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How Long Does Percocet Stay in your SystemLast updated: December 10, 2021
What is Percocet?
Percocet is an opiate-derived pain reliever – a combination of the semi-synthetic opioid oxycodone and the mild painkiller acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol). Percocet is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain for a set – usually short – amount of time because it carries a high risk for dependency and addiction.
Percocet is classified as a Schedule II drug and a controlled substance in the U.S.: you must have a prescription to get it, and it’s important to take the tablets in the precise way you were instructed to do so. Oxycodone, the primary opioid in Percocet, can produce a rapid physical tolerance, increasing your need for a higher and higher dose.
What are the obvious side-effects - how can someone tell if I took it?
The side effects of Percocet are common to most opioids. The mild side effects may include nausea, dizziness, blurred vision and dry mouth; in many cases, patients may report constipation or diarrhea, though vomiting is less common.
If you’ve taken Percocet, you may also experience fever, chest pain, shallow breathing and slowed heartbeat. In many cases, you can display unusual or erratic behavior coupled with strange thoughts and overwhelming confusion.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
Because Percocet is a potent opioid, most clinicians recommend weaning slowly off the drug rather than quitting ‘cold turkey’. Rapidly stopping taking Percocet can lead to yawning, watery eyes and runny nose, and in more severe cases tremors, restlessness, irritability, muscles aches, and even anxiety, depression and seizures. Intense cravings are also common withdrawal symptoms associated with Percocet.
What is the half-life (and what does that mean)?
If you have recently taken Percocet and you’re wondering how long it will stay in your system, it’s best to start with figuring out the drug’s half-life. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes a specific amount of a substance to reduce to half of its initial value.
Like oxycodone, Percocet has an average eliminating half-life of between 3.5 hours – 5.5 hours. This means that a full dose of the drug will stay in your system for around 19-20 hours before it’s completely cleared.
For chronic and heavy users of the drug, however, the half-life of Percocet may be longer. If there’s too much of the drug in the body than the liver can handle at once, the substance will be absorbed by the body’s fatty tissues, remaining in your system for longer.
How long will Percocet stay in my system?
Even if the Percocet leaves your system within 19-20 hours, there may be metabolites present which can be detectable for several days following ingestion. When the liver metabolizes the Percocet, it releases agents which are the primary target of Percocet drug tests.
The exact time it takes the drug to leave your system depends on several individual variables, including your height and weight, consumption habits, hydration levels before taking the dose, as well as your metabolism.
Age is also a key factor: older age is associated with reduced kidney and liver functions which can slow down metabolism and reduce your body’s ability to excrete the drugs. A recent study found that the elimination half-life of oxycodone increased from 3.8 hours to 4.6 hours between the ages of 25 and 85 years.
How long does Percocet stay in your urine
Most of the oxycodone in Percocet is eliminated from the body through urine. Urine-based tests can detect traces of the drug and its metabolites for 48 hours and as early as 2 hours after the first dose. How long Percocet stays in your urine also depends on your individual urinary pH – the more alkaline your urine, the longer it will take for the drug to leave your system.
How long does Percocet stay in your blood
Oxycodone can also be detected in your blood. Blood tests produce rapid results as the drug enters the bloodstream fairly quickly and can detect traces of Percocet as early as 15 minutes after the initial dose. However, as time goes on, they become less and less reliable - the Percocet stays in your blood for around 24 hours only.
How long does Percocet stay in your saliva
Similarly to urine tests, saliva tests can detect traces of Percocet and its metabolites between 1 and 4 days after the last use.
Most drug tests are only reliable within the first several days following ingestion. The only long-term test for Percocet is the hair test which detects oxycodone build-up on the hair follicles. Different sources suggest that Percocet can be detected in your hair for up to 30 to 90 days following the last dose.
Can I flush it out or get it out of my system faster?
You cannot speed up the elimination half-life of Percocet but if you have a higher height, weight, and body fat percentage, it may flush out of your system faster than it would a person with a smaller frame. How long Percocet stays in your system also depends on your metabolic rate, the ingestion form, and the health condition of your kidneys and liver.
Does it matter how much I took?
How long Percocet stays in your system depends on your individual variables such as weight and body fat percentage but also on your consumption. The higher the dose you take (in proportion to your height and weight), the longer the drug will remain in your system. If you’re a heavy user or take Percocet several times a day, the drug may start accumulating in your fatty tissues and it will take your body longer to fully excrete it.