Questions like, “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?” and “How dangerous is the use of this pain killer?” are commonly asked questions.
Percocet® is one of the most important drugs right now for several reasons. For one thing, using Percocet® and similar drugs has revolutionized pain treatment and made it possible for people with previously unmanageable conditions to be at least more comfortable while going through treatment.
Unfortunately, Percocet® is also one of the drugs most heavily involved with the opioid epidemic, and there are a lot of questions about how the drug can be used safely, and when.
We don’t have those answers yet, which contributes to people using the drug having unanticipated problems. Additionally, if the problems are expected, medical care providers might not always recognize the signs or have a game plan for how to help people recover.
Being a self-advocate if you or someone you love is using Percocet® is incredibly important, but it can be difficult if you don’t have the information you need about the drug, such as how long Percocet stays in your system and the risks and side effects that come with use.
So, this article is going to give you the information you need to be a more effective self-advocate and advocate for the people you care about most to ensure the safe use of Percocet® when prescribed and avoid misuse or abuse.
What Is Percocet® And What Is It Used For?
First and foremost, let’s dive into what Percoce®t is, how the drug is used properly, and why it has become such an important drug for pain use during the opioid epidemic before we touch on questions like “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?”
If you haven’t already guessed, Percocet®
is an opioid painkiller. Specifically, Percocet® is the brand name of the combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and oxycodone. 
Oxycodone is the opioid used in Percocet®, which works as a pain reliever and also an ingredient to assist with stress reduction and the often accompanying mental burden of being in pain. Together with acetaminophen, a pain reliever on its own, the two pain relievers can combine to create a much more effective release for pain.
The specific dose taken of Percocet® can change depending on your specific MD prescription. The drug is typically used for moderately severe or severe pain, such as broken bones, post-surgical pain, and the pain associated with certain disorders and diseases. Even then, many doctors will start by prescribing other, non-opioid, pain medications before prescribing Percocet® because of the risk of abuse and addiction that comes with this medication and all other opioid medications.
Unfortunately, Percocet® can sometimes cause liver damage. Typically, this happens only when used improperly outside recommended prescription dosage instructions, but sometimes it can occur even when used as prescribed. People who take this medication for a long time may need to get regular liver-function testing to make sure it’s not causing problems, and people who have a history of liver problems may need to use a different medication instead so as not to cause further damage.
The other risk, which is often considered much more common, is the risk of developing an addiction.
Like all opioid painkillers, it’s important to work closely with your doctor when you are taking or discontinuing taking Percocet® to make sure steps are taken in a way that is safe and effective, and to manage any signs of addiction before they lead to a more serious problem.
How Long Does Percocet® Stay In Your System?
So, how long does Percocet® stay in your system precisely? Because Percocet® comes with the risk of addiction, it’s important to know how long the drug is active in your system, how long the drug can be detected after you take it, and some of the signs and symptoms of chemical dependence and withdrawal.
In this section, we’ll primarily focus on the question of “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?”, and we’ll address withdrawal symptoms and signs of addiction or dependence in the next section. Just keep in mind that all of this information works together; you need all of it to really understand and manage Percocet® use – even with a prescription for the drug.
One way to tell how long a drug will stay in your system is to know the half-life of the drug. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for the drug you’ve taken to reduce by half in your system. Unfortunately, the half-life system is not the most reliable way to judge the process of how long does Percocet® stay in your system. This is because the next half-life removal will remove roughly half of the remaining drug, leaving you with a quarter of what you originally took, and so on.
While there is no specific time frame for how long each half-life will take to leave your body, the half-life of oxycodone, the opioid part of Percocet®, and usually the part that is tested for, is between 3.2 hours and 5.6 hours. The half-life depends on which formulation of oxycodone is in your medication (quick-release or extended-release) and individual metabolic differences. While this is not specific, it can give you a more general idea when you’re wondering, “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?”
It’s been found in the healthcare community that oxycodone is generally detectible  in saliva for between 1-4 days after your last dose, in urine for 3-4 days after your last dose, and in hair for up to 90 days after your last dose. These figures don’t mean, however, that Percocet® is completely out of your system in that time. Instead, it means that the amount of the drug remaining is potentially no longer detectible, except in the case of hair follicle testing. Since the duration of a hair follicle test is so long, most people are clear of the drug and out of withdrawal by the time Percocet® stops showing up on hair follicle tests.
