Detecting Oxycodone: How Long Does It Stay in Your System?

“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.” ~ Russell Brand

Oxycodone, also known as OxyContin©, is an opioid medication that our Palm Springs drug rehab healthcare professionals typically prescribe to treat patients with daily moderate to severe pain.1 If you have recently taken oxycodone or are considering starting this medication, you may have an important question: How long does oxycodone stay in your system?  

The length of time that oxycodone remains detectable in your system will depend on several factors, such as the dosage, gender, frequency of use, metabolism, and weight. However, there are a few general guidelines on how long common drug tests can detect oxycodone in your system:

  • Blood test: Up to 24 hours2
  • Hair follicle test: 90 days3
  • Saliva test: One to two days4
  • Urine test: Two to four days5  

How Long Is Oxycodone Detectable in Drug Tests?

You may be required to take a drug test—also known as a toxicology screen—for several reasons, including court orders, employment requirements, legal purposes, and organized sports.6 Your physician may also request that you complete a drug test as a safety check to ensure that you adhere to your prescribed medication regimen.  

If you use oxycodone, you may wonder how long it will take for the drug to completely exit your system and no longer be detectable by a drug test.

Immediate-release oxycodone has a half-life of approximately 3.2 hours.1 In other words, after 3.2 hours, 50% of the original drug has been metabolized and removed from your body. OxyContin© is an extended-release version of oxycodone with a longer half-life of 4.5 hours.

After four to five half-lives, research shows that 94 to 97% of a drug will be eliminated from your system.7 However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that drug tests can no longer detect oxycodone after this period. Instead, the length of time that drug tests will test positive for oxycodone depends on several factors, such as the type of test you take.

Laboratories can use four different types of drug tests to check for oxycodone: blood testing, hair follicle testing, saliva testing, and urine testing. Each of these tests can detect oxycodone for a different range of time.

You can also use an at-home drug testing kit that allows you to collect and test your saliva or urine. These at-home tests will provide fast results from the comfort of your home.

Urine Testing

Laboratories and physicians often use urine drug monitoring to test for the presence of opioids like oxycodone. During a urine test, you will typically be asked to go into a bathroom and collect at least 30 mL of urine in a sample cup. Generally, testers do not observe the collection process to ensure your privacy.

Urine drug monitoring can detect oxycodone in your system for two to four days after ingestion.

Blood Testing

During a blood test, a healthcare provider will use a needle to draw a small blood sample from one of your arm veins. These tests are quick and relatively painless, with most patients typically only feeling a mild sting during the needle insertion.

Blood tests can detect the presence of oxycodone in your system in the first 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion. The drug remains detectable in your blood for up to 24 hours. 2

Saliva Testing

Saliva testing uses oral fluid to detect drugs in your system.4 Typically, the test administrator will place a device with a soft collection pad under your tongue to collect your saliva. Many institutions, like clinics and universities, prefer saliva testing because this method makes collecting fluid samples convenient and easy.

Generally, saliva tests can detect the presence of oxycodone in your system from minutes after consumption to up to 48 hours.  

Hair Follicle Testing

Hair follicle testing is a convenient and painless method to detect long-term use of oxycodone and other opioids.8 During this test, a health care professional will remove a small amount of hair (approximately 200 strands) from the top of your head to analyze. Hair follicle testing is most effective for people with hair longer than one-half inch.

Hair follicle testing can detect oxycodone for up to 90 days after ingestion. However, this method may be less effective at determining if oxycodone is present in your body than urine testing. 

What Factors Affect How Long Oxycodone Stays in Your System?

The length of time that oxycodone remains in your system depends on several factors. Remember that no two people have the exact same physiology. These variations can impact how quickly your body metabolizes medications, so there is no definitive formula to determine precisely how long oxycodone will stay in your system.

Factors that can impact how long oxycodone stays in your system include: 1

  • Age: Concentrations of oxycodone in blood plasma are 15% higher in elderly patients.
  • Drug Interactions: Some drugs, such as the cardiovascular medicine quinidine and polycyclic anti-depressants, can affect your body’s ability to metabolize oxycodone. Always consult your physician before starting a new medication to ensure that it won’t cause harmful drug-drug interactions. 
  • Gender: Women have oxycodone blood plasma concentrations up to 25% higher than men, even when accounting for body weight.
  • Liver Impairment: The liver plays a vital role in processing and clearing medications, so any conditions affecting this organ will impact how long it takes to clear medications from your system. For instance, one study found that people with mild to moderate hepatic impairment had 50% higher concentrations of blood oxycodone plasma than people with normal hepatic function. Additionally, for patients with hepatic dysfunction, the half-life of oxycodone increased by 2.3 hours, meaning that the drug remains in your system for longer.
  • Kidney Impairment: Like the liver, the kidneys help your body metabolize medications. As a result, renal impairment will also influence how long it takes for oxycodone to leave your system. One study reported that patients with mild to severe renal impairment had 50% higher concentrations of oxycodone than people with normal kidneys. Moreover, renal impairment can increase the half-life of elimination by one hour. 

