Oxycodone is a potent opioid often prescribed for pain relief, sold under various brand names. However, this Schedule II prescription pain medication can result in severe substance abuse and dependence for some users. Opioid misuse has risen significantly in the past two decades, and these drugs are now the most commonly abused class of prescription medications. As reported by the FDA, oxycodone can be abused like other legal or illegal opioids, and once an addiction develops, professional help may be required.
When individuals seek oxycodone addiction treatment, drug tests are performed regularly. The goal is to ensure a patient’s safety while increasing their chances of success. So, how long does oxycodone remain in your system? Here’s what you need to know.
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How Long Does Oxycodone Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, or Hair?
Lab testing for the presence of oxycodone plays a crucial role in the detection of opioid misuse and opioid intoxication. Urine testing is the primary method. When testing for oxycodone via a urine sample, a minimum of 30 ml of urine is typically required. Blood, saliva, or hair testing methods are also available but not as common.
Testing for drugs using urine can be done using two methods: presumptive by immunoassay (IA) and confirmatory testing by chromatography.
The IA test uses antibodies to detect the presence of select drugs and their metabolites. This method is quick and inexpensive. However, it can lead to false negatives and false positives. Depending on the dose of oxycodone, it may not be detected by an opiate IA test.
For example, when testing for opioid use, structural differences matter. When comparing oxycodone and morphine, oxycodone has a reduced affinity for commonly used antibodies. More than a 6-fold higher concentration of oxycodone is required to achieve a positive screening with many opioid IA tests compared with morphine.
Chromatography is reserved for definitive testing.
Since drugs are rapidly metabolized and eliminated, blood offers a brief detection window. When testing for drugs using blood tests, substances can be detected within minutes to hours, compared to days when using a urine test.
Hair follicle tests provide the longest detection window, allowing the test between 7-10 days after drug use and three months. This method is costly and time-consuming, and few labs are available to perform testing.
Results may also be biased by hair color, as dark hair contains more of some basic drugs, including opioids, because of enhanced binding to melanin in the hair. If you want to detect chronic drug use or determine a pattern of drug use, this is an ideal choice under the right circumstances.
Saliva tests are less common, even though this method is convenient and minimally invasive. Saliva contains either the original drug compound or its metabolite for 24-48 hours after the last dose.
The window for accurate detection is smaller than urine, which is often why urine samples are collected instead of saliva samples.
What Can Affect How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your Body?
Oxycodone and its metabolites are excreted mainly by the kidneys. Kidney function impacts how well your body breaks down oxycodone.
The length of time oxycodone stays in your body will depend on several factors, including:
- The dosage
- Your weight and speed of metabolism
- How often are doses administered?
- The method of administration (e.g., orally, intravenously, snorting, etc.)
- The presence of other substances
- Medical conditions affecting drug elimination
Oxycodone is marketed as OxyContin® in 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg extended-release versions and other immediate-release capsules like 5 mg OxyIR®. If you take increasingly larger doses than your prescribed dose or are taking oxycodone more often than recommended, the drug may be detectable for longer.
The only way to entirely eliminate oxycodone from the body is to stop taking the drug. However, you should never abruptly discontinue use without seeking medical advice. Oxycodone withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, and the withdrawal process can be dangerous under select circumstances.
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How Is Oxycodone Detected on Drug Tests?
As discussed above, the most common testing method is a urine test. If oxycodone is the drug in question, it can be detected as soon as 1-3 hours after taking it — unlike methadone, which is detectable between 3-8 hours after it’s taken.
The type of test chosen will depend on several variables. For example, an IA test is easy to use and fast, but it cannot differentiate between natural opiates. In comparison, a chromatography test can differentiate all opioids. This option is very specific, minimizing false negatives and false positives.
Recommended reading: 10 essential documentaries on the opioid crisis
What Is the Half-Life of Oxycodone?
When taking oxycodone, the onset of action is between 10 and 30 minutes for the immediate-release formation and around 1 hour for controlled release. The plasma half-life of oxycodone is 3-5 hours. However, stable plasma levels are reached within 24-36 hours.
How quickly this drug is metabolized depends on what tablets are taken. For example, the elimination half-life of oxycodone following the administration of OxyContin® is 4.5 hours compared to 3.2 hours for immediate-release oxycodone.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Oxycodone to Wear Off?
When testing urine, the detection window will vary depending on the drug. For example, oxycodone is detectable in urine for 2-4 days. This window is relatively short compared to other drugs, such as long-acting benzodiazepines, which are detectable for 10-30 days.
After taking oxycodone orally, the onset of action is 10-30 minutes for the immediate-release formulation and about 1 hour for controlled release. When taking the extended-release forms, a second release occurs around seven hours later. When you first begin taking this drug, it will take about 24-36 hours to reach steady levels in your bloodstream.
Approximately 8-14% of a regular dose is excreted as free oxycodone over 24 hours after taking the drug. A urine test can then detect the presence of oxycodone for 2-4 days. The primary metabolites are oxymorphone and noroxycodone.
Whether you’re ready to seek help for your struggles with oxycodone or want to help a loved one, Zinnia Health can help. Please contact our professional team or call us at the following phone number — (855) 430-9439.