How Long Does It Take for Oxycodone to Work?

Start Your Addiction Recovery Today

Find Out How

Common Questions About Addiction Treatment

Check Out Our FAQ

Verify Your Insurance

Looking for effective treatment that’s also affordable? We accept most major insurance providers. Get a free insurance benefits check now.

Check Your Coverage​

Questions about treatment?

Get confidential help 24/7.
Reach out for more details about:
  • How we can help

  • Our location & programs

  • Insurance & payment options

Call 866-881-1184

When dealing with powerful opioid painkillers, a key question to know is how long they take to work. Because what you don’t want is to take too much, too soon, and risk getting addicted.

This is particularly pertinent when discussing oxycodone, a potent opioid analgesic. The timing of oxycodone’s effect can vary based on several factors, including the formulation of the drug—whether it is immediate-release or extended-release—as well as individual patient characteristics.

If you’re wondering how long does it take for oxycodone to work, this article seeks to answer that question. Read on.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a potent opioid approved by the FDA for managing acute or chronic moderate to severe pain when other medications have failed. It is available under various brand names, such as Roxicodone and OxyContin, the latter being the extended-release form.

How oxycodone works is by acting by binding to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord, altering the body’s perception of pain. While it is a valuable medicine for pain relief, especially in conditions such as cancer-related pain, oxycodone carries a high potential for addiction and is commonly abused.

Because of its high addiction potential, oxycodone is strictly regulated. In the United States, it’s classified as a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

Is Oxycodone Addictive?

Yes, oxycodone is highly addictive.

The crux of its addictive potential lies in the way it interacts with the central nervous system. Like other opioids, oxycodone binds to specific proteins. These proteins, called opioid receptors, appear on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

When oxycodone attaches to these receptors, it can produce a sense of euphoria or intense pleasure by triggering the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the reward pathways in the brain. The brain produces less dopamine naturally and quickly comes to depend on ever-increasing doses of oxycodone to feel dopamine.

This tolerance can escalate into physical dependence, where the body starts to feel a compulsion for the drug to maintain normal functioning and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Looking For Substance Abuse Treatment?

Get confidential help from our addiction treatment specialists in Orange County. Call to join our rehab program today!

Call 866-881-1184

How Long Does It Take for Oxycodone to Work?

The onset of oxycodone’s pain-relieving effects and how long it remains active in the system varies based on dosage, administration, formulation, and other factors.

Generally, when taken orally, immediate-release formulations of oxycodone begin to work within 30 to 60  minutes, with their effects peaking in about one to two hours. Effects generally wear off within 4 to 6 hours.

Extended-release forms of the drug release oxycodone slowly over a longer period, which means they take longer to start working but maintain pain relief for extended periods. It takes slow-release oxycodone anywhere from one to two days to take effect.

Mode of Ingestion 

The route of administration is a critical factor that influences how quickly oxycodone takes effect. Oral tablets or liquids must pass through the digestive system before the active drug is absorbed into the bloodstream, whereas other forms, such as intravenous injections, deliver the drug directly into circulation, resulting in a quicker onset of action.

Individual patient factors also play a significant role in how oxycodone metabolizes.

These can include:

  • Body composition — A person’s weight, body fat percentage, and metabolism can affect how quickly oxycodone is processed.
  • Age — Metabolic rates tend to decrease with age, which can prolong the effects of the drug.
  • Liver and kidney function — Since the liver metabolizes and the kidneys excrete oxycodone, impaired function of these organs can slow down the elimination of the drug from the body.
  • Other medications — Concurrent use of other medications can either speed up the metabolism of oxycodone, reducing its effectiveness, or slow it down, potentially leading to increased effects or side effects.
  • Genetics — Individual genetic variations can affect how oxycodone is metabolized, influencing both its efficacy and risk of side effects.


As for how long oxycodone stays in the system, it has a half-life of about 3 hours for immediate-release forms, meaning that it takes this amount of time for the body to eliminate half of the drug. The half-life of extended-release oxycodone is about 5.5 hours.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse can lead to various physical and behavioral symptoms.

Some common signs include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Sedation or drowsiness
  • Euphoria or extreme happiness
  • Poor coordination or dizziness
  • Slow or shallow breathing
  • Nodding off or falling asleep unexpectedly
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit

It is important to seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with opioid abuse. Treatment options, such as counseling and medication-assisted therapies, help individuals recover from addiction and manage withdrawal symptoms. A treatment center can help you. All you have to do is call. 

Verify Your Insurance

Looking for quality substance abuse treatment that’s also affordable? South Coast accepts most major insurance providers. Get a free insurance benefits check now.

Check Your Coverage​

Opioid Addiction Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health

If you or a loved one need opioid addiction treatment, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. The first step in treating addiction is a medical detox. This means using drugs to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Our medical detox program in California features caring and compassionate professionals. They provide you with medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

At South Coast, we take pride in offering care that is closely tailored to specific issues. To that end, we offer gender-specific detox programs, with medical detox for men in Irvine, CA, and medical detox for women in Huntington Beach, CA.

After detoxing, proper treatment can begin.

Treatment for substance abuse takes place along an entire spectrum of care. Along that entire spectrum are various behavioral therapies, support groups, and the use of medically-assisted treatment (MAT).

These levels of treatment are, in order, as follows:

Residential Treatment in California

After completing medical detox, you’ll receive inpatient treatment in Orange County California. There, you’ll receive medically-assisted treatment and dual diagnosis treatment to deal with any cravings or co-occurring mental health issues you may be battling.

We also offer residential treatment facilities in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Huntington Beach for those who desire gender-specific treatment. There, patients get round-the-clock medical attention and monitoring while living at the institution full-time.

In addition to individual and group counseling and medication management, you’ll also have access to leisure activities and family support services.

Partial Hospitalization in California

Most clients start substance abuse treatment with South Coast in our residential treatment program. After completing that, many desire something that still provides structure and support, but with extra space and time to oneself. For that, we offer Partial Hospitalization in Newport Beach.

A step down from inpatient care but with more structure than conventional outpatient programs, partial hospitalization offers a good balance for those looking to ease back into normal life. Clients can receive care five to seven days a week for several hours each day, returning to their homes in the evening.

This way, they can recover without putting their daily lives completely on hold, receiving intense therapeutic interventions like group and individual therapy, skill development, and medication management as necessary.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment in California

For those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery.

With a focus on group therapy, individual counseling, and education, clients undergoing Intensive Outpatient Treatment in Newport Beach can meet three to five days a week. Each session lasts three hours.

This level of care requires the least amount of attendance at a facility.

Start Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction but wonder how long addiction treatment takes or have other questions, call us at 866-881-1184 or contact us here. Our highly qualified staff will be happy to help give you an idea of what to expect from your addiction recovery timeline, verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have.

Pierce Willans
Kelly McIntyre
Medically Reviewed by Kelly McIntyre, MS, LMFT
Read More About addiction Treatment & Recovery
Start Your Recovery Today at South Coast

At South Coast, our experts are dedicated to providing comprehensive information to help you make well-informed decisions for your health and happiness in recovery.

Contact us today if you are ready to begin your journey to recovery. Our team is available around the clock, so feel free to call us at any time.