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The Basics of Oxycodone Rehabilitation

This guide was written to provide an overview of the oxycodone rehabilitation process, as well as to offer helpful resources for individuals recovering from oxycodone addiction.

Oxycodone rehabilitation typically begins with a physical exam, questions about medical history and drug use, and testing for medical conditions related to opioid abuse. It’s not advised to suddenly stop long-term use of opioids, which can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, so treatment may begin by tapering drug use to reduce intake gradually. The tapering period varies by person and length of abuse and may be combined with medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms and shorten detox time.

Oxycodone addiction is a complex health condition that usually requires long-term treatment, including inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation. A residential substance abuse treatment program is usually recommended for severe and/or long-term oxycodone abuse. Comprehensive rehab programs include various behavioral therapies and counseling delivered individually or in a group setting. Ongoing support after program completion helps deter relapse and may be found in outpatient counseling and peer support groups such as SMART Recovery or Narcotics Anonymous.

Description of the Four Steps of the Rehab Process

For more information, read our guide to the rehab process.

What Makes Oxycodone Rehabilitation Difficult?

Opioid-based medications like oxycodone are Schedule II controlled substances because they’re approved for medical use but have a high potential for abuse that could cause physical and psychological dependence. In 2018, global consumption of oxycodone was 59.8 tons, with the greatest consumption occurring in the United States, which consumed 63.4% of the total. Other countries with notable consumption rates in descending order were Germany, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Spain.

Overcoming oxycodone addiction can be difficult due to physical dependence and lingering psychological addiction. Fear of severely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and/or returning pain can be a substantial block to quitting, even when someone is fully committed to stopping the use of the drug. Oxycodone abuse can also cause changes in the brain that may prompt intense drug cravings and depression, even after physical withdrawal symptoms disappear. These persisting afflictions can lead to relapse and a heightened risk of suicide. Relapse increases the risk of overdose because many people consume what they were previously taking, and their bodies aren’t used to this amount anymore.

The Unique Struggle of Oxycodone Addicts
  • creates euphoric feelings by tapping into the reward system in the brain, making it harder to quit and more likely to become addicted
  • use over long periods can cause tolerance, dependence, and addiction
  • addiction causes physical and mental dependence
  • withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially if stopping use abruptly
  • rehabilitation often requires medication-assisted treatment combined with behavioral therapies
  • causes changes in the brain that make it hard to stop using, even when someone wants to quit

Oxycodone Rehabilitation Statistics

Opiates Treatment Admissions by Gender

52.7% Male
47.3% Female

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates:

  • 26,392,000 people aged 12 or older – 9.6% of the population – used oxycodone products in 2018
  • 3,374,000 people aged 12 or older – 1.2% of the population – misused oxycodone products in 2018
  • 1,694,000 people aged 12 or older – 0.6% of the population – had some form of pain reliever use disorder in 2018
  • 33,301 people aged 12 or older – 2.3% of those admitted – were admitted for treatment for oxycodone addiction in 2017

Demographics of Individuals Seeking Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

According to a 2017 SAMHSA report that charts admissions to and discharges from publicly funded substance use treatment facilities, men are more likely to seek treatment for abuse of opiates other than heroin, including prescriptions containing opioids such as oxycodone. The gender breakdown of treatment admissions for opiates (not including heroin) was 52.7% male and 47.3% female. While opiate addiction occurs in all age groups, the most common age group admitted to a treatment facility for opiate use was individuals aged 25 to 34, with 35 being the average age of all individuals from all age groups who sought rehabilitation.

Opiates Treatment Admissions Percentages by Age Group, 2017
Age at the Time of Treatment Admission Percentage of Treatment Admissions for Other Opiates (not including Heroin)
12-17 .4%
18-24 10.4%
25 – 34 44.9%
35 – 44 25.4%
45-54 12.1%
55-64 5.9%
65+ 0.9%

Oxycodone Detoxification & Withdrawal Process

Since oxycodone is an opioid, it can change brain chemistry, and the body gets used to having it. When someone addicted to oxycodone stops taking it, their body can’t function properly, and withdrawal symptoms occur. Withdrawal is part of the detoxification process, which is the body’s way of getting rid of toxins. Tapering can help curb withdrawal symptoms, but they may still occur in varying degrees. The length and severity of withdrawal symptoms differ depending on how long the abuse lasted, dosage frequency, and the daily amount consumed. Opioid withdrawal can be dangerous and should be done under a doctor’s care.

