Percocet is a commonly prescribed painkiller that contains oxycodone (an opioid painkiller) and acetaminophen (a pain reliever and fever reducer).1 Percocet alters the way your body feels and responds to pain, and taking this drug helps you feel happy and relaxed. Like other opioid drugs, Percocet has a high potential for abuse and can lead to the development of an addiction if misused.2 Some of the harmful effects associated with Percocet abuse include:
- Severe constipation
- Slowed breathing
- Liver damage
- Kidney failure
An addiction to Percocet can lead to permanent and far-reaching damage. Percocet overdose can result in vital organ damage or even death. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for people addicted to Percocet to successfully quit using the drug due to the physical and psychological discomfort triggered by withdrawal.
Percocet Withdrawal Timeline
The symptoms experienced during withdrawal can vary and will depend on the length and dosage of your Percocet use. The following timeline provides a general idea of when to expect various symptoms during detox process.
Percocet has a half-life of about 3.5 hours, so you can expect general withdrawal symptoms to begin appearing around 5-8 hours after the last dose.3 Early symptoms of withdrawal during this time resemble cold and flu-like symptoms and include:4
- Aches and pains
- Watery nose and eyes
- Chills and hot flashes
Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal will likely peak in severity and intensity around 2-3 days after the last dose. You will still experience flu-like symptoms, along with additional withdrawal symptoms that will likely include:4
- Severe aches and pains
- Abdominal cramping
By now the intensity and severity of the physical symptoms should begin to decline. At this stage of withdrawal, those addicted to Percocet will experience strong cravings for the drug. Most physical withdrawal symptoms will resolve after about a week, but psychological issues such as cravings will persist if left untreated. Counseling will help teach you how to properly cope with these withdrawal cravings, which is necessary for long-term success in recovery.
Week 2 and beyond
After the first week the psychological symptoms associated with Percocet withdrawal will intensify and become major issues to deal with. Depression and anxiety can leave those treating their addiction feeling hopeless, and some people may become suicidal. The risk of relapse is high during this stage of withdrawal. Chronic users of Percocet may experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms that occur well beyond the first month.
Percocet addiction should be treated by addiction professionals. It is recommended to undergo Percocet detox in a medical facility or detox center where you will be safe and comfortable. Certain medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, clonidine, and naltrexone can help to minimize cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox.5 Other medications can be prescribed to address other withdrawal issues such as anxiety, depression, or nausea and vomiting. Behavioral therapy is an important part of treatment that will address the underlying causes of Percocet abuse. This will provide you with the coping tools needed for successful and long-term recovery.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018) U.S. Opioid Prescribing Rate Maps.
- Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section. (2019). Oxycodone.
- Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (2006). Percocet.
- U.S. National Library of Medcine. (2018). Opiate and opioid withd
- Volkow, N.D., Frieden, T.R., Hyde, P.S., Cha, S.S. (2014). Medication-assisted therapies–tackling the