of cleaning your system out as quickly as possible, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, an abrupt end to prolonged OxyContin abuse can be dangerous, and possibly deadly, if not properly managed.
After you stop taking oxycodone, your body needs time to recover from the long period of abuse. While you’re recovering, you may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms known as withdrawal. The length and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary based on a number of factors – the amount of OxyContin you regularly took, the method of ingestion, and the length of time you’ve been using the drug.
Some of the possible physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Anxiety, irritability, and restlessness.
- Intense shaking and shivering.
- Severe sweats.
- Muscle aches and cramps.
- Cold or flu symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, and fever.
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Increased heartbeat and high blood pressure.
Depending on your physiology and habits, these symptoms may start as soon as four hours after the last dose of OxyContin was taken, and can last up to two weeks long.
During this withdrawal period, the risk of overdosing on oxycodone increases significantly. While your body’s tolerance for the drug diminishes rather quickly, your cravings remain at the same level as before. So if you experience a relapse while you’re in withdrawal, you’re in danger of ingesting more than your body can handle – causing a potentially deadly overdose.
How to Detox Properly
Having a closely monitored, medically supervised detox period in an oxycontin addiction treatment center is crucial to avoiding painful and potentially life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal. Doctors can provide physical and psychological support while your body learns to overcome a long-term dependence on the pain reliever. At the same time, they can design a schedule and recovery plan around your own individual needs.
There are several ways to safely detox from OxyContin and kick your opiod addiction. One method that is strongly recommended is to taper off the dosage, as opposed to giving it up all at once. This allows your body time to slowly get used to living without the physical dependency, and can reduce serious side effects of withdrawal.
Another way to safely get OxyContin out of your system is to take detox medications. These can help increase your comfort, decrease your pain, reduce cravings, and get your body back in a healthy balance – but they should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional. Medications that are often used for OxyContin detox are:
- Methadone. This is one of the most popular medications used for severe OxyContin addictions. Taken once a day, it can help to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, inhibiting relapse.
- Buprenorphine. Used to block the effects of opioids on your brain, this can shorten the duration of your detox period and lessen the discomfort experienced during withdrawal.
- Clonidine. This works to address some of the acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as congestion, runny nose, fevers, chills, and sweats. It can also help lower anxious feelings associated with oxycodone withdrawal.
Your doctor can work with you to determine the best detox medication to use, given your specific symptoms and physical situation.
While outpatient detox is available, for long-term OxyContin abuse, it’s best to consider being in an inpatient detox facility. An inpatient experience removes environmental stresses and pressures during the detox process, and provides safe, supervised surroundings to help ease you into a world without OxyContin. There’s also round–the-clock assistance from medical personnel, who can give you immediate care when you need it the most. Without distractions, you can focus all your efforts on recovering and living a life free of prescription drug dependency.
Detox Is Just the First Step
While it’s extremely important to go through a medically supervised method of detox, it is merely the first step in a longer road toward addiction recovery. The amount of time you spend in detox can vary anywhere from five to fourteen days, but once you’ve successfully cleared the OxyContin from your system, you’ll need to learn how to live your life without it. And the best way to do that is to attend a longer rehabilitation program. The most effective oxycontin addiction treatment centers offer therapy, counseling, and education to give you the tools and strategies you need to stay clean and sober.
Georgia Drug Detox Can Help You Overcome Your OxyContin Addiction
A good detox program doesn’t just rid your system of toxic substances, it sets you up for a lifetime of sobriety. At Georgia Drug Detox, we pride ourselves on helping our patients lay a strong foundation for a long-lasting recovery. With both inpatient and outpatient programs, we’re here to support you through the challenging period of OxyContin withdrawal, monitor your progress, and get you to a state of stability and balance. We accept most insurance carriers, and offer flexible payment plans for those who are self-paying.
It’s time to get OxyContin out of your system forever – and Georgia Drug Detox can help you do it safely.