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How long oxycodone stays in your system depends on several individual factors. Knowing how long oxycodone stays in your system can be important for a few reasons, such as for your safety and health. If a dose is taken before a previous dose has fully left the system, there is an increased potential for an overdose. Another reason to know is when people are getting ready for a drug screening and wondering if the tests detect previously consumed oxycodone.
Oxycodone is an opioid medication used to treat acute and chronic pain. It is available as extended- or immediate-release formulations and sometimes combined with other medicines, like acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Common brand names include:
While oxycodone can be prescribed and is classified as a Schedule II medication under the Controlled Substances Act, it is also sold illegally. Common street names include:
Oxycodone affects the brain and central nervous system. When someone takes oxycodone, it activates opioid receptors in the central nervous system. This process changes how the brain senses and emotionally responds to pain. Oxycodone causes the central nervous system to slow down, which controls important functions, including heart rate and breathing. If someone uses a dose of oxycodone that’s more than their central nervous system can handle, the slowdown effect may lead to an overdose or death.
When someone takes oxycodone, it also increases the dopamine levels in the brain. The dopamine boost from oxycodone is one reason it’s addictive. Dopamine can create pleasurable feelings or a euphoric high, which can trigger the brain’s reward cycle and lead to addiction.
The half-life of a drug refers to how long it takes a dose to reduce by half in the bloodstream. After one half-life, the concentration of a drug will be half the original dose. So, what’s the half-life of oxycodone? On average, it is around 3.5 to 5.5 hours. It takes several half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the system. Within 20 hours, an average person’s body may have no oxycodone left in it.
However, oxycodone leaves behind metabolites that linger after the drug leaves the system. Some drug tests can detect metabolites, so the use of oxycodone may be detectable for longer than 20 hours.
The amount of time oxycodone can be detected by a drug test varies depending on the type of test used. Other factors affecting the drug testing timeline include age, weight, liver or kidney function, and how often you use oxycodone.
Blood testing is accurate. However, it also requires trained personnel and can be more expensive than other drug screening methods. When blood testing is used, this type of drug test can detect oxycodone for three to six hours after ingestion.
Urine drug screening is very commonly used because it is not as invasive as a blood test while remaining accurate. When a urine drug test is used, oxycodone is detectable for one to three days.
Like urine testing, saliva testing is not invasive and does not require trained personnel. However, it is not as accurate as blood and urine tests because many variables can affect the accuracy of this test, including how you ingest oxycodone, the use of other products like mouthwash or saliva production. Because of these and other variables, it is used less often than urine testing.
Hair testing can determine exposure to oxycodone in the last 90 days, but it does not show current intoxication.
The speed of metabolism for oxycodone depends on factors like an individual’s metabolism, overall health and kidney and liver function.
How is oxycodone metabolized? When someone takes a dose of oxycodone, the liver breaks it into noroxycodone, noroxymorphone and oxymorphone. Then these substances are excreted via the kidneys through urine. Some oxycodone is excreted through sweat.
So based on the half-life and the speed of metabolism for oxycodone, how long can it show up in a drug screening? In a urine test, oxycodone may be detectable for three to four days after use. In a blood test, detection times may be up to 24 hours, and in a saliva test, detection times usually range from one to four days.
Your age can impact how quickly your body metabolizes oxycodone and your sensitivity to the effect of oxycodone. For this reason, if oxycodone is prescribed, it should be a short course and at the lowest dose needed.
Genetics play a major role in oxycodone metabolism. Genetic variations can mean that one person may need a higher dose to get the same effect while a different person could need less.
Weight can influence how much effect oxycodone has on you. While it is important to always discuss questions about your dose with your healthcare provider or pharmacist, in general, people with lower weight may need less oxycodone to be effective.
After one dose of oxycodone, females were shown to have 20–25% more oxycodone in the blood than males. This means women may need a smaller amount than men to experience the same effects.
Kidney and liver health can affect the metabolism and excretion of oxycodone. For people with mild to moderate kidney or liver impairment, oxycodone and its metabolites can accumulate. This means that the body may not be as efficient at removing oxycodone or its metabolite, and future doses can begin to accumulate.
Oxycodone is available in several formulations, including several immediate- and extended-release varieties. The extended-release formulations are created to slowly release so that each dose lasts longer, which can be helpful for chronic pain. In contrast, the immediate-release formulations release more quickly and can be beneficial for breakthrough pain.
There are many signs of addiction to opioids like oxycodone, including:
Are you struggling with an oxycodone addiction? If so, you aren’t alone. While the drug can feel like it’s taking over your life, addiction treatment can help you attain a healthier future. Contact a Recovery Advocate to learn how our treatment plans cater to each patient’s individual needs.
Drugs.com. “Oxycodone Monograph for Professionals.” March 20, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2023.
Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Agency. “Oxycodone Drug Fact Sheet.” April 2020. Accessed May 24, 2023.
ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” September 2022. Accessed May 24, 2023.
Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P.; Mitchell, Shannon G.; O’Grady, Kevin E.; & Ondersma, Steven J. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, August 1, 2015. Accessed May 25, 2023.
Dydyk, Alexander M.; Jain, Nitesh K; & Gupta, Mohit. “Opioid Use Disorder.” StatPearls, June 21, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2023.
DrugBank. “Oxycodone.” Updated June 29th, 2023. Accessed June 30, 2023.
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