How Long Does OxyContin Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Oxycontin Stay In Your System?

OxyContin is a brand name drug that contains the generic medication oxycodone in a timed-release formula. Oxycodone belongs to a class of drugs called opioid analgesics or narcotic analgesics.

If you’re taking oxycodone, you may be wondering about the  amount of time the effects will last and how long the medication will show up on a drug test. Today, we’re answering the question, how long does OxyContin stay in your system?

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a strong painkiller used to treat moderate to severe pain resulting from trauma, injury, or surgery. It is only prescribed by a doctor when other treatments prove ineffective or cannot be tolerated by the patient. Oxycodone can be taken by itself or in combination with another medicine like aspirin or acetaminophen.

This medicine is available under the brand names ‘Endone,’ ‘OxyContin,’ ‘Percocet,’ and ‘OxyNorm.’ It comes in different strengths and tablet, capsule, and liquid forms. While some types of oxycodone provide immediate relief, others can be slow-acting due to controlled-release formulations, which may leave longer-lasting effects. Oxycodone is not typically recommended for treating chronic pain.

OxyContin mechanism of action

Oxycodone is obtained from the poppy plant. It acts by binding to specific opioid receptors in the central nervous system and blocking the feelings of pain. Because these receptors are present in the pleasure centers of the brain, oxycodone has a high potential for substance addiction that can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. For this reason, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the DEA.

How long does Oxycodone take to work?

Oxycodone is a powerful pain reliever popular for acting quickly and effectively. Immediate-release oxycodone typically starts working within 10-30 minutes, while the long-acting forms of oxycodone take about an hour to start working. Unlike short-acting oxycodone, controlled-release oxycodone does not have a peak effect.

Side effects of Oxycodone

Oxycodone causes similar side effects as other opioids, including:

  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Dental issues
  • Excessive sweating
  • Allergic reaction/itchiness
  • Sudden drowsiness right after a dose
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Concentration problems
  • Moodiness
  • Restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Stiff muscles
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety

OxyContin dosage and use

OxyContin is available in various dosage forms and strengths, such as 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 120 mg extended-release tablets. Doctors usually start patients on a low dose and increase the dose slowly until the pain is well controlled. For example, your doctor may start you on OxyContin 10 mg every 12 hours. Patients who have previously been treated with opioid medications may need a higher dose to obtain pain relief.

You should always take OxyContin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do NOT crush, chew, or dissolve OxyContin tablets. This is important because OxyContin is a prolonged-release formulation. Crushing, chewing, or dissolving the tablet can lead to the entire 12-hour dose being rapidly absorbed into the system, causing serious complications, including a fatal overdose. If you forgot to take a dose of OxyContin and you are within 4 hours of your dosage time, then take your tablet, but if you are more than 4 hours late, call your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice.

How soon do you get pain relief with OxyContin?

When you take oxycodone by mouth (you should take it with food), you will start to feel the effects of the medication within 20-30 minutes. The drug reaches peak concentration in the blood roughly 1-2 hours after you take a dose. However, extended-release formulations of oxycodone such as OxyContin can take 3-4 hours to reach peak blood concentration. Tolerance to oxycodone develops over time, meaning you might take longer to feel the effects of the medicine, and the pain relief may not be as strong. If this happens, you should not adjust the dose of the medicine yourself. Talk to your doctor and they will advise you what to do. They will either increase the dose of OxyContin or switch you to another pain medication. Taking larger doses or more frequent doses of OxyContin without speaking to a doctor can have serious health consequences.

When do OxyContin effects wear off?

Doctors use something called half-life to measure how long a drug lasts in the system. Half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body or for the blood concentration to reach half of the peak concentration. Immediate-release preparations of oxycodone have a shorter half-life of around 3 hours, meaning the average person eliminates half the drug in this time. Controlled-release formulations of oxycodone like OxyContin have a longer half-life of around 5.5 hours. This means the effect of OxyContin lasts longer.

How long does OxyContin stay in the body?

It takes several half-lives for oxycodone to be completely eliminated from the body. Since the half-life of oxycodone is around 5.5 hours, roughly five and a half hours after you take a dose, half the drug has been eliminated from the body. After another 5.5 hours, half of the remaining OxyContin is eliminated, meaning you’re left with one-fourth of the original dose. After an additional 5.5 hours, you’re left with one-eighth of the original amount of OxyContin in your system, and so on. Your pain relief from OxyContin will likely stop before the drug is completely cleared from your system.

How length of time OxyContin stays in the system varies from person to person since everyone has a different metabolism. In the average person, oxycodone is completely cleared from the blood in about 24 hours. However, it can be detected in urine, saliva, and hair for longer periods, and may, therefore, show up on a drug test. Oxycodone can be detected in saliva for 1-4 days after your last dose, in urine for 3-4 days after your last dose, and in hair up to 90 days after the last dose.

How long Oxycodone stays in the urine

Most urine tests can easily identify drugs like cocaine and amphetamines in the system, but not oxycodone. Therefore, you may require an additional test to check for oxycodone and its metabolites.

Generally, if someone takes oxycodone, it can be found in a urine test three to four days after the last dose, but this timeline may be longer for those suffering from kidney or liver conditions.

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How long Oxycodone stays in hair

The detection window for oxycodone in hair follicle tests extends to 90 days. Although it takes about a week for the last dose of oxycodone to show up in a person’s hair, it can still be picked up on in a hair test for up to 90 days.

How long Oxycodone stays in the blood

A blood test can pick up on the use of oxycodone in 15 to 30 minutes after the last dose, and it remains detectable in a blood test for a 24-hour timeframe.

How long Oxycodone stays in saliva

Oxycodone can remain in a person’s saliva for one to four days after the last dose. Therefore, a saliva test can easily detect drug use during this window.

Is there a specific opiate test for Oxycodone?

A specific opiate test alone can’t detect the presence of an opioid like oxycodone and its metabolites, as the opioids included in a test can vary by facility, laboratory, and region. Routine drug screening panels generally only detect natural opioids like heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opioid tests are often included in a broader screening panel, such as a 10-panel drug test, which detects a variety of illegal and prescription drugs.

If a patient tests positive for the drug on an initial test, a more specific test may be conducted for confirmation. Common drug screening panels may not detect synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids like tramadol, methadone, and fentanyl and may require a more targeted test, such as a urine or blood test.

Factors affecting OxyContin clearance

How long it takes for your body to clear OxyContin depends on several factors, including:

Age: Older people above the age of 65 take longer to clear oxycodone from the body compared to younger people. Blood concentrations of oxycodone can be up to 15% higher in elderly people. Doctors dose the drug accordingly when prescribing it to those above the age of 65.

Gender: The OxyContin package insert states that for unclear reasons the blood concentration of oxycodone can be up to 25% higher in women compared to men.

Kidney and liver function: Oxycodone is eliminated from the body by the liver and kidneys. In people with liver and kidney dysfunction, the elimination of the drug can be slowed by 1-2 hours, meaning it takes such individuals longer to clear oxycodone from their system.

Tolerance: People who have been taking oxycodone for some duration may take longer than new users to clear the drug from their system. This is because oxycodone tends to accumulate in the fatty tissues over time and takes longer to be completely cleared.

Alcohol consumption: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant like opioids. Therefore, people who consume alcohol along with oxycodone may take longer to clear both substances from the body. It is worth remembering that consuming alcohol and opioids together can lead to dangerous side effects, including a potentially lethal overdose.

Drug interactions: The body clears oxycodone through a pathway called the cytochrome P450 3A. Certain other drugs like antibiotics (erythromycin) and antifungals (ketoconazole) can interfere with this pathway and make it more difficult for the body to break down oxycodone, resulting in dangerous side effects like respiratory depression. Some other drugs like rifampin can have the opposite effect and may decrease the effectiveness of oxycodone.

If you or someone you know is using OxyContin, always follow the prescribing physician’s instructions and take the medication as directed. Increasing the dose or frequency can lead to dependency. Stopping OxyContin abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms. The pain relief you get from OxyContin will wear off in a few hours, but the drug can stay in your system for up to four days in saliva and urine and up to 90 days in hair.

For more guidance and support, contact Discover Recovery’s experts at addiction treatment centers near you.

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