ARTICLE OVERVIEW: OxyContin is a sustained, controlled-release formulation of oxycodone. OxyContin is designed to provide delivery of oxycodone over 12 hours and can be detected in urine 1-3 days after you take it, in blood for 15 to 20 minutes from the time of ingestion, and in hair for 1 month up to 3 months after dosing. Does the extended release formula affect elimination time? And how are drug tests designed to detect OxyContin in the body? More on the peak levels, half life, and detection times for OxyContin below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Peak Levels
- OxyContin Drug Testing
- At Home Tests
- How to Use an At Home Test
- Efficacy of At Home Tests
- Problems with OxyContin?
OxyContin, a trade name for the narcotic “oxycodone hydrochloride”, is a painkiller available by prescription only. OxyContin is legitimately prescribed for relief of moderate to severe pain resulting from injuries, bursitis, neuralgia, arthritis, and cancer. Individuals abuse OxyContin for the euphoric effect it produces—an effect similar to that associated with heroin use.
The main ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, is a pure agonist opioid whose principal therapeutic action is analgesia (pain relief). With pure opioid agonist analgesics, there is no defined maximum dose; the ceiling to analgesic effectiveness is imposed only by side effects, the more serious of which may include somnolence and respiratory depression.
OxyContin is prescribed in doses of 10-80 mg daily, and is to be taken orally as a tablet. Is available as a 10 milligram (mg), 20 mg, 40 mg, or 80 mg tablet. The tablets vary in color and size according to dosage. The tablets are imprinted with the letters OC on one side and the number of milligrams on the opposite side.
People who abuse OxyContin cut, break, chew, crush, or dissolve OxyContin. But this type of use leads to rapid immediate release of oxycodone in the body and can lead to overdose or death. The potency of OxyContin is about equal to morphine. People, who take OxyContin to get high, for the euphoric effects, are most likely to become addicted to OxyContin. Anyone who takes OxyContin in ways other that prescribed (cut, broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved) or without a prescription is at risk of becoming addicted to the drug.
The peak level of a drug is the highest level of a medicine in the body. Peak levels are compared with trough levels, which are the lowest concentration of the medicine in the body. These two indicators help doctors monitor drug use and adjust prescriptions accordingly.
OxyContin tablets achieve maximal blood level peak concentrations at about three hours after dosing, compared with 1-1.5 hours for immediate release oral oxycodone. Peak and trough concentrations of oxycodone from OxyContin tablets 10 mg administered 12-hourly are similar to those achieved from immediate release oxycodone 5 mg administered once every 6 hours. Dose proportionality has been established for the 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg and 80mg tablet strengths for both peak plasma concentrations and extent of absorption.
Compared with morphine (absolute bioavailability of approximately 30%), oxycodone has a high absolute bioavailability of up to 87% following oral administration. But what affects its absorption?
Recent fasted and fed studies for OxyContin 10, 40 and 80 mg tablets indicate that food has no significant effect on the extent of absorption of oxycodone from OxyContin tablets. Following absorption, oxycodone is distributed throughout the entire body. Oxycodone has also been found in breast milk.
A medicine’s half-life is how long it takes for half of the dose to be eliminated from the bloodstream. In medical terms, the half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the plasma concentration of a drug to reach half of its original concentration.
The mean apparent half-life of OxyContin tablets is 6.5 hours and steady-state is achieved in about one day. As a comparison, oxycodone has an elimination half-life of approximately three hours and is metabolized in the liver. From this comparison, we can see how OxyContin is truly an extended release version of oxycodone, as it take the body nearly twice as long to eliminate half of the drug from the system.
OxyContin Drug Testing
Typically, drug screens for OxyContin are urine based. Initial screening uses an immunoassay method to identify the presence of oxycodone. Then, a second confirmatory test is required unless a positive result has been expected or drug use is disclosed. Confirmatory drug tests use gas chromatography/mass spectrometry or liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS or LC/MS/MS) to verify a presumptive positive result.
