Opioid Addiction - Drug and Alcohol

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Want to learn how long oxycodone stays in your system? Our blog talks about the surprising details about oxycodone abuse and more.

How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 22, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

A common question that comes up around drug use is how long a particular drug stays in the body.

The reasons for this curiosity could be many. For instance, someone undergoing psychiatric treatment might be very conscious about the effects a drug may have with any prescriptions they may be taking.

For healthcare professionals, knowing how long a drug stays in the system is important to ensure there are no potential harmful interactions with any medications. For athletes using masking agents or illicit substances to mask the use of drugs banned by a sport governing body, knowing the duration for which a drug remains in the body is necessary to avoid detection in the drug tests.

Oxycodone is among the prescription drugs most likely to be abused. So, how long does oxycodone stay in the body?

By the Numbers:

Statistics related to drug overdose deaths in the US indicate that California has a serious problem related to deaths due to opioid overdosing, involving opioids like oxycodone.

Opiates & Opioids: What Is the Difference?

It is easy to get confused between these two similar-sounding names of drugs. When categorized broadly, opiates and opioids are two types of drugs. Collectively, both opiates and opioids are called narcotics. In simpler terms, these are pain-killing substances with a high risk of addiction.

However, opiates are chemical compounds extracted from the actual poppy plant. Some of the most popular opiates are opium, heroin, and morphine. Opioids are lab-synthesized chemical compounds that are not extracted from plant matter. The most common examples include oxycodone, fentanyl, and loperamide. Sometimes opioids might contain a partial chemical component derived from the opium plant. Still, opioids are synthetic drugs.

In modern times, opioid is the more common term and refers to both types of drugs.

Who Wants to Know How Long Oxycontin Stays in Your System?

It is important to understand that some drugs last in the body for just a day, while others might leave traces that can be detected after weeks or even a month. The type of people who would be curious about the period for which oxycodone stays in the body include:

Sports Professionals

Many people involved in professional sports need to know how long opioid painkillers like oxycodone will stay in the system due to drug tests. A quarterback recovering from a serious injury who is taking oxycodone legitimately could be flagged on a drug test, causing damage to their reputation and career.

Sports-related drug testing can be ongoing and relentless, often testing entire teams and their supporting staff without a schedule—surprise drug testing that could include blood and urine tests. This makes guilty sportspersons even more curious about the half-life of every drug they are abusing and the time after which a drug will no longer be detectable.

Drug Rehab Staff

At a drug rehab or sober living home, drug testing is often done as some people are prone to relapsing. Sometimes, a drug test is also needed upfront to establish the drug levels in the body before starting drug detox. This is important, as a person's drug use determines how drug detox is treated.

In residential or inpatient drug rehab settings, drug testing is routinely done to establish if the person hasn't relapsed. In all such scenarios, the medical care professionals running the tests often need to know about when the drug was last used, and the type of drugs used. This helps to provide a better idea about the authenticity of the drug tests. When testing for addictive drugs like oxycodone, the drug testing personnel often factor in statistics about how long oxycodone stays in the body.

Workplace Professionals

In some jobs, particularly those that involve operating heavy machinery or vehicles, drug testing is regular. Here, professionals managing the entire process often need to know the duration for which a drug remains in the body. For instance, a drug test might be mandated by a potential employer for a job needing maximum alertness. Someone addicted to oxycodone could seriously jeopardize the safety of the work setting and productivity levels.

Workplace drug testing can often get very stringent. It can include recurring saliva and urine tests. This might apply to the pre-employment phase, on-the-job status, and any instance where there was a workplace accident.

Legal Situations

Drug testing is often mandatory when a crime has been committed. A law enforcement agency can order random drug tests at the crime scene. Sometimes, drug testing is done as a part of parole or probation management. In such drug-testing instances, a drug like Oxycodone can show in the saliva swab testing if it has been under 4 days since it was last consumed.

Also, drug testing can be done by the side of the road when someone is pulled up or even at workplaces when on-site drug abuse is a threat.

Understand Oxycodone: What Is Oxycodone

Oxycodone is a commonly prescribed opioid drug that can be very helpful in relieving symptoms of pain. In people with chronic pain or those undergoing a demanding physical rehabilitation schedule,

As a pain medication, oxycodone finds use in conventional healthcare settings and as an ongoing medication for people recovering from major surgery, injury, or trauma. In severe pain, like the unbearable pain associated with burn victims or cancer pain, opioids like oxycodone are regularly prescribed.

However, since oxycodone is an effective pain-relieving medication, it also becomes an easily addictive drug in some cases. People can get addicted to the feeling of relief experienced when the dosage effects of oxycodone peak. This is when the threat of addiction sets in. In the US, it is common to find tabloid pieces featuring deaths and ER visits due to opioid-related overdose and abuse.

