The best and safest way to detox from prescription opioids such as oxycodone is through medically supervised detox conducted in a certified detox facility. Such detox centers offer support and safety for individuals suffering from oxycodone addiction or abuse to get the assistance they need. They also have clinical and medical professionals available who are qualified to identify and manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.
During an oxycodone detox, the individual will undergo an assessment to find out their psychological, emotional, and physical needs. An oxycodone detox program is developed based on the person’s issues and updated continuously as their needs change in this period. The medical team in the treatment facility will treat any unpleasant oxycodone withdrawal symptoms to gradually bring the patient into a sober and stable state.
Oxycodone detox can be challenging due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, which can also be potentially lethal. The process begins after the user has taken the last dose.
The brain usually creates opioid chemicals, namely enkephalins and endorphins, to minimize pain signals. These chemicals, however, are not powerful enough to alleviate extreme pain or send our bodies into overdose. Sustained Oxycodone use disrupts the production of these natural pain-relieving chemicals.
When someone stops using oxycodone, the chemical known as noradrenaline or norepinephrine is no longer inhibited and gets back into the brain’s pathways. This chemical causes most withdrawal symptoms during oxycodone detox, such as sweating, vomiting, nausea, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, the pain and discomfort of opioid withdrawal are sufficient to keep most people from seeking treatment.
Oxycodone Withdrawal Symptoms
People who become dependent or addicted to oxycodone will get withdrawal symptoms within a few hours after taking their last dose. Common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms include:
- Severe cramping
- Uncontrolled leg movement
- Goosebumps and cold flashes
- Muscle and joint pain
Medical professionals previously thought opioid withdrawal was not lethal because people undergoing detox suffered flu-like symptoms. However, several studies conducted on unsupervised detox showed potentially fatal results of the same.
The fatality of oxycodone detox mainly stems from two seemingly minor symptoms: diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can dehydrate the affected individual and strain their already weak biological system. If they are not treated, persistent diarrhea and vomiting can increase the blood sodium levels causing seizures and heart failure.
This is why it is essential to have medical supervision during an oxycodone detox if you are trying to reduce or quit using altogether.
Stages of Oxycodone Detox
Medical oxycodone detox involves going through withdrawal under supervision by medical professionals. Detox is the first step in treating a substance abuse problem and is the most crucial stage of the rehabilitation process. Patients usually need to go through continued care to deal with the social and psychological issues contributing to their oxycodone abuse or addiction.
Drug detox typically involves three stages:
- Evaluation – This involves going through a complete assessment to identify the patient’s needs while testing whether they have any other mental or physical disorders that require treatment or observation.
- Stabilization – This stage includes observing the patient’s overall symptoms, giving them medication as needed, and aligning the person to go forward with further treatment.
- Fostering the person’s enrollment into treatment – This phase includes working with the patient to ensure they understand the need for treatment after completing detox and assisting their entry into a good rehab program.
The detox program will vary in duration depending on your individual needs, but a typical stay lasts for about seven days.
Oxycodone withdrawal can be uncomfortable and painful, and the most effective and comfortable means to detox is through a gradual reduction of the dosage or a taper. The taper is typically conducted in an opioid treatment program (OTP) and is known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Long-term medication maintenance is also a viable option for people with histories of chronic relapse.
Common medications used during MAT include Subutex or Suboxone. After completing oxycodone detox, Naltrexone can be administered to the patient to increase their chances of sobriety and reduce cravings. Some individuals will also be given IV shots of Naltrexone (Vivitrol), which are helpful for people with challenges with medication management.
Tapering off your oxycodone dosage usually generates less intense withdrawal symptoms than quitting cold turkey. However, during oxycodone detox, most clinicians and doctors prescribe certain drugs to help manage some withdrawal symptoms and reduce their severity. These medications include:
This medication is used for maintenance and detox. It works by blocking the brain’s oxycodone receptors, reducing its euphoric effects and cravings while extending long-term recovery. Continued Naltrexone for up to one year after detox helps bring back the brain’s chemical balance. Please note that this drug is not prescribed during detox because using it while you have opioids in your system can immediately cause acute, severe withdrawal.
This drug is made from a combination of naloxone and suboxone, and buprenorphine and offers relief from withdrawal symptoms without producing the high of oxycodone. It also helps to reduce cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms during detox. This medication is used for medication management for more extended periods.
Clonidine is administered during oxycodone detox to ease withdrawal symptoms such as cognitive defects, anxiety, anger, restlessness, agitation, and irritability. Patients on this drug have reported having a more bearable withdrawal, improving their chances of getting through withdrawal and advancing towards long-term recovery.
If you feel you are suffering from an Oxycodone abuse or addiction problem, it is essential to seek medical detox as the first step towards recovery. This way, you will have the necessary support and supervision from a medical team to ensure you go through the process as comfortably and safely as possible. This will surely boost your chances for an effective recovery.