The recommended cutoff level for oxycodone is 100 ng/mL, below the standard opioid assay cutoff level of 300 ng/ml.
Blood Sample Test
In the blood, oxycodone can be detected within 15 to 20 minutes from the time of ingestion. The concentration reaches its peak within 1 hour, but remains detectable at a constant concentration for up to 1 day.
Hair Sample Test
Oxycodone can also be detected in hair follicles for up to 1 month, sometimes up to 3 months. Detection through hair testing is quite expensive and reliable for routine drug testing.
Urine Sample Tests
The oxycodone contained in OxyContin can be detected in urine for 1-3 days. Oxycodone is metabolized to oxymorphone, so these may both be present in the urine of oxycodone users.
At Home Tests
At home drug tests for OxyContin typically indicate if one or more prescription or illegal drugs are present in urine. These tests detect the presence of drugs such oxycodone. The testing is done in two steps. First, you do a quick at-home test. Second, if the test suggests that drugs may be present, you send the sample to a laboratory for additional testing. Take no serious actions until you get the laboratory’s result. Many factors may cause a false positive result in the home test.
In fact, no drug test of this type is 100% accurate. There are several factors that can make the test results negative even though the person is abusing drugs. First, you may have tested for the wrong drugs. On the other hand, you may not have tested the urine when it contained drugs.
It takes time for drugs like OxyContin to appear in the urine after a person takes them, and they do not stay in the urine indefinitely; you may have collected the urine too late or too soon. It is also possible that the chemicals in the test went bad because they were stored incorrectly or they passed their expiration date.
An at home drug test usually contains:
- A sample collection cup.
- A test strip, a test card, a test cassette, or other method for testing.
- An instruction leaflet or booklet.
It is very important that the person doing the test reads and understands the instructions first, before even collecting the sample. This is important because with most test kits, the result must be visually read within a certain number of minutes after the test is started.
You collect urine in the sample collection cup and test it according to the instructions. If the test indicates the preliminary presence of one or more drugs, the sample should be sent to a laboratory where a more specific chemical test will be used order to obtain a final result. Some home use kits have a shipping container and pre-addressed mailer in them. If you have questions about using these tests, or the results that you are getting, you should contact your healthcare provider.
Efficacy of At Home Tests
At home drug tests are usually qualitative tests. You’ll be able find out if OxyContin is present in the urine, but not how much is present. A positive test for oxycodone does not mean that a person is abusing the drug, because there is no way for the test to indicate acceptable levels compared to abusive levels of prescribed drugs.
At home testing is fairly sensitive to the presence of oxycodone in the urine. This means that if drugs are present, you will usually get a preliminary (or presumptive) positive test result. It is very important to send the urine sample to the laboratory to confirm a positive at home result because certain foods, food supplements, beverages, or medicines can affect the results of at-home tests. Laboratory tests are the most reliable way to confirm drugs of abuse.
But when should you use an at home test? You should use these tests when you think someone might be abusing prescription or illegal drugs. If you are worried about a specific drug, make sure to check the label to confirm that this test is designed to detect the drug you are looking for.
Problems with OxyContin
If you think that you have problems with OxyContin, you probably do. Help is available and treating OxyContin addiction may be one of the most important decisions of your life.
Still, there are some main signs of a problem. These include:
- Continued use despite problems with health, work, or relationships.
- Craving OxyContin.
- Quitting OxyContin, but not being able to stay quit.
- Making OxyContin the most important thing in your life.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone!
The 2016 NSDUH, or National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 3.9 million people misused oxycodone products in the past year; this number represents 1.4 percent of people aged 12 or older. You can read this testimonial from NIDA about how pain medication can gradually take over your life. Plus, the Surgeon General has helped de-stigmatize addiction by explaining the brain disease of substance use disorders in his landmark 2016 report.
Still wondering what to do? Please leave us your questions, comments or experience with OxyContin below. We are happy to respond to all queries with a personal reply.