Percocet is a prescription drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is typically prescribed for short-term management of surgery pain or pain from medical conditions. Percocet’s active ingredient is oxycodone, which is a controlled substance. Percocet also contains acetaminophen, which is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication under the brand name Tylenol.
Percocet is an extremely effective drug for pain. However, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it carries a high risk for abuse and addiction but still has an accepted medical use. When a drug has addictive potential, it can also cause physical, mental and emotional dependence. Dependence can cause withdrawal symptoms to occur if a person stops taking the drug.
Percocet and many other opioids can cause a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that make sobriety difficult. If you or someone you love is struggling to quit opioids such as Percocet, learning about detox and other treatment options for withdrawal can help put you on the path to recovery.
Someone who takes Percocet over a longer period or at high enough doses can develop opioid dependence. Dependence happens when the body becomes used to a constant level of Percocet, leading to changes in the central nervous system (CNS).
When Percocet is in the body, it over-activates opioid receptors, which are responsible for feelings of pleasure. Over time, the body adapts to the higher-than-normal levels of opioid stimulation. The body then adjusts by decreasing the number of opioid receptors on nerve cells. When a person with dependence stops taking Percocet, they have fewer opioid receptors than before. Their body must readapt to the absence of Percocet, and this process is what causes uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to occur.
Not everyone gets withdrawal symptoms, but many people will. The symptoms vary from person to person and can include physical or behavioral symptoms. Common physical symptoms may include:
Behavioral symptoms may include:
How you respond to opioid withdrawal and how long it lasts can depend on a few factors. The most important factor is whether you were using a short-acting or long-acting opioid. Percocet is considered short-acting because it is immediate-release and because oxycodone has a half-life of 3.5 hours.
Other important factors include how long you’ve been taking Percocet, what dosages you have been taking, whether you are also abusing other drugs, your specific metabolism and your individual characteristics.
For many people, the Percocet withdrawal process will follow a general timeline. An example timeline may include:
Detox is the body’s process of eliminating Percocet from its system and returning to normal function. Detox usually lasts about as long as withdrawal, so it typically takes between four and 10 days.
Medically supervised detox is when someone enters a treatment program or recruits the help of their doctor to assist with withdrawal symptoms. There are many benefits to medically assisted detox, including medical monitoring, social support and medications that can treat symptoms. For example, dehydration due to vomiting is common during withdrawal and can lead to complications or visits to the hospital. While a person is in medically supervised detox, problems like this can be caught and corrected.
Because Percocet is so addictive, it is common for people in withdrawal to start the drug again to stop withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This is why entering a treatment program is typically safer and more effective than trying to stop Percocet by yourself.
It’s possible to quit Percocet cold turkey, but it makes the withdrawal process more difficult than it would be in a medical detox program. Cold turkey is when someone stops taking a drug without any additional help. Usually, withdrawal symptoms are worse, and the risk of relapse is higher.
The worst withdrawal symptoms are acute symptoms that last for four to 10 days. Symptoms will last longer in people who are heavy users. For people with a long history of abuse, withdrawal symptoms can last for months. This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
Detox depends on the half-life of an addictive substance. A drug’s half-life is how long it takes the body to remove half of the drug, and it takes about five half-lives to leave the body completely. Percocet has a half-life of 3.5 hours, so the initial detox is 18 hours. However, withdrawal symptoms can continue to occur because the nerve cells have been rewired by Percocet abuse.
If you are attempting to go through withdrawal at home, the most important thing is to stay hydrated, especially if you are experiencing a lot of vomiting and diarrhea. It is helpful to seek medically assisted treatment if you are having overwhelming cravings to abuse Percocet again. Medical detox can provide the highest level of success for those wanting to quit Percocet.
Anyone taking Percocet for an extended period will experience some withdrawal symptoms. Even people who take it exactly as instructed are at risk of withdrawal symptoms when ending Percocet use. As a result, it may not be possible to stop Percocet without withdrawal. However, you can ease the process with medically supervised detox.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Percocet abuse and addiction, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is here to help. Located near Colorado Springs, our full-service rehab center is a 110-bed facility designed to help people attain lasting recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Our multidisciplinary experts are also experienced in treating co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety.
We offer a full continuum of evidence-based care, with programs ranging from medical detox and inpatient treatment to outpatient services, teletherapy and long-term aftercare. We also provide a wide array of amenities to foster your physical and mental well-being, including a basketball court, sand volleyball court, squash court, yoga studio, walking trails, two gyms, scenic views, outdoor activities and more.
Percocet addiction doesn’t have to rule your day-to-day life — professional help is available. Contact us today to learn more about Percocet addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.