After surgery to repair the blown disk in his neck, doctors sent Mike home with an opioid prescription to relieve his pain. At first, not only was Mike happy that the Oxycodone took the pain away, but he also liked how the medications made him feel.
But as pain from the injury failed to slow down, Mike couldn’t take the Oxycodone fast enough. Before he knew it, he was bouncing around looking for more pills, from doctor to doctor, many of whom were unaware of their overlapping prescriptions. That’s when Mike’s addiction to Oxycodone took over, and his life began to crumble.
What is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a narcotic prescribed to relieve moderate to severe pain that cannot be treated by over-the-counter medications. A semi-synthetic, the medication is derived from a chemical found in opium. Taken orally, the opioid acts on the central nervous system to treat both long- and short-term pain.
Oxycodone is most associated with treating chronic headaches and back pain and patients recovering from surgery. Cancer patients also take Oxycodone, as well as adults or children who suffer serious injuries in falls, sports, or automobile accidents.
Oxycodone side effects might include:
- Mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
- Flushed skin
Taking too much Oxycodone can result in an overdose. Left untreated, oxycodone overdose can be life-threatening. Signs of overdose may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Narrow or wide pupils
- Muscle weakness
- Cold or clammy-feeling skin
Because Oxycodone can be highly addictive, the medication should not be used to treat temporary pain or prescribed to take “as needed.” When taken for extended periods, Oxycodone can become mentally or physically habit-forming. Physical dependence to Oxycodone can lead to severe side effects when the medication is either reduced in dosage or stopped abruptly.
What is Oxycodone Withdrawal?
Oxycodone acts on the central nervous system, attaching to receptors in the brain to release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is responsible for communicating feelings of pleasure or pain. Elevated levels of dopamine can produce euphoria, aggression, and intense sexual feelings.
However, when these thresholds that the brain has become conditioned to are not satisfied, the body reacts. The response, typically when the dosage of Oxycodone is either reduced or eliminated, is called withdrawal. Taking more Oxycodone to prevent the awful symptoms associated with withdrawal is a warning sign of addiction.
The chance of Oxycodone addiction increases as the individual becomes more tolerant to the medication over extended periods or needs an increased dosage to relieve pain.
What are Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms?
When an individual abruptly stops taking Oxycodone or reduces the medication’s dosage, withdrawal symptoms are highly likely; usually 6-12 hours after the last consumption. Similar to other opioids, these symptoms may vary in severity depending on the dosage and duration of dependence. Common symptoms of Oxycodone withdrawal include:
- Restlessness or irritability
- Increased muscle aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Sweating or fevers
- Elevated heart rate
- Dramatic changes in blood pressure
- Hallucinations or seizures
[anchor-heaidng id=”stages” heading=”What are the Stages of the Oxycodone Withdrawal Timeline?”]
Oxycodone withdrawal, like any other opioid, can be downright awful. When an individual begins to experience symptoms, withdrawal can be extremely frightening as well. That’s why knowing what to expect during the process can alleviate some of the mental anguish associated with it while preventing potentially dangerous health complications.
Although Oxycodone withdrawal is not considered life-threatening, any decision to stop taking Oxycodone should involve tapering off the medication. A sudden stoppage without professional medical oversight can result in severe side effects that could trigger relapse and a return to using. Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of withdrawal, when they can be expected and how long they may persist can be advantageous toward recovery.
Any timeline for Oxycodone withdrawal will depend on the individual’s biological makeup, means of ingestion, dosage, and length of dependency. Symptoms can be grouped into three stages of withdrawal.
Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can emerge within four to six hours after the last dose; however, the effects of the medication may linger for 12-24 hours. During this period, an individual will experience flu-like symptoms into the second day of withdrawal.
Post-acute withdrawal including mood swings, anxiety, disturbed sleep, lack of focus, and low enthusiasm levels will manifest in the second day, intensify, and peak 72 hours into the process. After three days, the most severe side effects will begin to dissipate.
Although most physical suffering will be gone after a week, some of the more intense psychological symptoms, including difficulty sleeping and anxiety, may linger up to 14 days. This can be particularly problematic in preventing relapse and a return to using.
Treatment for Oxycodone Withdrawal
Doctors may prescribe medications, including buprenorphine, clonidine, Suboxone, and methadone, to provide some comfort during the withdrawal process. The problem is these drugs — referred to as medication-assisted treatments – are also opioids, which means they can present some of the same threats to addiction as Oxycodone.
Lofexidine, sold under the brand name Lucemyra, among others, is the first FDA-approved medication targeted to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms specifically. Up until now, the non-opioid medication has been typically used to treat high blood pressure.
Why Should I Detox?
Oxycodone withdrawal can feel like death, but dependence on this opioid is treatable. Sadly, many healthcare providers are either not equipped or uninformed about treating individuals who are suffering through the ugly discomforts of Oxycodone withdrawal.
The good news is that a professionally monitored detoxification in a residential treatment facility can provide a safe and effective withdrawal to begin the process of recovery.
Here, in a peaceful and comfortable detox setting, a doctor can wean individuals off Oxycodone and prescribe medications to alleviate discomfort associated with withdrawal.
In the meantime, other certified healthcare staff can monitor vital signs to prevent any unnecessary complications. For patients who are addicted to a combination of chemical substances and alcohol, detox is highly recommended.
What is the Next Treatment Step?
Your decision to detox from Oxycodone and rid yourself of dependence is likely the smartest choice you’ve ever made. But, what you do in the days following detox will determine the likelihood of a return to that living hell called addiction. Your sustained recovery will take time. Again, the choice is yours.
Any real sobriety will often require a stay at a residential treatment center. Here you will be provided with personalized tools such as group and individual therapy, relapse prevention techniques, and individualized treatment strategies. Residential treatment is highly recommended to prevent relapse.