Some popular brand names for immediate-release Oxycodone:

  • Roxycodone

  • Roxybond

Some popular brand names for controlled/extended-release Oxycodone:

  • OxyContin CR 

  • Xtampza ER

  • Some popular combination medications that contain Oxycodone:

  • Oxycodone with aspirin 

  • Oxycodone with acetaminophen 

  • Oxycodone with ibuprofen 

Some popular street names for Oxycodone:

  • 40

  • 80

  • Hillbilly heroin

  • Kicker

  • Blue

  • Beans

The desired effects of oxycodone arise from the drug's ability to bind to opioid receptors that help to block out the pain. This can also be understood as oxycodone working on the brain's pleasure centers. Unfortunately, the overall sense of relief can be hard to let go of for some people, and they seek the relaxation associated with oxycodone even after the prescribed medication schedule has been completed.

Oxycodone addiction can be severe, becoming a chronic problem for people who cannot seem to get through a day at work or home without their daily dose of Oxycodone.

This is why oxycodone remains a federally controlled substance, and knowing how long this opioid can stay in the system is also necessary to understand its withdrawal effects. A good drug rehab center will tell you that abruptly stopping the use of this medication is not a good decision. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be hard to manage without medical supervision, and a drug-tapering method is usually suggested to bypass extreme withdrawal symptoms.

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Different Drugs Stay in Your System for Different Amounts of Time

Drugs are foreign substances that can be consumed for reasons as different as treating a disease or for a recreational high. While medical care drugs are a product of the pharmaceutical industry, illicitly produced drugs are created in makeshift labs.

While prescription drugs contain controlled concentrations of chemicals, illicit drugs can include anything from butane to household cleaning supplies. No matter what type of drug is consumed, each drug produces physical and psychological effects. Each drug is metabolized differently in the body. The metabolites or the processed form of the drug can be found in the body for some time after it was consumed. How quickly the drug is absorbed in the bloodstream, the time it takes to exit the body via urine, and how quickly it is metabolized by the body define the high experienced from an abused drug.

For instance, some forms of LSD take effect within 30 minutes and the high can last anything from 6 to 12 hours. In comparison, the high of cocaine is felt for about 30 minutes. Even when the effect seems to have worn off, it is not necessary that the drug has completely exited your body. Some traces can be found even after some months. 

How Long Does Oxycodone Last?

Oxycodone is a relatively fast-acting painkiller. The regular form of the drug is taken every four to six hours. Most people feel the effects of oxycodone around 15 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects for most people peak around a half-hour or a full hour after a dose of Oxycodone is taken.

For extended-release and other forms of oxycodone, the effects take longer. Extended-release oxycodone takes around three to seven hours to peak.

As for how long oxycodone stays in the system, that depends on multiple factors like a person's physiology, the amount of oxycodone they're taking, and more. Researchers use the term "half-life" to determine how long opioids like oxycodone stay in the system. A drug's half-life is how long the body takes to process half of a dose of a drug. In oxycodone's case, it takes just over three hours for half of a dose to be metabolized by the body.

As far as leaving the bloodstream, oxycodone takes longer to fully leave the system.

How Are Drugs Like Oxycodone Detected in Your System?

In terms of how a drug is tested for and how it shows up in the drug screening, there are limited options, such as: 

  • Hair testing

  • Blood testing

  • Urine testing

  • Saliva testing

  • Perspiration testing

Urine testing is the most common form of drug testing. Urine drug test results are also processed more quickly and is preferred in global and federal government-recommended drug testing.

Blood testing can provide more detailed results, but it takes a bit more time and is also more invasive as it involves an injection. Hair drug testing is perhaps the most challenging to cheat, and can detect drug usage even 90 days after last using a drug.

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How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Your System?

Opioid pain relievers like oxycodone or codeine come with a high risk of abuse. These drugs provide immediate relief, and the individual can quickly develop tolerance to a low dose, creating a high chance of gradually upping the dosage and becoming addicted.

However, even a slight overdose of oxycodone can induce symptoms like spasms, slurred speech, decreased attention, and an unstable gait. In addition, the duration for which a drug like oxycodone stays in the system varies across every individual.

How long does Oxycodone stay in your system? This chart shows how long Oxycodone stays in urine, saliva, blood, and hair

Here's how long Oxycodone can be detected with various drug tests:

Blood Drug Test

For up to 24 hours after the last dose was consumed

Urine Drug Test

For up to 3 to 4 days after the last dose was taken

Saliva Drug Test

From 1 to 4 days after the last dose was taken

Hair Drug Test

For up to 90 days after the last dose was taken

Factors that Determine How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your System

There are many reasons why the same drug can produce different side effects, different signs of addiction, and different duration for staying in the system.

