Percocet is a prescription painkiller that contains two drugs: the opioid oxycodone as well as the mild analgesic acetaminophen. While Percocet is an effective treatment for moderate to severe pain when it is used as prescribed, the drug has a high potential for addiction. As with other opioids, Percocet abuse can lead to addiction and a wide range of devastating consequences, including fatal overdose. Understanding the nature of this drug and how it affects the body is essential for anyone hoping to recover from Percocet addiction.
Unlike many prescription painkillers, Percocet is a combination drug that comes with a unique array of risks. The opioid component of the drug, oxycodone, is responsible for causing severe physical dependence. When individuals develop a tolerance to oxycodone, they are driven to take higher and higher doses of Percocet in order to obtain the effects to which they are accustomed. In many cases, they abuse the drug using illicit routes of administration, including smoking, injecting, and snorting Percocet. This can lead to addiction as well as a range of adverse health effects. At the same time, the acetaminophen in Percocet, which is not meant to be taken at high doses, can harm health. Despite being an over-the-counter drug, acetaminophen, the active component of Tylenol, can be fatal when taken in high doses.
For anyone abusing or addicted to Percocet, quitting is difficult without outside help. The drug continues to affect the body for a long time, and individuals who stop taking Percocet are likely to face a wide range of debilitating symptoms.
Once a person has developed a physical dependence on Percocet, their bodies actually adapt to the effects. This phenomenon, known as tolerance, means that taking the same dose of Percocet produces a less intense high. In order to experience the desired effects, an individual must increase their dosage, take Percocet more frequently, or take Percocet using another route of administration, such as snorting, smoking, or injecting. As physical dependence develops, so too do the withdrawal symptoms that occur when an individual stops taking Percocet. These withdrawal symptoms can be excruciatingly painful and make it nearly impossible for a person to function. Common Percocet withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Muscle and joint aches
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Inability to sleep
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- High blood pressure and rapid heart beat
- Dilated pupils and blurry vision
- Strong cravings for opioids
How Long Does Percocet Stay in the Body?
The half-life of Percocet is 3.5 hours. This means that it takes almost 4 hours for half a dose of Percocet to be eliminated from one’s system. The remaining half, however, takes far longer for the body to process. On average, it takes a person approximately 19 hours to fully eliminate Percocet from their system. However, this number can vary considerably from person to person. Factors that affect how long it takes for a person to process Percocet include:
- A person’s age
- A person’s body composition (opioids are absorbed by fatty issues)
- How much Percocet a person regularly takes
- How long a person has used Percocet
- Their general health (liver and kidney problems can affect how the body handles Percocet)
How Long Can Percocet Be Detected on Drug Tests?
How long does Percocet stay in your system and how long can it be detected by a drug test? While the effects of Percocet generally wear off after 24 hours, traces of the drug remain detectable in the body for significantly longer. Employers, doctors, parents, and case workers who use drug screen tests have a variety of methods for detecting Percocet. When taking a standard home drug test kit, a person will begin testing positive for Percocet after one to three hours of taking the drug, and they will generally continue to test positive for one to two days afterwards. However, these times can vary considerably depending on the type of drug kit.
Urine Tests for Percocet
Urine test kits are the most common type of home drug kit. The oxycodone in Percocet is generally detectable in urine for three to four days after a person’s last dose of Percocet. However, most standard drug test kits do not test for oxycodone, so it is important to purchase a drug screening kit that is designed to detect the presence of oxycodone metabolites.
Saliva Tests for Percocet
The oxycodone in Percocet can be detected in a person’s saliva for up to four days after they last used the drug. These tests are less commonly available than urine tests, however.
Hair Tests for Percocet
Hair tests can detect drug metabolites over a far longer period of time than other types of tests. This is because oxycodone metabolites actually enter the follicle. As a result, the longer a person’s hair is, the longer the record of their drug use. Hair tests require processing by a lab and they are significantly more expensive than other drug tests.
Getting Percocet Out of Your System
To get Percocet out of your system, it is essential to quit the drug. For many people, however, withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that doing so without a support system is difficult. Some people benefit from tapering their dosage over a period of time. If you have stopped using Percocet and other opioids and you want to get all traces of the drug out of your system, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process:
- Get regular exercise
- Stay well-hydrated
- Eat a healthy diet
Drinking plenty of water helps dilute the presence of Percocet in the urine. Meanwhile, physical activity and a healthy diet work to boost your body’s metabolism, helping Percocet leave your system at a faster rate. Another benefit is that engaging in these healthy activities decreases the likelihood of a relapse.
Surviving a Percocet Overdose
How long does Percocet stay in your system after an overdose? The answer is simple: long enough to kill you. Individuals misusing or abusing Percocet can experience a life-threatening overdose. Even individuals who are not taking it for recreational purposes can sometimes overdose. Symptoms of an oxycodone overdose include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Nausea, vomiting, and stomach spasms
- Weak pulse
- Low blood pressure
- Breathing issues
- Bluish-colored fingernails and lips
If a loved one is experiencing a Percocet overdose, it is crucial to administer the life-saving drug naloxone. Naloxone, which can be administered using a simple nasal spray, reverses a Percocet overdose, sending a person into immediate withdrawal. While unpleasant, this can save a person’s life if they are overdosing. However, it is important to remember that Percocet often remains active in their body after their dosage of naloxone has worn off. It is possible for a person to begin overdosing again after the naloxone stops blocking the effects of oxycodone. For this reason, it is essential to get a person the medical care they need as soon as they are treated with naloxone.
Recovering from Percocet Addiction at Design for Recovery
To recover from a Percocet addiction, it is essential to get Percocet out of your system. However, in many ways it is more important to get Percocet out of your head. Individuals who suffer from an opioid use disorder often remain obsessed with using Percocet long after withdrawing from the drug. Outside help and a strong support system is key to recovery from any addiction.
Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home in West Los Angeles, provides men with a safe and supportive environment where they can work to recover from Percocet addiction and rebuild their lives. Residents build connections with each other to develop a strong sober social support system. Studies on sober living homes show that this kind of peer support can help people stay sober years after graduating. Meanwhile, they work every day to develop the skills, tools, and coping techniques they need to avoid relapse. At Design for Recovery, we believe that physical sobriety is half the battle. Beyond that, residents work daily to rebuild their lives from the ground up, developing and healing relationships, pursuing new career goals, and nurturing their minds.
If you are ready to recover from Percocet addiction, reach out to Design for Recovery today.