Side Effects And Risks Of Percocet® Use
Aside from knowing how long Percocet® stays in your system, there are quite a few side effects and risks that can also come with usage. People who are using the medication properly will generally experience fewer or less severe versions of these side effects. On the other hand, people who take more of the medication than they need, or who take it recreationally, may have more severe side effects overall.
The risks and side effects of this medication are one of the reasons that doctors typically look for alternatives before prescribing it. If you have a prescription for this medication but the side effects don’t outweigh the benefits in your case, talk with your doctor; they may be able to offer a more effective alternative medication.
Outside of knowing the answer to “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?”, you should familiarize yourself with other common side effects  of Percocet®:
- Dry mouth
- Mood changes
More serious side effects may call for medical attention, and include:
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Swelling of the face, nose, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, feet, ankles
- Difficulty breathing
Aside from these side effects, which can be a sign of an allergic reaction, overdose, or another adverse reaction, there is also the risk that this medication will cause addiction, or that you could incur liver damage from long-term use of the medication.
Knowing the answer to, “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?” can be important, but it is definitely not reliable enough to make all educated decisions with the drug. People who have a history of liver problems, for instance, are especially at risk of having liver damage while on this medication. It’s important to talk with your doctor about whether Percocet® is safe for you if you have any chronic conditions, as well.
Forget How Long Does Percocet® Stay In Your System – Is Percocet® Addictive?
In short, Yes! Percocet® can be highly addictive, especially when the drug is taken for a long time, or taken for recreational reasons other than prescribed and doctor regulated pain relief.
That’s because, like other opioid and opiate medications, Percocet® works on the pleasure center of your brain in addiction to relieve pain. That’s why many opioid users feel emotionally better when they are taking the medication, even if they don’t have a reason to need physical relief from pain. The higher the dose you take, and the longer you take the medication, the greater the risk of addiction. And this is where the possibility of addiction to this powerful painkiller becomes more important than understanding how long Percocet® stays in your system.
While some people can take Percocet® for a long time and then stop without having significant problems, other people may start showing signs of addiction with as little as a single dose or a single prescription for the medication.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to spot Percocet® addiction, especially if you’re the person taking the medication, or if the person you’re worried about is a loved one.
Common signs of Percocet® addiction include things like:
- Going to multiple doctors of the same type to get more than one prescription
- Going to multiple pharmacies to fill prescriptions
- Considering buying or already having bought Percocet® on the black market
- Feeling like you need to hide your drug use
- Feeling like you need to lie about how much of the medication you’ve taken
- Needing to take more Percocet® than you used to to get the same results
- Taking more Percocet® than prescribed
- Taking Percocet® more often than prescribed
- Feeling sick in a way that only seems to get better when you take more Percocet®
There are many other signs and symptoms of Percocet® addiction, but that list should help you spot addiction when it’s happening in yourself or someone near you.
How To Help Overcoming Percocet® Addiction
While knowing the answers to important questions like, “What’s in Percocet®?” or “How long does Percocet® stay in your system?” is important for making decisions related to your health and pain relief, dealing with a resulting Percocet® addiction can be daunting, especially when you want to stop taking the drug but don’t know where to begin.
First of all, remember that you aren’t alone, and there are plenty of medical professionals who specialize in helping people in exactly your position. Their expertise and knowledge about overcoming addiction is available to you and YOU CAN GET BETTER.
Next, if addiction to this opioid is a concern, consider talking to your primary care doctor, especially if they are the prescriber of the medication in the first place. They should be able to offer resources and assistance, though this also generally means that they will stop prescribing the medication.
It’s also a good idea to consider going to an addiction treatment center than specializes in this kind of care, and in creating an environment where recovery is possible.
If going to a treatment center sounds like the best option for you, Ocean Recovery can help. Contact us to learn more about our admission process, treatment programs, and what you can expect while you’re here.
- Drugs.com. (n.d.). Percocet®. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/percocet.html on 2023, February 12
- Cafasso J. Healthline.(2018, September 18). How long does oxycodone stay in your system?. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-oxycodone-stay-in-your-system on 2023, February 12
- Medline Plus.(2021, February 15). Oxycodone. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html on 2023, February 12