The half-life of immediate-release oxycodone products is shorter than extended-release products like OxyContin. Early symptoms for immediate-release oxycodone will likely begin within 24 hours, while extended-release withdrawal symptoms take up to 30 hours. Initial symptoms can include a runny nose, watery eyes, sweating, muscle aches, frequent yawning, anxiety, and general feelings of discomfort.

Early symptoms may worsen as detox progresses, and new symptoms may occur after a day or two. Over the next several days, a person may experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, tremors, fatigue, high blood pressure, insomnia, increased sensitivity to pain, depression, and severe drug cravings. It can take days or weeks for the withdrawal process to run its course. Many symptoms improve after the first week or so, but others may linger, especially anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and cravings.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Body Mind
Short-Term Symptoms Headaches
Watery eyes
Muscle aches
Profuse sweating
Frequent yawning
Flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, chills, etc.)
General feelings of discomfort
Mood swings
Long-Term Symptoms Nausea and/or vomiting
Stomach cramps
Decreased appetite
Higher sensitivity to pain
Shivering and chills
Rapid heartbeat
High blood pressure
Muscle, joint, and bone pain
Drug cravings
Severe depression
Drug cravings

Some oxycodone withdrawal systems can pose a danger

Frequent vomiting may lead to aspiration, which occurs when a person breathes stomach contents or gastric acid into their lungs. Aspiration can cause choking and, in some cases, lung infections, pneumonia, and respiratory distress. Vomiting with or without diarrhea also can cause a person to become dehydrated, which can lead to other health issues, such as urinary and kidney problems, low blood pressure, and seizures.

Complications of oxycodone withdrawal include overdose risk

The most common complication of oxycodone withdrawal occurs when a person relapses and begins taking the drug again, especially if their tolerance level has already decreased. Most opioid overdose deaths occur in people who’ve recently detoxed. During withdrawal, the body rids itself of opioids and tolerance drops. If a person relapses, they generally take the same amount they took before they quit, and now their body can’t handle it. Overdose is likely, which can cause death without immediate attention.

Oxycodone withdrawal also increases the risk of suicide

Under a doctor’s care, the physical symptoms during withdrawal usually aren’t dangerous, but the psychological impact can be potentially life-threatening. Severe depression is a common side effect, even after withdrawal symptoms cease, and this can lead to thoughts of suicide. Some people are at greater risk of suicide after they stop taking oxycodone no matter how long they took it, but suicide risk increases the longer someone took the drug before quitting.

Oxycodone Detoxification Medications

Several medications have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration to assist with oxycodone detoxification, which is called medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Doctors may prescribe buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone to block the euphoric effects of oxycodone, reduce withdrawal symptoms, relieve drug cravings, and normalize brain chemistry. They also may prescribe clonidine or lofexidine to treat specific withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and insomnia.

For more information about withdrawal, read our guide on Oxycodone Addiction.

Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction

No single treatment for oxycodone addiction works for everyone, but it’s treatable. Different forms of behavioral therapies and counseling in conjunction with medication-assisted treatment provide a comprehensive treatment plan. Counseling and behavioral therapies may take place in inpatient and/or outpatient settings. MAT has been proven safe and effective during treatment and may even help reverse some of the changes in the brain caused by opioid addiction and help sustain recovery.

Rehabilitation Settings

Within either an inpatient or outpatient setting, treatments such as detoxification services, behavioral therapies, and medication-assisted treatments are offered for varying lengths of time.

Inpatient treatment involves living full-time (including overnight) at a treatment facility for a set period of time. Outpatient treatment involves scheduled appointments at a facility in which you are free to come and go. Within each category, there are several distinctions.

