Due to the presence of oxycodone in Percocet, even short-term consumption can create a sense of dependency. A person may start feeling that they constantly need Percocet and can’t go without it. Therefore, when they stop taking the drug, Percocet withdrawal symptoms kick in, which can range from mild nausea to severe migraine attacks.
What Causes Percocet Withdrawal?
Percocet consumption rewires the nervous system by providing an excess of “feel-good hormones” which help in suppressing 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 reattain 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 the discontinuation of Percocet.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
The physical withdrawal symptoms related to Percocet abuse manifest in the form of:
- Muscle weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Hot/Cold flashes
Psychological Withdrawal Symptom
The psychological withdrawal symptoms related to Percocet abuse are:
Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) or Protracted Withdrawal
Opioid abuse affects brain chemistry. After the initial phase of detox, when the physical symptoms subside, post-acute/protracted withdrawal symptoms come into action. It is a long process which implies that the brain is slowly becoming accustomed to functioning without the drug. The PAWS symptoms are generally emotion-related. Some symptoms are:
- Cognitive impairment
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of focus
- Disturbed sleep
- Stress-related disorders
Can Percocet Withdrawal Kill You?
No, Percocet withdrawal will not kill you. 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.
How Long Does Percocet Stay in Your System?
Usually, the pain-relieving effect of Percocet lasts for approximately six hours. So, after that, a person would start experiencing Percocet withdrawal. Most people experience the worst withdrawal symptoms during the initial one to two weeks after discontinuing Percocet use. After the initial physical symptoms subside, the road to recovery begins.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration
As compared to a person who has been using Percocet for a short time, a long-term user will take longer to clear Percocet out of their system. The timeline of Percocet withdrawal varies from person to person. It is mostly based on doses consumed, age and overall health.
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 the drug abuse reduced 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, to avoid sudden shock, it is better if an individual weans off Percocet slowly. 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 a 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.
Apart from medication-based treatment, other remedies to treat addiction are also available. Since Percocet usage can result in nutritional deficits, maintaining a wholesome diet can help. Also, taking multivitamins regularly can help ease withdrawal symptoms. Dehydration is another side effect associated with opioid intake. Thus, drinking enough water can help with the associated symptoms. Trying and developing new hobbies that keep the mind occupied can be helpful as well.
Alternative Treatments for Percocet Withdrawal
In addition to the conventional forms of treatment for Percocet withdrawal, exercise, acupuncture and over-the-counter medications can help in relieving some of the symptoms associated with Percocet withdrawal.
An outpatient detox program is suitable for those individuals who are mentally stable and can travel to the clinic regularly for receiving 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.
Detoxing at Home
Detoxing at home is a difficult process. It is easy to spiral back into a pattern of drug abuse when detoxing at home since an individual may not have any support to help them through this difficult process.
Risks of Abrupt Discontinuation
Sometimes, people try to abruptly quit drug consumption, what is commonly known as “going cold turkey.” This process usually results in the sudden onset of severe withdrawal symptoms that can raise serious health concerns. Some of the risks associated with abrupt discontinuation are:
- Increased chance of relapse due to the absence of medical help
- Mismanagement of the extreme withdrawal symptoms can have fatal consequences
- Consuming the usual dosage after relapsing carries a high risk of overdose complications since the body can no longer tolerate it
- The absence of counseling or therapy will pose a problem in long-term recovery.
Finding a Detox Center
A crucial step in the addiction treatment and recovery pathway is selecting the appropriate detox center. A detox center will assess a person’s condition and offer a treatment plan including medical assistance and counseling.
Key Points: Understanding Percocet Withdrawal and Detox
Some important points regarding Percocet withdrawal and detox are:
- Percocet withdrawal symptoms occur since the body is not used to functioning properly in their absence.
- The withdrawal timeline mainly depends on the dosage and duration of consumption.
- Detox strategies involve tapering the drug to minimize withdrawal effects.
- Treatment can take place both inpatient as well as outpatient facilities.
If you or a loved one struggle 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.
National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. “Mind Matters: The body’s response to opioids.” July 24, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019.
FDA.gov “PERCOCET.” November 2006. Accessed July 24, 2019.
Harvard Medical School. “How Addiction hijacks the brain.” July 2011. Accessed July 24, 2019.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Protracted withdrawal.” July 2010. Accessed July 24, 2019.
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.” Accessed July 24, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “POCKET GUIDE: TAPERING OPIOIDS FOR CHRONIC PAIN.” Accessed July 24, 2019
New Hampshire Medical Society. “Opioid Tapering.” March 2006. Accessed July 24, 2019
Medical Disclaimer: 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.