How Long Does OxyContin Stay In Your System?

OxyContin can be detected via oxyocodone 1-3 days after use. More on detection levels, drug testing and OxyContin in the body here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: OxyContin can be detected in the blood stream and urine minutes after ingestion. Metabolites can be detected for up to three months in hair follicle tests. Learn more about drug detection tests, false positives, and addiction potential here.


What Is OxyContin?

OxyContin, is a sustained, controlled-release formulation of oxycodone. It’s a painkiller available by prescription only. OxyContin is legitimately prescribed for relief of moderate to severe pain resulting from injuries, 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 opioid whose main purpose is pain relief. OxyContin is prescribed in daily doses of 10-80mg, and is to be taken orally as a tablet. It is available as a 10mg, 20mg, 40mg, or 80mg tablet which varies 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.

Ways People Take OxyContin

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.

Peak Levels of OxyContin

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. Dose proportionality has been established for the 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, 30mg, 40mg, 60mg and 80mg tablet strengths for both peak plasma concentrations and extent of absorption.

Half Life Of OxyContin

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 & Detection Windows

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 additional testing methods to verify a presumptive positive result.The recommended cutoff level for oxycodone is 100ng/ml, below the standard opioid assay cutoff level of 300ng/ml.

Blood Tests For OxyContin

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.

During a blood test, the blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm and drawing blood into a tube.This test will identify the level of drug that is present in the blood. Oxycodone is detected for a shorter amount of time in blood compared to urine.

Hair Tests For OxyContin

Oxycodone can also be detected in hair follicles around 1 month, sometimes up to 3 months depending on the length of the hair sample.Hair tests have an extended detection window of approximately 1 month per half inch of hair. Thus, a 1.5 inch section of hair captures a 90-day window of drug use.

Hair is tested and usually collected from the crown of the head, although hair may also be collected from other locations, such as the chest or underarm.The average detection window may vary based on an individual’s hair growth rate and other factors and detection is quite expensive and reliable for routine drug testing.

Oral Fluid Test For OxyContin

Oxycodone appears in oral fluid within 15-30 minutes after oral administration. During an oral drug test, saliva is collected in an absorbent pad or swab placed between the lower cheek and gums for a few minutes. If your saliva is to be collected for testing, you typically should not put anything in your mouth for the 10 minutes prior to the collection of the sample.

Urine Tests For OxyContin

Urine is the most frequently tested sample for opioids like Oxy. Oxycodone is initially detected within 2 hours of drug administration. The oxycodone contained in OxyContin can be detected in urine for 1-3 days.Oxymorphone, a metabolite of oxycodone, is also present in the urine of users.

During a test, urine is collected in a clean container. It cannot be used to determine when or how much drug was consumed.

False Positives

False-positive screens are the result of cross-reactivity to antibodies found in drug tests. This occurs because specific medications directly bind to the antibody due. Other cases of false positive occur because of inadvertent ingestion of oxycodone. Medications that commonly produce a false positive for OxyContin include:

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Doxylamine
  • Quetiapine
  • Quinolone antibiotics
  • Rifampin
  • Verapamil

Poppy seeds can readily result in a positive finding in standard urine testing.A careful history for medications or food that can induce a false-positive result should be performed and, if present, chromatography–mass spectroscopy testing should be used to distinguish between the presence of true opiates and false-positive results.

In situations in which a patient is taking a prescribed opiate, like oxycodone, as well as an illicit opiate, physicians must be especially careful when interpreting test results. Opiate abuse by opiate-treated chronic pain patients is common and can complicate interpretation of opiate testing.

What If I Test Positive?

If you had a test to detect OxyContin, and the result is positive, you may be able to oppose it as mistaken or wrong. The truth is that drug tests can sometimes be unreliable and give a false positive, as we explain above, or labs can make mistakes.

The main goal of drug testing is not punishment. It isprevention of addiction and/or early detection of people who have started to use drugs. The goal is to identify the problem early so that you can get the help you need to become drug-free.

You do need to know that in cases of severe addiction and signs of domestic abuse due to substance use, a doctor can call in social services. In fact, they must report you to social services if you have custody of children. You may be facing time in jail, or state or federal prison, OR lose your privileges in a probation setting.

However, if you failed the test, you can do some things that can help you to prove that you are innocent. Here are some of the rights that you have when you’ve tested positive for OxyContin in your system.

Failed a WORKPLACE drug test?

  • Your employer might allow you to retake the test.
  • You can require the laboratory to test your sample again.
  • Your employer can require an additional test with only one hour notice.
  • You can ask for a hair drug tests to be done.

Failed a CLINICAL drug test?

  • Talk with your practitioner about other prescription medicines you use.
  • Talk with your doctors about over-the-counter medications you use.
  • If a laboratory confirmatory test it’s not already a part of the testing process, you can ask for it.

Failed a STUDENT drug test…

  • Your parents or legal guardians will be informed, but the school may allow you to retake the drug test.
  • Your parents and school can require the laboratory to retest your sample or collect a new sample in a short window of time.
  • You and your parents can ask for a hair sample to be sent to the lab for testing.

Home Tests

Home drug tests for OxyContin typically indicate if oxycodone or its metabolite, oxymorphone is present in urine. This 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 positive test result. After a positive test, it is very important to send the urine sample to the laboratory to confirm a positive at home result because certain medicines can affect the results of home tests. Laboratory tests are the most reliable way to confirm drugs of abuse.

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.An OxyContin 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.

Accurate testing is done in two steps:

STEP 1: You do a quick at home test. It is very important that the person doing the test reads and understands the instructions first, before even collecting the sample, because with most test kits, the result must be visually read within a certain number of minutes after the test is started.

STEP 2: 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. As you may know now, many factors may cause a false positive result in the home test.

If you have questions about using these tests, or the results that you are getting, you should contact your healthcare provider.

OxyContin And Addiction Liability

People who take OxyContin to get high are most likely to become addicted to OxyContin. Anyone who takes OxyContin in ways other than prescribed – cut, broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved – or people who take OxyContin without a prescription is at risk of becoming addicted to the drug.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, OxyContin is classified as a Schedule II drug. This means that there is a medical use for OxyContin, but that it has a high potential for abuse that may lead to a severe psychological or physical dependence.

Get Help Now!

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.
  • Making OxyContin the most important thing in your life.
  • Quitting OxyContin, but not being able to stay quit.

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. [1] [2] [3]

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.

REFERENCE SOURCES: [1] SAMHSA: Results From The 2016 National Survey On Drug Use And Health
[2] NIH: Pain Medicine Addiction
[3] NCBI: The Neurobiology Of Substance Use, Misuse And Addiction
DEA: Oxycodone
DRUGABUSE: Urine Drug Testing For Chronic Pain Management
FDA: Opioid Misuse
GUILDLINK: OxyContin Tablets
JUSTICE: Oxycontin Diversion And Abuse
NCBI: Laboratory Testing For Prescription Opioids
NCBI: Prescription Opioids: Metabolism And Excretion Patterns Of Oxycodone In Urine Following Controlled Single Dose Administration
NCBI: The Controversy Surrounding Oxycontin Abuse: Issues And Solutions
NCBI: Toxicologic Testing For Opiates: Understanding False-Positive And False-Negative Test Results
SAMHSA: Oxycodone And Hydrocodone: Detection In Urine, Oral Fluid, And Blood
TOXNET: Oxycodone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Dili Gonzalez, M.D. is a general surgeon practicing women's focused medici...
Dr. Goecke is a medical doctor and general surgeon with personal experience of...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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