How to Quit Oxycodone
Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic prescription opioid medication that is used to treat moderate to severe pain.1 Though successful in treating pain, oxycodone is commonly misused among people who misuse narcotics and has a high potential for addiction, overdose, or even death.2 For this reason, quitting oxycodone may be important for people who misuse opioids.
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with oxycodone misuse, this article will discuss the challenges, benefits, and tips when quitting oxycodone.
Challenges with Quitting Oxycodone
Opioids like oxycodone attach to opioid receptors in the brain and body that block pain signals and flood the body with dopamine.3 The resulting feelings of pain relief, pleasure, and euphoria can reinforce repeated use.3
Understanding the withdrawal and detox process requires knowledge of the concept of dependence. Over time, repeated use can lead to physiological dependence, in which a person’s body gets so used to the presence of oxycodone that they will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they stop using it.2, 3
With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively use substances to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms.3 The extreme discomfort of these physiological effects can make it difficult to stop taking oxycodone and other opioids.3
Withdrawal symptoms can present themselves within a few hours after the last use of oxycodone.3 Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include:3
- Bone/muscle pain.
- Insomnia or problems sleeping.
- Diarrhea and vomiting.
- Cold flashes.
- Severe cravings.
- Uncontrollable leg movements.
Is it Safe to Quit Oxycodone Cold Turkey?
It is not advisable to quit oxycodone “cold turkey” or without medical supervision.8 Quitting a medication “cold turkey” means stopping a medication without proper guidance from medical professionals.8 Suddenly stopping oxycodone use can have adverse health effects, making supervised detox and withdrawal important when quitting oxycodone.8
If a person stops using opioids like oxycodone “cold turkey,” they may be more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, or pain.8 If a person tries to quit oxycodone without support or supervision, they may be more likely to take oxycodone again to help relieve their withdrawal symptoms.8 This is known as a relapse.8
Tips for Quitting Oxycodone
Quitting oxycodone and other opioids can present challenges; however, oxycodone addiction and misuse are treatable.9 With support and a few helpful tips, you can begin the road to recovery and a healthier lifestyle.
Tips for quitting oxycodone use include the following:
- Seek treatment under the guidance of a medical doctor and treatment team. A treatment team may include a medical doctor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, and nurses. This allows the person to get comprehensive treatment of the mind and body. They can also guide you to the proper form of treatment based on your needs.4
- Address co-occurring mental health disorders along with opioid use disorder. Treatment should address both disorders, with the help of medication if necessary.9
- Get involved in mutual support groups. 12-step groups and other types of recovery programs can be beneficial to help maintain sobriety and have support during recovery.4
- Remember that addiction is a mental health condition that affects the brain. Things like genetics, stress, environmental factors, and chronic illnesses can play a role in substance misuse.5
Why Quit Oxycodone
There are several reasons to quit oxycodone if you are misusing the substance. Some benefits of quitting oxycodone with the support of a treatment team include:10
- Decreased pain and discomfort.
- Better sleep.
- Behavioral health support.
- Help with creating a continuing care plan.
- Support for co-occurring conditions.
- Nutritional guidance.
- Decreased risk of overdose.
Obtaining oxycodone through illegal means may increase the risk of overdose.5 If a person obtains pills illicitly, they are at a higher risk of being exposed to additives such as fentanyl and methamphetamine.5 Counterfeit pills can look identical to the real tablet, which makes them difficult to identify.5 Quitting oxycodone may help eliminate the risk of overdose.
The detoxification process involves medically supervised withdrawal from oxycodone to help a person eliminate oxycodone from their body while minimizing any unwanted withdrawal symptoms.7 There are 3 main components to the detox phase of treatment, which include evaluation, stabilization, and preparation.6
During the evaluation, your treatment team, which includes doctors, will test for the presence of opioids in your system.6 They will also gather information about your health and psychological history to understand your needs.6
Stabilization is the process in which your treatment team works together to successfully manage withdrawal symptoms, so you are medically stabilized.6
The preparation stage prepares you for further addiction treatment after detox.6 This stage is very important, as detox is typically just the first stage of treatment.9
Medications for Oxycodone Detox
During detoxification, the treatment team may use medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and improve a person’s level of comfort during withdrawal.3
Medications used in opioid withdrawal treatment include: 3, 11
- Methadone, which is an opioid receptor agonist that blocks withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Buprenorphine, which is an opioid receptor partial agonist that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Lofexidine, which is an adrenergic receptor agonist that helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Types of Oxycodone Addiction Treatment Programs
Since treatment is individualized, working with your doctor and treatment team can help you identify the type of treatment that’s right for you.9
Types of oxycodone addiction treatment include the following:4, 6
- Detoxification to help a person during the withdrawal process.
- Inpatient services to support a person through treatment in a residential or hospital setting.
- Outpatient services to support a person recovering from substance misuse on a regular basis through various treatment modalities.
- Aftercare services to help prevent relapse and maintain abstinence.
- Medication management to support the detox and withdrawal process, and treatment for co-occurring disorders.
- Behavioral therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy to help understand triggers to use and create healthy behavior patterns.
How to Help a Person Struggling with Oxycodone Addiction
Figuring out how to support a person with addiction can be challenging. Here are a few ways you can support your loved one:12
- Talk to them and offer support in a loving way.
- Don’t use stigmatizing language about addiction (i.e., shaming, blaming, etc.).
- Show compassion.
- Help them find treatment and/or support if they ask for assistance.
- Continue to take care of yourself.
- Consider family therapy.
You can also reach out to American Addiction Centers (AAC) to get more information about oxycodone addiction treatment. The caring admissions team is available 24/7 at to help you understand treatment options, check insurance coverage, and offer valuable resources about treatment.