Just consider Xanax. The effects of this drug and the time it stays in the body is influenced by expected factors such as age and overall health condition. In comparison, alcohol is metabolized very differently by the body, dictated by the many enzymes needed for completely metabolizing it.

There are so many variations across similar individuals in the same group that defining a standard duration for how long oxycodone can be found in the system is complex. Instead, rehab specialists stick to the average confirmed after years of research and serve as a general benchmark.

The most important factors include the following:

  • Drug half-life

  • Metabolic rate

  • Kidney function 

  • Liver function 

  • Use of alcohol along with the drug

  • Medical conditions affecting drug elimination

  • Amount of drug used – injected, administered orally, or vaped

  • Hydration levels – has the person been drinking enough water?

  • Body mass index – BMI can indirectly affect drug retention in the body

  • Frequency of use – taken daily, weekly, or multiple times during the day

  • Gender: drug concentration might be more or less for healthy females versus males

  • Type of drug used – Oxycodone is an opioid and different from hallucinogens like LSD

  • Drug tolerance levels – some people have low tolerance and tend to expel the drug faster

What Matters More? How Long Have You Been Taking Oxycodone?

If you have been using oxycodone regularly, a higher drug concentration can accumulate in fatty tissues. This means a longer period to get rid of the drug. When attempting oxycodone detox, this could be a crucial factor affecting the outcomes of the detox schedule.

What Matters More? Have You Been Using Alcohol Along with Oxycodone?

The effects of oxycodone and the time taken for the drug to comprehensively exit the body are affected if you have been consuming alcohol along with using oxycodone. Regularly using oxycodone and drinking can extend the time up to the drug can be found in the body.

What Matters Most? What Is the Half-Life of a Drug Like Oxycodone?

To know a bit more about how long a drug stays in the body, you have to know about the substance's half-life. In simple terms, the drug's half-life is actually its elimination half-life, and this is the time it takes for the drug's concentration to get halved or fall to 50% in the body. If the drug has a longer half-life, it will take longer to be eliminated from the body.

The half-life is sometimes a close estimate rather than an exact number, affected by the person's metabolism and the assumed excretion rate. While the half-life estimation is a common part of substance abuse treatment, and it can tell a lot about the duration up to which the drug's effects will be felt, it does not provide clarity about the drug's onset tie—how quickly it yields the pleasurable effects or the high.

  • The half-life of Oxycodone can be higher in people with liver dysfunction

  • A longer half-life means it will take longer for the body to expel oxycodone 

  • The Half-life of Oxycodone can be bigger in people with a kidney problem

Half-life is not always about accurate calculations. The total time it will take for the body to expel the drug does not mean the double half-life will always uphold as the answer. It might take more than one half-life to eliminate a drug. This is because everyone metabolizes a drug differently. In addition, the half-life itself can vary from person-to-person and even after two half-lives have elapsed, the drug might no longer show in the blood but still in the saliva or urine.

The half-life of some commonly abused opioid painkillers, including oxycodone:

  • Oxycodone: 3 to 5 hours

  • Fentanyl: 3 to 12 hours

  • Morphine: 1 to 7 hours

What is the half life of Oxycodone? This image describes the half life of Oxycodone

Understand Oxycodone Half-Life

Changing the drug's method can affect the onset time, but it is unlikely to change the half-life by much. In some cases, the half-life is methodically traced as a means to create an estimate about the worst of withdrawal symptoms peaking and crashing—vital for drug rehab specialists treating people with a long addiction history and the use of extremely addictive street drugs. Usually, drugs that have a smaller half-life, such as heroin, tend to trigger the withdrawal symptoms a bit sooner.

Some assume that a longer drug half-life means that the drug stays longer in the system and, therefore, it will be easier to show up in a drug test. However, this is not always the case. A longer half-life drug might not necessarily become easier to detect in a test. 

Understand Oxycodone Half-Life Variations

Immediate-release oxycodone formulations tend to have a slightly lower half-life of about 3 to 3.2 hours. This means an oxycodone user will take about 3 hours to expel about half the dose. In comparison, controlled-release and extended-release oxycodone formulations have a slightly longer half-life of up to 4.5 hours, which can be as high as 5.6 hours. 

Don't Risk an Oxycodone Overdose! Get Treated for Oxycodone Addiction at the Edge Treatment Center

Oxycodone can stay in your system long enough to develop an addiction. Opioid addiction is one of the deadliest forms of addiction. The Edge Treatment Center combines cutting-edge addiction science with proven evidence-based treatment to help you recover from oxycodone abuse safely and comfortably.

Our outpatient drug rehab will help you build a new life. Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more about our oxycodone addiction treatment programs and more.

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