Percocet is the brand name of a prescription pain reliever comprised of two substances 1,2,3:
Medications that contain oxycodone are very popular and widely used in the U.S. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), oxycodone was prescribed nearly 59 million times in 2013 1. Percocet is safe and effective when used short-term, but when the substance is used regularly or abused, the risks of Percocet addiction and dependence increase 1,2,3. This is concerning because 16 million people report abusing oxycodone at some point in their life 1. Due to these risks, the DEA lists Percocet and all oxycodone products as schedule II controlled substances 1.
Using Percocet imparts obvious risks to health; however, ending Percocet use is not without its own potential complications. Someone that has used the medications consistently will likely experience a variety of unwanted effects when ending use called withdrawal symptoms 3,4. Each person’s experience with Percocet withdrawal is unique, yet each has the potential for very distressing and possibly dangerous mental and physical health effects 5,6,7.
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Percocet withdrawal symptoms will appear when a person quits or dramatically reduces use. These symptoms of Percocet withdrawal are similar to withdrawal from other opioids, such as heroin, Vicodin, and OxyContin. That being said, opioid withdrawal syndrome manifests differently from person to person and the symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Expected Percocet withdrawal symptoms include 5:
Predicting a precise Percocet detox length, intensity, and speed of onset can be difficult. The process is influenced by many individual characteristics and aspects of use including:
Any of these factors can impact the Percocet detox process. In general, however, there are characteristic timelines that apply to many of the opioid substances, including oxycodone. In many instances, Percocet withdrawal symptoms will begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose 5. The symptoms often peak in intensity within 1 to 3 days and gradually dissipate within 5 to 7 days 5.
In many cases, Percocet withdrawal symptoms will begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose.
In some cases, as the drug detox symptoms peak and subside, the acute symptoms of withdrawal will give way to extended withdrawal symptoms 8. Sometimes referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), these protracted withdrawal symptoms can last as long as 6 months and include 7,8:
As with the variability seen with acute withdrawal, the persistent effects of post-acute withdrawal will not affect every individual recovering from opioid addiction.
The combined effects of Percocet withdrawal can contribute to health complications that far outweigh the unpleasantness of individual symptoms. For example, Percocet detox is sometimes associated with symptoms like higher blood pressure, rapid heart rate, quicker rate of breathing, and higher body temperature 6. Individually, these symptoms are not very problematic, but in people with pre-existing or underlying cardiac conditions, these complications can threaten the physical health of the individual 6.
Other serious effects of Percocet withdrawal include 6,7:
Caution and care must be taken during any drug detox to avoid serious consequences.
To detox in a safe, controlled way, professional detox treatment is necessary. Not only will medically-assisted or medically-supervised detox improve comfort, but it will also reduce cravings and prevent complications associated with opioid withdrawal 6.
Detox settings include 6,9:
Percocet detox will focus on reducing withdrawal symptoms, managing cravings, and promoting a healthier lifestyle 6,9. Detox is important, but it is only one step towards recovery. Ongoing addiction treatment is usually needed to maintain abstinence in the long run 9.