Oxycodone is a prescription drug that medical professionals prescribe for acute or chronic pain. The effects last for a few hours, but the form can have important effects on how long drugs last.
“Oxy” is sold in the generic form, under the brand name OxyContin, and in combination with acetaminophen as Percocet. All are considered Schedule II controlled substances.
Oxycodone is similar to many other opioids, but each is derived from different substances. For example, oxycodone is derived from thebaine, while hydrocodone is derived from codeine.
While these prescription medications have important medical uses, there is a high potential for abuse with oxycodone which comes with a risk of physical dependence and oxycodone addiction.
How Long Oxycodone Lasts
Oxycodone comes in two formulations: immediate-release and extended-release. Both have distinct onsets of action and overall duration of effects.
Immediate-release oxycodone starts to work about 10 to 30 minutes after you take it, and the effects of the drug can last between three and six hours.
Immediate-release pills come in doses ranging from 5 milligrams (mg) to 30 mg.
Extended-release or controlled-release oxycodone starts to work about an hour after you take it, and the effects last up to 12 hours.
However, according to a 2016 investigation by the Los Angeles Times, oxycodone is more likely to wear off before the next prescribed dose, which can produce cravings and encourage abuse.
Extended-release pills come in strengths between 10 mg and 80 mg.
How Does Oxycodone Work?
Semi-synthetic prescription opioids like oxycodone, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and opiates like morphine all work by binding to opioid receptors in your brain.
When these drugs are used repeatedly, the brain reduces its normal production of hormones like dopamine to maintain homeostasis. The result is often drug tolerance.
Someone who develops a tolerance to a prescription drug like oxycodone or an illicit one like heroin will have to take a higher dose of the drug to get the same effect.
Regardless of why a person may use a higher dose of oxycodone, the change in dosage will not elongate the drug’s perceived effects. It will only take longer for the body to process.
The only factor that significantly contributes to the duration of oxycodone’s effects is the method of drug abuse.
When Oxycodone Takes Effect
When taken in pill form, immediate-release oxycodone starts working in 30 to 60 minutes. People who abuse the drug often experiment with different methods to decrease the time to onset.
Oxycodone tablets are often crushed, heated, and inhaled as a vapor. Some people may also crush pills and snort them or dissolve the pills in water and inject them intravenously.
Using the nasal passages, lungs, or veins as routes of administration dramatically decreases the time of onset, so people experience the high sooner than when they swallow a pill.
How Long Do The Side Effects Of Oxycodone Last?
Oxycodone has similar side effects to other opioid drugs. Some are short-term but others can have long-term consequences.
Short-Term Oxycodone Effects
The short-term effects of taking oxycodone usually only last as long as the drug is in your system (anywhere from three to 12 hours).
Common short-term side effects can include:
- dry mouth
More severe side effects may include respiratory depression, skin rash, and even hallucinations.
Long-Term Oxycodone Effects
Long-term use of oxycodone can affect your body in ways that are still being discovered.
What researchers do know is that opioid-induced respiratory depression can cause a condition called hypoxia where not enough oxygen reaches the central nervous system.
This can have long-term effects both neurologically and psychologically.
Other long-term effects of hypoxia can include:
- permanent brain damage
Long-term abuse of oxycodone can also lead to a non-fatal or fatal drug overdose. It can also lead to uncomfortable opioid withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly quit taking it.
How Long Can A Drug Test Detect Oxycodone?
How long oxycodone stays in your system can depend on how much you have taken and what the half-life of the drug is.
In general, oxycodone urine tests will detect the presence of prescription opioids like oxycodone, Roxicet, or noroxycodone within one to three hours from the last dose.
However, these tests are usually designed to detect opioid metabolites, which can be present for several days, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Blood tests and saliva tests can detect oxycodone for 15 to 30 minutes after the last dose, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Detection times in saliva last much longer than in blood, but hair follicle tests can hold traces of the drug for as long as 90 days.
The Half-Life Of Oxycodone
The half-life of oxycodone is about three to five hours, so depending on how much you take, it can be out of your system relatively quickly.
The average time is between 15 and 30 hours, but the metabolites will continue to show up on drug tests for another day or two.
FAQs On Oxycodone And How Long It Lasts
If you want to know more about oxycodone and how long it lasts, please review the frequently asked questions below.
Can You Build A Tolerance To Oxycodone?
Yes, you can build a tolerance to oxycodone and other opioids. This is why healthcare professionals try to limit the amount of time you spend on prescription opioids like hydrocodone or morphine.
What Happens If You Take Too Much Oxycodone?
If you take too much oxycodone or any other opioid drug, you could experience an opioid overdose.
Oxycodone overdose symptoms can include abdominal spasms, pinpoint pupils, low blood pressure, low heart rate, drowsiness, coma, and death.
How Long Will Oxycodone Make You Feel Sleepy?
Oxycodone will only affect you as long as it stays in your system. The effect of it can last between four and 12 hours depending on the formulation you take.
Find Addiction Treatment For Oxycodone Abuse Today
If you are battling an opioid addiction, you can find a treatment center that offers drug-specific treatment programs in your region.
If you find the treatment options for opioid abuse confusing, call our helpline. We can assist you or your loved one in determining what recovery program is best for you.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Center for Addiction and Mental Health (Canada)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Los Angeles Times
- National Center for Biotechnology Information
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration