Oxycodone: What Is It?
Oxycodone is a powerful prescription opioid medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. The medication is typically taken orally and comes in several forms, including a tablet, a capsule, and a solution.
There are various brand names for oxycodone:
Oxycodone is available as a single-ingredient medication, but it is also often prescribed in combination with other substances, like acetaminophen (as in the drug Percocet) or aspirin, to enhance its pain-relieving effects.
Despite its effectiveness in pain management, oxycodone carries a high risk of addiction and misuse due to the way it interacts with the brain’s reward system, producing feelings of euphoria alongside its pain-relieving properties. As such, its use is carefully regulated, and it’s typically only prescribed for pain that hasn’t responded to non-opioid pain relievers.
Long-term use of oxycodone can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when use is abruptly discontinued. Overdose is also a risk, particularly when it’s taken in higher doses than prescribed, more frequently than prescribed, or in combination with alcohol or other substances.
In the United States, opioid misuse and addiction have been declared a public health crisis. Because of its high potential for addiction and abuse, Oxycodone is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
What Are the Effects of Oxycodone?
How long Oxycodone effects take depends on various factors, including an individual’s body weight, metabolism, overall health, and whether or not they’ve taken opioids before.
Physical effects of Oxycodone:
- Pain Relief — As an opioid, oxycodone effectively reduces the perception of pain by acting on specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord.
- Respiratory Depression — High doses of oxycodone can cause slow, shallow, or irregular breathing. This is one of the more dangerous side effects of opioids, as severe respiratory depression can lead to death.
- Constipation — Opioids slow down the digestive system, which often results in constipation.
- Nausea and Vomiting — These side effects are common, especially when first starting the medication or increasing the dosage.
- Drowsiness or Sedation — Oxycodone can make you feel drowsy or sedated, particularly when you first start taking it or when your dosage is increased.
- Itching or Rash — Some people may experience these symptoms due to an allergic reaction or sensitivity.
- Dry Mouth — This is another common side effect of many medications, including opioids.
Prolonged use of oxycodone can lead to physical dependence and addiction. It’s important to note that dependence (a physical adaptation of the body to the drug’s presence) is not the same as addiction (a behavioral disorder characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences), but one can lead to the other.
Mental effects of Oxycodone:
- Euphoria — Some individuals experience a feeling of intense happiness or euphoria when taking oxycodone, which can lead to misuse.
- Relaxation — Oxycodone can cause a state of relaxation or calmness.
- Confusion — Especially in older adults, confusion may be a side effect of oxycodone.
The onset of oxycodone’s effects typically occurs within 15 to 30 minutes after oral administration, and it reaches peak concentrations in the bloodstream about one to two hours after ingestion. The effects can last approximately 4 to 6 hours.
Please note that misuse of oxycodone can lead to overdose, which is a life-threatening condition. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to oxycodone, we are here to help.
How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?
Oxycodone has a relatively short half-life for an opiate – around three to four hours on average. Half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the level of a substance in the blood to be eliminated. It generally takes five half-lives for oxycodone to clear from the body entirely.
In simple terms, this means oxycodone takes about 20 to 22 hours to clear from the blood, but this can be influenced by various factors.
One of these is the type of drug test used:
- Urine — Oxycodone and its metabolites can typically be detected in urine for around one to seven days after the last dose
- Blood — Oxycodone is usually detectable in the blood for about 24 hours after the last use
- Saliva — It can be found in saliva for one to four days after the last use
- Hair — Up to 90 days or even longer after the last dose
These ranges are just estimates and the actual detection window can vary based on several factors, including:
Age and Sex
Individuals 65 and older have higher oxycodone blood concentrations than younger adults. As a result, they require more time to eliminate oxycodone from their systems. Oxycodone concentrations also tend to be 25% in females than males.
Live and Kidney Function
Oxycodone has a longer half-life in your bloodstream if you have renal or liver problems. For individuals with liver disease, oxycodone has a half-life of 2.3 hours greater than otherwise. In those with kidney issues, oxycodone can take up to an additional hour to leave the body.
Because of their genetics, some people absorb oxycodone more quickly than others. The enzymes in the liver primarily responsible for breaking down oxycodone are CYP3A4 and CPD2D6. Because some people have higher quantities of these enzymes, oxycodone leaves their bodies faster.
Most adults metabolize oxycodone at the same rate regardless of weight. However, those who are excessively overweight or underweight will have a slower metabolism.
The Dangers of Oxycodone and Alcohol
Mixing medication with alcohol is generally a bad idea. For example, taking alcohol and ibuprofen together greatly increases the risk of kidney damage. In the case of oxycodone and alcohol, you are mixing two depressants, meaning they will magnify the other’s effects.
Taking both alcohol and oxycodone together can lead to a variety of negative effects.
In the short term, this includes:
- Increased Intoxication — Alcohol and oxycodone both depress the central nervous system. When combined, they can greatly increase the level of intoxication, potentially leading to an overdose.
- Respiratory Depression — Both substances slow breathing, and taking them together can lead to dangerously slow, shallow, or even stopped breathing.
- Loss of Consciousness — The combined depressive effects on the central nervous system can lead to loss of consciousness or coma.
- Impaired Coordination — Both substances impair physical coordination and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
- Potential for Overdose — When combined, these substances can exacerbate each other’s effects, increasing the risk of an overdose, which can be fatal.
Long-term risks from mixing oxycodone and alcohol include:
- Addiction — Both alcohol and oxycodone carry a high potential for addiction. Using them together can greatly increase your risk of addiction to both.
- Liver Damage — Long-term alcohol use causes liver damage, and combining it with oxycodone may increase the risk of liver failure.
- Brain Damage — Chronic use of these substances can lead to cognitive decline, memory problems, and other forms of brain damage.
- Mental Health Disorders — Long-term use can also lead to or exacerbate mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
- Socioeconomic Consequences — Addiction can lead to job loss, financial difficulties, broken relationships, and other social and economic consequences.
- Higher Risk of Cancer — Studies show that chronic abuse of alcohol can raise a person’s risk of cancer, particularly stomach, and pancreatic cancer. While oxycodone is not by itself linked to cancer, mixing both increases the risk of addiction.
Combining alcohol and oxycodone greatly magnifies the risk of each substance. If someone you know is doing this, that’s a sign they may need substance abuse treatment.
Oxycodone Addiction Treatment at South Coast Behavioral Health
Dealing with an addiction to oxycodone or other opioids can be difficult – thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
South Coast Behavioral Health offers a fully-accredited medical detox program in California for those ready to start their recovery journey. In a safe and welcoming environment, our certified medical detox professionals will provide round-the-clock care as you detox from oxycodone.
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 you detox, we can then begin treating your oxycodone addiction. There are several different approaches to take here, including:
After completing medical detox, you’ll move to 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.
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 programs (IOP) are yet another gradual step forward on the road to recovery for those leaving inpatient residential treatment or partial hospitalization.
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.
If you or a loved one are struggling with oxycodone 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, help verify your insurance, and assist with any other questions you may have.
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