Oxycodone is a highly addictive opioid medication that can treat short- and long-term pain. How long it stays in a person’s system depends on several factors.
People who use oxycodone may worry about its effects on employer drug tests. They may also wonder how long it will remain in breast milk, as well as how long it takes for withdrawal symptoms to ease as oxycodone exits the body.
The length of time oxycodone stays in the body depends on several factors, including:
- the dosage
- how a person takes it (orally, intravenously, or nasally)
- the person’s metabolism
- how many doses they took before stopping
- their body size
- their age
- any other medications the person is taking, as some inhibit the metabolism of oxycodone and lead to increased levels in the blood
The testing method is also important, since oxycodone may remain in the urine, hair, and breast milk long after its effects wear off.
Keep reading to learn more about oxycodone and how long it remains in the body.
Most people feel pain relief within an hour of taking oxycodone. They may also notice other symptoms around this time, including:
- feelings of euphoria
In addition, some people experience side effects,
- changes in their heart and breathing rate
- allergic reactions
Oxycodone usually lasts for around 4–6 hours when the dosage is immediate release, although some people find the effects to last even longer. If the dosage is extended release, they can last for up to 12 hours.
People who take the drug nasally or intravenously usually notice a “high” almost immediately after taking it.
When a person uses oxycodone for a long time, at a higher dosage than their doctor recommends, or without the supervision of a doctor, their chance of addiction increases. Addiction can cause a person to crave oxycodone to feel normal, which may cause them to take much more than is safe.
Overdoses with oxycodone can cause a person’s heart or breathing to stop, send them into a coma, or even be fatal.
Most people take oxycodone every 6 or 12 hours, depending on the version of the drug they use. When it is time to take the next dose, most people no longer feel the effects of the drug from the previous dose.
However, the drug may remain in the body for much longer than the effects last.
By the 24 hour mark, blood concentrations of the drug are either very low or nonexistent. This means that most people will get a negative blood test within a day or two of their last dose.
On average, oxycodone stays in the urine for 2–4 days following the last dose. One 2013 study found an average duration of 30 hours following a single dose.
However, the actual detection window varies due to several factors, including:
- Hydration: Drinking a lot of water may dilute the urine, shortening the detection window.
- Dosage: Smaller doses exit the body more quickly. The body can generally metabolize a single dose faster than it can metabolize many doses.
- Metabolism: Some people’s bodies metabolize drugs faster than others.
Hair tests for oxycodone are the most sensitive. This is because it is possible for oxycodone to contaminate the hair even if a person does not use it.
Also, oxycodone may remain on the ends of the hair for months or even years after a person stops using it. Tests of the root of the hair may get a positive result for weeks or months.
The length of time oxycodone stays in breast milk varies, as does an infant’s exposure to the drug.
For example, a newborn drinking only colostrum — that is, the milk produced by the maternal mammary glands during the first few days after giving birth — would get less oxycodone than an infant whose sole source of nutrition is breast milk and who nurses many times each day.
These data suggest a significant variation in the amount of oxycodone present in breast milk. Most guides suggest that women can still breastfeed if they use oxycodone, but that the dosage should not exceed 30–40 milligrams in a 24 hour period.
Oxycodone peaks in the bloodstream 1–2 hours after taking an oral dose. Blood concentrations remain steady for about 6 hours, then they fall rapidly.
This means that most people who depend on oxycodone will begin experiencing withdrawal at around 6 hours. Symptoms may occur even earlier if they take more frequent doses.
The length of withdrawal depends on numerous factors, including whether a person quits the drug completely or tapers down the dosage. A
For many people, physical withdrawal lasts for only a few days. However, the psychological cravings can last much longer.
The length of time oxycodone remains in a person’s system depends on the testing method, how quickly their body metabolizes the drug, and several other factors. It may even change in a single person’s body over time.
For people recovering from addiction, withdrawal symptoms tend to be relatively short-lived, though cravings can last a long time.
A doctor, addiction specialist, or testing laboratory can offer guidance about how long a person can expect oxycodone to remain in their body.