Oxycodone Treatment Programs
Setting Type of Treatment Description Duration Time Commitment
Inpatient Short-Term Residential Intensive treatment, sometimes in a hospital setting. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:
Long-Term Residential Intensive treatment in a non-hospital setting, most often a therapeutic community with other patients. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-12 months Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:
Partial Hospitalization Intensive treatment in a hospital setting. Patients do not stay overnight. Considered inpatient due to the hospital setting. Extensive services are provided and require a near full-time commitment every week. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 14-30 days Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:
Outpatient Intensive Day Treatment Extensive services of an inpatient program but patients return home each day following treatment. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Therapies offered are extensive. Medication-assisted treatment is available to those who qualify. 3-4 months Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:
Counseling Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. Therapies offered are moderate. Medication-assisted treatment is not available. As long as desired Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:
Support Groups Self-help groups center on maintaining abstinence after another form of treatment. Typically meet one day a week for 1-2 hours. As long as desired Hours Per Day:
Days Per Week:

Behavioral and Medication-Assisted Therapies

Behavioral therapy for substance addiction seeks to identify and manage addictive behaviors that lead to use and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapy is based on the concept that all behavior is learned, and, thus, unhealthy behavior can be changed through learning coping skills and increasing awareness of negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to substance abuse.

MAT may be used throughout oxycodone addiction treatment and recovery. Medical professionals may prescribe some medications during detox, such as buprenorphine and methadone, to help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Naltrexone may be prescribed after detox to block the euphoric effects of opioids and to help prevent relapse. MAT medications are effective when taken appropriately.

Behavioral Therapies for Librium Addiction
Type of Therapy Definition
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Further reading:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy increases awareness of how thoughts, feelings, and actions impact recovery and provides the coping strategies to manage triggers that make a person more likely to use oxycodone.

Several CBT techniques are used to treat Librium addiction and other substance use disorders. One of these techniques, known as a motivational interviewing, helps individuals explore why they’re ambivalent about stopping their Librium use. This technique aims to help individuals change their behavior, making it more likely that a user will comply with other treatment approaches.

Contingency Management and Motivational Incentives

Further reading:

Contingency Management and motivational incentives utilize positive reinforcement, including rewards for participating in counseling and staying drug-free, while encouraging individuals to become internally motivated to turn bad behaviors into healthy ones.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Further reading:

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is a form of CBT and short-term psychotherapy that helps individuals identify self-defeating feelings and thoughts and replace them with healthier, productive behavior.
12-Step Facilitation Therapy

Further reading:

12-Step Facilitation Therapy is an outpatient peer support program that helps participants learn to cope with their oxycodone addiction and avoid relapse triggers while following the guidelines of a 12-step self-help plan.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Oxycodone Addiction
Type of Medication for Treatment Definition
Partial Agonist Drugs

Further reading:

Partial agonist drugs containing buprenorphine, such as Suboxone or Subutex, decrease oxycodone withdrawal symptoms and potentially shorten the length of detox. They target the same area of the brain as opioids without making a person high and can be used for long-term maintenance to suppress oxycodone cravings.
Agonist Drugs

Further reading:

Agonist drugs such as methadone can be used to replace oxycodone, working in the same area of the brain without the high. They can help decrease withdrawal symptoms and oxycodone cravings and be used for long-term maintenance to prevent relapse.
Antagonist Drugs

Further reading:

Antagonist drugs containing naltrexone such as Vivitrol are the chemical opposite of opioids that dull the euphoric effects of oxycodone, taking away the reason for abusing the drug. They can also help restore chemical balance in the brain when taken long-term.
Medications for Specific Symptoms

Further reading:

Drugs such as clonidine and lofexidine can help reduce the physical symptoms that occur during withdrawal, including anxiety, cramping, runny nose, and muscle aches, but they won’t reduce cravings. Other symptoms may be addressed with over-the-counter or prescription medications that target specific issues, such as insomnia, depression, diarrhea, and vomiting.

How to Find Help

Finding a Rehabilitation Center for Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone is a powerful pain-relieving medication with benefits and potentially serious risks. When used as prescribed, it can safely and effectively manage moderate to severe pain, but it also can be highly addictive. Long-term use can cause a person to build up a tolerance and take ever-increasing doses. Tolerance can result in physical dependence, which can lead to physical and mental addiction.

A reputable rehabilitation center can help individuals overcome an oxycodone addiction through a customized treatment approach. Comprehensive treatment and recovery plans should combine medication-assisted treatment with various behavioral therapies and counseling. Programs may include inpatient and/or outpatient services and continuing care through long-term MAT to prevent relapse and peer support groups to help sustain life-long recovery.

Our Directory

Our directory of rehab programs includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, price, and location.