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Percocet is a brand name prescription medication that is made up of two ingredients: oxycodone and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is a opioid pain reliever, and acetaminophen is a non-opioid pain reliever and fever reducer.

Percocet is often prescribed by doctors to relieve moderate to severe pain, such as pain from surgery, injury, or chronic conditions like cancer. The medication binds to the opioid receptors in your brain and spinal cord, reducing the perception of pain. The acetaminophen in Percocet helps enhance the pain-relieving effects of the oxycodone.

How Is Percocet Classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration?

Percocet is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) because it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Although Schedule II drugs have a recognized medical use, their abuse potential is high. As a result, taking Schedule II drugs can lead to psychological and physical dependence.

Percocet’s addictive potential is due to oxycodone. Not only is oxycodone highly addictive, the risk of addiction and dependence increases with long-term use or misuse. Over time, people who abuse Percocet may require higher doses to achieve the same effects, leading to an increased risk of overdose.

The DEA regulates the production, distribution, and use of Schedule II controlled substances to prevent their abuse. Physicians can only prescribe Schedule II drugs for medical purposes and must follow specific prescribing guidelines, such as limiting the quantity of drugs prescribed and monitoring patients closely for signs of misuse or abuse.


Percocet’s Half Life

The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. In the case of Percocet, the half-life of oxycodone, one of its active ingredients, is around 3.5 hours, while the half-life of acetaminophen is about 2-3 hours.

This means that if you take a dose of Percocet, half of the oxycodone in the medication will be eliminated from your body after 3.5 hours. After another 3.5 hours, half of the remaining oxycodone will be eliminated, and so on. Similarly, half of the acetaminophen will be eliminated from the body after 2-3 hours.

The half-life of Percocet is important to understand because it affects how long the medication will remain effective and how long it will stay in the body. For example, if you take a dose of Percocet and feel pain relief for four hours, you may need to take another dose after four hours to continue managing your pain.

Since Percocet stays in the body for a certain amount of time, taking too much of it or taking doses too closely together can lead to dangerous levels of oxycodone in your bloodstream, increasing the risk of an overdose.

How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your Body?

The length of time that Percocet stays in your body depends on several factors, including your age, weight, metabolism, and liver function. While the half-life gives an estimate of how long it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from your body, it can take several half-lives for the medication to be fully eliminated. Based on the half-life of Percocet, it should take around 19 hours for the drug to be mostly eliminated from your body. However, traces of the medication can remain in the body for up to three days, depending on various factors.

  • Urine: One way to test for the presence of Percocet in the body is through a urine drug test. Percocet is detectable in urine for roughly 1-3 days after the last dose. However, the duration can vary depending on factors such as the dosage, frequency of use, and individual differences in drug metabolism.
  • Blood: Using the half-life as a guide, Percocet is detectable in blood for roughly 24 hours.
  • Hair: Percocet can be detected in hair for up to 90 days after the last dose. Hair drug tests are not affected by factors such as diet, exercise, or hydration. Therefore, they can be more reliable in detecting drug use compared to other methods, such as urine or blood tests.

What Factors Influence How Long Percocet Stays in Your System?

Several factors can influence how long Percocet stays in your system. These include:

  • Dosage: The higher the dose of Percocet, the longer it will take for the body to eliminate it.
  • Frequency of use: If you take Percocet regularly or over an extended period, it can take longer for your body to eliminate it.
  • Age: As people age, their liver and kidney functions decline, which can affect how long it takes for the body to eliminate Percocet.
  • Metabolism: Some people metabolize drugs faster or slower than others. Your metabolism rate will affect how long it takes for the body to eliminate a drug.
  • Body mass index (BMI): People with higher BMIs may eliminate Percocet from their system more slowly than those with lower BMIs.
  • Gender: Men tend to eliminate Percocet faster than women.
  • Liver and kidney function: If you have liver or kidney disease, it can take longer for your body to eliminate Percocet.
  • alcohol: If you mix alcohol with Percocet, it will take your body longer to eliminate the drug.

What Are the Symptoms of a Percocet Addiction?

Using Percocet for an extended period or using it in higher doses than prescribed can lead to addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that can have severe physical, emotional, and social consequences. The symptoms of a Percocet addiction can include:

  • Cravings: You may experience intense cravings for Percocet and feel unable to function without it.
  • Dependence: You may develop a physical dependence on Percocet, which means that your body requires the drug to function normally.
  • Tolerance: You may develop a tolerance to Percocet, meaning that you’ll need higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: If you stop taking Percocet or try to reduce your dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, and anxiety.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: You may continue to use Percocet despite experiencing negative consequences, such as relationship problems, financial difficulties, or legal issues.
  • Loss of interest in activities: You may lose interest in activities that you previously enjoyed and spend more time using Percocet instead.
  • Social isolation: You may withdraw from social activities and relationships, preferring to spend time alone or with others who use drugs.
  • Neglecting responsibilities: You may neglect responsibilities, such as work, school, or family obligations, in favor of using Percocet.
  • Mood changes: You may experience mood changes, such as irritability or depression, when you are unable to use Percocet.

What Happens When You Withdraw From Percocet?

Withdrawal from Percocet can be uncomfortable and challenging, especially for individuals who have been using the medication for an extended period or at high doses. Withdrawal occurs when the body tries to adjust to the absence of the drug, and symptoms can last for several days or even weeks. Symptoms of Percocet withdrawal can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose and teary eyes
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts

The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary, and it will depend on factors such as the duration and intensity of Percocet use, your metabolism, and your overall health.


Doctors may prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms of Percocet withdrawal, such as clonidine, which can help reduce anxiety, agitation, and muscle aches. Buprenorphine and methadone are other medications that doctors may prescribe. Additional ways to treat a Percocet addiction include:

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies are designed to help individuals address the psychological factors that contribute to addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common therapy used to help individuals identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and develop healthy coping skills.
  • Support groups: Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery, can provide individuals with peer support and encouragement during the recovery process.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation: Inpatient rehabilitation involves staying at a treatment center for a specific amount of time to receive treatment for addiction. Inpatient rehabilitation can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to focus on their recovery.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: Outpatient rehabilitation involves attending therapy sessions and support groups while living at home. Outpatient rehabilitation can be a flexible and effective treatment option for individuals with mild to moderate addiction.

If you or someone you love is suffering from an opioid use disorder, contact Recreate Life Counseling in Boynton Beach. We offer various treatments to help you get your life back together again, such as 12-step addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and relapse prevention treatment. Let us help you on your journey to recovery.

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