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How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System

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Understanding how long oxycodone stays in the system can be critically important to some people. This pain-relieving drug is available in immediate-release (Roxicodone®, Percolone®) and controlled-release forms such as OxyContin. In addition, it can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Opioid chemicals target the brain, spleen, lungs, liver, intestinal tract, and skeletal muscles. On an empty stomach, it begins reducing pain within 15 minutes. 

  • Controlled-release OxyContin minimizes pain within 45 to 60 minutes.

It is a synthesized drug derived from the Persian poppy plant and an opioid alkaloid. It is the most commonly prescribed opioid for acute pain relief. It is a “narcotic agonist,” meaning it is an analgesic of opiate receptors in the brain.

While these feelings may be pleasurable, they can be dangerous in several professions, particularly driving or other heavy machinery use. As such, many industries test for recent usage. In addition, it places a person at high risk of opioid addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death.

  • This medication is a potent opioid analgesic with an exceptionally high addiction risk. It is a Schedule II drug by the U.S. DEA. They are “drugs with medical purposes but with an extremely high abuse potential.”

It works by inhibiting ascending pain pathways, thus altering our response to pain. As a result, it produces analgesia, respiratory depression, and sedation. Once absorbed, oxycodone goes to skeletal muscle, liver, intestinal tract, lungs, spleen, and brain.

Non-abusers could probably pass a drug screen in the following forms:

  • Blood test after one day
  • Urine test after three to four days
  • Hair follicle test after 90-plus days
  • Saliva test after one to four days

Users should know it is detectable this quickly;

  • Saliva within 15 minutes
  • Blood in 15 minutes
  • Urine immediately after ingestion
  • Hair follicles within five to seven days

This medication is a synthetic opioid. Because it is artificial, there are tests designed to detect its presence. These tests are highly accurate and can detect the presence of the drug in the system long after it has effectively left the user’s body.

  • It has a half-life of 2-4 hr; 4.5 hr (OxyContin) (can vary with a person’s liver function).
  • It means that roughly half the drug is removed from the body every 5 hours.
  • It generally takes 5-6 half-lives to cleanse the body thoroughly, and urine tests can usually only detect traces of the drug for about a day beyond that.


Usually, it should only be detectable up to 2 days after use.

Blood tests can only detect it in the body for roughly 24 hours after the last usage, directly in line with how long a drug test can detect most drug use.

Finally, while rarely administered, except by law enforcement or rehabilitation facilities, hair follicle tests can detect use for up to 90 days after stopping. It is almost three times as long after use as most other drugs can be seen in hair follicle tests, again due to the precision of the specific tests used to identify users.

People in their early 20s have elevated levels of liver enzymes that accelerate. In addition, individuals over 40 usually take longer to excrete drugs due to age-related reductions in liver and kidney functioning. Metabolism is slower in older adults as well. Overweight users tend to eliminate it faster than those who are height/weight proportionate.

Physical tolerance built by regular users and abusers will significantly delay elimination from the body regardless of individual variables. In addition, addicts naturally accumulate the metabolites in soft tissues and organs, making it much more challenging to pass drug tests.

  • Following a prescribed dosage of oral (immediate-release), most people experience sedation, euphoria, and analgesia within 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Plasma levels reach peak levels at around 45 to 60 minutes. Controlled-release versions take three hours to reach peak plasma levels.
  • The duration of the effects is three to six hours, depending on individual factors such as age, weight, overall health, metabolism, and organ functioning.

The liver metabolizes it. The liver performs metabolization with the help of the P450 enzyme. It produces opioid-based metabolites called oxymorphone, noroxymorphone, and nor oxycodone. Therefore, ultra-rapid metabolizers (≤7% of Caucasians and ≤30% of Asian and African populations) may have increased toxicity due to rapid conversion.

  • It can cause serious, life-threatening, or fatal respiratory depression.
  • Keep away from children because an accidental of even one dose can result in a fatal overdose.
  • Prolonged use during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may be life-threatening if not recognized and treated.
  • Taking benzodiazepines or other CNS depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Elimination by the body is primarily through urine (90 percent) and perspiration (10 percent). However, it may take longer to leave the body in people with kidney and bladder disorders.

Withdrawal symptoms start roughly 4 – 6 hours after stopping, peak after about 72 hours, and usually continue for about a week to 10 days. Because withdrawal symptoms are relatively obvious, especially during the days just before and after the peak, a person who uses it may be identified by these symptoms even if the drug is not detectable in their body. These symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Sleep deficiency and yawning
  • Runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes
  • Chronic, non-acute pain and cramps
  • Increased breathing and heart rate
  • Uncontrollable mood swings
  • Restlessness and possibly even insomnia
  • Sudden bouts of weakness
  • Heightened anxiety

While many of these symptoms resemble those caused by illnesses of some sort, they are unlikely to be written off as illnesses, especially if no coworkers are sick or coworkers later get sick. Also, these symptoms are a relatively clear indicator that an individual temporarily quit a drug to pass a test.

Addiction, abuse, and misuse risks increase in patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse or mental illness (e.g., major depression). Always gradually taper the dosage under the supervision of a qualified physician.

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