Percocet Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms & Detox
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Last Updated - 12/29/22View our editorial policy
Percocet detox can result in withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, weakness and tremors. These symptoms can start within hours of stopping the drug and last for several days. Medical help and counseling can reduce the chances of setbacks.
What Causes Percocet Withdrawal?
Percocet consumption rewires the nervous system by providing an excess of “feel-good hormones,” which help suppress pain signals. With a constant flow of these hormones, the brain gets used to functioning in their presence. Therefore, when a person stops consuming Percocet, the brain takes some time to return to the original non-opioid state. This period is when the Percocet withdrawal symptoms occur.
Percocet Withdrawal Symptoms
After prolonged usage, when the body is deprived of an addictive drug, it goes into withdrawal mode. The withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and even painful. There are both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping Percocet use.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
The physical withdrawal symptoms related to Percocet abuse manifest in the form of:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
- Enlarged pupils
- Abdominal crampings
- Nausea and vomiting
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
The psychological withdrawal symptoms related to Percocet abuse include:
- Mood swings
- Loss of focus
Percocet Withdrawal Timeline
The duration of Percocet withdrawal can vary depending on the person, and withdrawal symptoms can occur at any time during the withdrawal. Because Percocet is a short-acting opioid, withdrawal symptoms start soon after taking the drug. A typical timeline is:
- Within 12 to 24 hours of the last dose: Percocet withdrawal symptoms begin.
- Within 24 to 48 hours of the last dose: Percocet withdrawal symptoms peak.
- Within 3 to 5 days of the last dose: Percocet withdrawal symptoms start to resolve.
- Within weeks to months of the last dose: In some people, certain withdrawal symptoms like depression, anxiety and insomnia may linger but improve over time.
Withdrawal symptom onset is dictated in large part by the half-life of the drug. One half-life indicates the amount of time required for half of the drug to be metabolized. Thus, after five half-lives, more than 95% of the drug will have been metabolized. Oxycodone is the opioid in Percocet, and it has a half-life of approximately 3 to 5 hours, meaning that after approximately 25 hours, the majority of active oxycodone will no longer be present.
Someone who has developed a Percocet dependence will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms as oxycodone is metabolized out of the body. Taking more Percocet will stave off withdrawal symptoms. If another dose is not taken, withdrawal symptoms will progress as oxycodone is further metabolized.
Growth of Symptoms
Initial symptoms will continue to develop over the course of the first one to three days after quitting. Making it through these early days can be incredibly difficult if done without help, and relapse is common. For many people, rehab facilities that offer medical detox may be the most effective way to work through early withdrawal.
Peak of Symptoms
Because of the relatively short half-life of Percocet (specifically, oxycodone), symptom severity and intensity often peak during the first 24 to 48 hours of withdrawal. However, the symptoms of acute withdrawal can remain difficult to manage for several days after quitting.
For people with mild or moderate Percocet use disorders, early symptoms may begin to resolve within the first few days. However, more extreme cases of dependence may be characterized by severe withdrawal symptoms that persist over the course of two or more weeks.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a common component of recovery and includes persistent withdrawal symptoms that fluctuate in severity well after the acute withdrawal period is over. For some people, PAWS may endure for months after the last dose of Percocet was taken. Some people experiencing PAWS may feel like their recovery has failed, but it is important to understand that while it may be frustrating, PAWS is normal. Over time, PAWS symptoms will subside in severity.
Factors Affecting Percocet Withdrawal Timeline
Percocet withdrawal can affect people differently. Several factors contribute to the overall Percocet withdrawal timeline, including:
- Amount of Percocet used
- Duration of use
- The severity of dependence/addiction
- Physical and mental health
- Dependence on any other substances
Can Percocet Withdrawal Kill You?
Percocet withdrawal is rarely fatal. Withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable, but if withdrawal and detox are done with proper medical guidance and social support, withdrawal symptoms are bearable. For people that quit drug consumption suddenly (cold turkey), they will likely experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, excessive vomiting or diarrhea during withdrawal can dehydrate a person. This dehydration can be fatal in severe cases if left untreated.
Percocet Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal
Percocet detox is a process that requires medical help, strong determination and a support system. These steps are necessary since drug abuse reduces the ability of the body to function properly in their absence.
Medical detoxing takes place in a facility where medical assistance is readily available. Not all addictions need medical detox. Generally, medical detox is recommended if a person’s health is at risk during the process of detoxification. Medical detoxification is an initial step in the recovery process.
Controlled tapering of the drug is another form of addiction therapy. Since the brain has become accustomed to the drugs, it is better to wean off Percocet slowly to avoid sudden shock. This process aims to minimize withdrawal symptoms. The three tapering methods used are:
- Direct tapering: This method involves slowly decreasing the strength of Percocet based on the individual response. The CDC recommends that decreasing the dose by 10% on a weekly basis might be a safe start. However, the exact percentage may vary from person to person. Always consult with a medical professional first.
- Substitution tapering: This method involves a substitution of the original drug with another easily tapered drug. This process makes the treatment manageable. This method is used when the original drug of abuse is a low-dose or short-acting substance.
- Titration tapering: This tapering method dissolves low doses of drugs in water to decrease the amount of drug being consumed. It is the least preferred method and is not recommended by experts.
An outpatient detox program is suitable for individuals who are mentally stable and can travel to the clinic regularly to receive treatment. However, it mostly depends on the type of drug abuse that is being treated. It has been found that setback rates in people receiving inpatient treatment are much lower than in the outpatient population.
Finding a Detox Center
For many people, participating in a medically supervised detox program can be the most effective way to overcome the challenges of the first several days of recovery. Medical detox provides around-the-clock access to medical professionals who will create an appropriate tapering strategy to minimize withdrawal symptoms. In addition, when appropriate, pharmacological interventions (or medication-assisted treatment) to mitigate the severity of early symptoms can be provided to rehab clients.
When evaluating rehab programs for Percocet use disorders, look for comprehensive rehab programs that are staffed by multidisciplinary teams to ensure you will have access to the widest range of treatment options. In addition, the staff should have a proven record in helping people overcome Percocet or other opioid use disorders.
Our Drug Detox Center
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can address substance use and any co-occurring disorders.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Protracted Withdrawal.” July 2010. Accessed September 3, 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “POCKET GUIDE: TAPERING OPIOIDS FOR CHRONIC PAIN.” Accessed September 3, 2023.
Drugs.com. “Oxycodone.” April 19, 2023. Accessed September 3, 2023.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed September 3, 2023.