Can Other Substances Cause a False Positive for Oxycodone?

While drug tests can help detect substances like oxycodone, they are not perfect tools. In some cases, drug tests may not be sensitive enough to detect small amounts of oxycodone in your system, giving a false negative result. In other cases, another substance can cause a false positive for oxycodone.

Substances that can cause you to falsely test positive for oxycodone include:9

  • Quinolone antibiotics
  • Poppy seeds
  • Rifampin

However, research shows that false tests for oxycodone are exceedingly rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases.10

If you believe you have falsely tested positive for oxycodone, you should request additional testing to verify that you have not taken the medication.  

Talk to a recovery specialist today to find out how.

How Long Do the Effects of Oxycodone Last?

The length of time that oxycodone affects your body will depend on the method you use to ingest it. Common methods of administering oxycodone include:

  • Injection: Oxycodone users may dissolve tablets in water and inject this solution into their veins. This process will cause the drug to start acting more quickly than ingesting it as a tablet. Still, the amount of the medication that is released will be much more unpredictable, potentially leading to dangerous side effects.11
  • Intranasal ingestion: Oxycodone can be ingested intranasally by grinding the tablets into a fine powder and snorting it. Like injection, this method accelerates the release of the active ingredient, causing you to feel the effects of the medication within minutes.12
  • Swallowing capsules or tablets: Generally, you will start feeling the effects of immediate-release oxycodone within 10 to 30 minutes of ingestion. The controlled-release formula will start working in one hour.13

Swallowing whole capsules or tablets is the only approved method of ingesting oxycodone. Injecting and snorting oxycodone bypasses the delivery mechanisms built into the medication. As a result, you will receive an uncontrolled drug dose, potentially leading to severe consequences like overdose and death.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term side effects of taking oxycodone include:13

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea or abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Pain relief: Immediate-release oxycodone capsules or tablets will help with pain relief for three to six hours after ingestion, while the controlled-release version lasts around 12 hours.
  • Photosensitivity
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Signs of an Oxycodone Addiction

Are you concerned about how long oxycodone will stay in your system, or are you nervous about taking a drug test due to your use of oxycodone? If so, these could be signs that you may have a substance use disorder.

Other symptoms of a substance use disorder include:14

  • Consuming larger amounts of oxycodone than prescribed or taking the medication for longer than your doctor has ordered
  • Neglecting your family, job, or other responsibilities because of your use of oxycodone
  • Needing to take increasingly larger quantities of oxycodone to experience pain relief or pleasure
  • Wanting to reduce your consumption of oxycodone but being unable to stop

Find the Best Rehab

If you believe you may have a substance use disorder, you don’t need to feel afraid or alone. Many rehabilitation options can help you break the cycle of oxycodone use and lead a happier, healthier life.

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities can involve short-term or long-term treatment.15 These programs immerse you in a supportive community and help you develop strategies for altering unhealthy drug usage patterns.

Outpatient treatment programs can also teach you methods to overcome a substance use disorder. One of the biggest advantages of these programs is that they allow you to keep your job and maintain other responsibilities while receiving treatment.

Want to learn more about finding the best rehab?  Call our helpline today to speak to a recovery specialist about treatment options.

Resources 

  1. Federal Drug Administration. OxyContin HCI Label.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014, July). Oxycodone and Hydrocodone: Detection in Urine, Oral Fluid, and Blood.
  3. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. (2015, November/December). The Disposition of Oxycodone and Metabolite in Human Hair.
  4. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory. Laboratory Testing Reference Guide.
  5. Federal Practitioner. (2018, April). A Practical Guide to Urine Drug Monitoring.
  6. Medline Plus. Drug Testing.
  7. National Library of Medicine. (2022, June). Half Life.
  8. Drug Alcohol Depend. (2019, May). A Comparison of the Utility of Urine- and Hair Testing in Detecting Self-Reported Drug Use Among Young Adult Opioid Users.
  9. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. (2012, July). Toxicologic Testing for Opiates: Understanding False-Positive and False-Negative Test Results.
  10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Clinical Drug Testing in Primary Care.
  11.  National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Benefits and Risks of Pharmaceutical Opioids: Essential Treatment and Diverted Medication.
  12. Clinical Drug Investigation. (2013). Pharmacokinetics, Tolerability, and Safety of Intranasal Administration of Reformulated OxyContin© Tablets Compared with Original OxyContin© Tablets in Healthy Adults.
  13. National Library of Medicine. (2022, March). Oxycodone.
  14. DSM Library. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.
  15. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Types of Treatment Programs.

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