Percocet is a painkiller that combines acetaminophen (the generic name for Tylenol) and oxycodone. Oxycodone is part of the opioid family, which means you need to be careful about how you quit or reduce your dosage.
Opioids can cause a user to feel withdrawal symptoms because the body starts getting used to having opioids bind with chemical messengers that relieve pain. This is called dependency, and this process is directly responsible for uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
Most people can benefit from a gradual reduction in their Percocet dosage to give their brain and body time to recover, while also preventing symptoms of withdrawal during detox. If abuse of Percocet has been long-term, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be used.
The withdrawal timeline varies according to various individual factors. If MAT is not used, detox will generally be completed in about a week or two.
Percocet is a medication that contains the lab-made opioid oxycodone, according to a 2018 CNN report. It also contains acetaminophen to soothe the pain.
Percocet is often overprescribed and is easily misused.
Like opioids such as heroin, Percocet binds to receptors in the brain to block pain signals. This induces a feeling of relaxation that makes life easier for people with chronic pain who truly need assistance.
Pain relief from Percocet also affects the brain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that addictive behaviors cause people to feel a sense of accomplishment when their pain subsides as a result of using a prescription pain killer or other drug. This is why people become dependent on opioids like Percocet and why some people become addicted to the medication.
Unfortunately, prolonged use of Percocet makes it less effective over time. This means your body becomes tolerant and starts to need more Percocet so that it can continue to feel pain relief.
As the Mayo Clinic reports, it is best only to take opioid painkillers for up to two weeks to prevent tolerance and dependency.
Is It Safe To Quit Percocet Cold Turkey?
Quitting an opioid cold turkey sounds tempting. You may believe it will make it easier for you to quit Percocet all at once. Getting over withdrawal faster seems like a better use of your time, even if it may involve a few difficult days in exchange for a lifetime free of prescription painkillers.
You should not suddenly stop taking Percocet on your own because it could be dangerous. Quitting Percocet cold turkey will trigger withdrawal symptoms that could be very uncomfortable and painful.
People who take Percocet are not trained to recognize the worst symptoms of withdrawal.
If you relapse to stop the discomfort of withdrawal, you could overdose, and that could be deadly. Involving your doctor in any plans to quit Percocet will increase your odds of success.
Timeline For Withdrawal Symptoms
Your experience during a Percocet withdrawal is going to vary due to different factors. It will depend on how long you’ve been using Percocet, as well as the dosage you’re body acclimated to taking.
The following timeline is a generalized figure that will give you a better idea of what to expect during the detox process.
Percocet has a half-life of four hours when you use a single dose. Symptoms of withdrawal are likely to peak in intensity and severity in the first day. For a majority of those stopping Percocet, they will experience physical feelings of pain, which is accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can make detox nearly impossible to accomplish alone. Getting through the first days without relapsing is difficult on your own, and checking yourself into medical detox may be the best option.
You will experience a range of physical symptoms through your first week of detox. You will probably go through acute withdrawal symptoms, which include chills, cramping, and extreme insomnia. At this point, you will likely be dealing with cravings for Percocet. Entering into treatment is where you can begin to learn healthy coping skills.
After a solid week of detox, you will be ready to enter into a treatment program. You will likely experience physical pain, as well as feeling tired or like you need more sleep. At this point, you have reached the stage where emotional issues like depression or anxiety will become a threat to your sobriety. Counseling and group therapy will be your allies to cope.
A moderate Percocet user will be free of their symptoms at this point, but chronic users will have to deal with prolonged withdrawal symptoms. You must be prepared for the long road ahead. Having someone on your side to assist you during these strange days of newly founded sobriety is your best option.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms for withdrawal will differ from person to person. The intensity of symptoms depends on the various factors, such as how long the opioid was taken. Withdrawal symptoms often include the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
People have reported feeling as if they have a bad cold or the flu. The most serious symptoms of withdrawal last between five to seven days.
In some cases, people may experience additional symptoms up to six months after quitting Percocet. This is referred to as protracted withdrawal.
Symptoms Of Protracted Withdrawal Can Be Even More Pronounced And Include The Following:
- Difficulty focusing or memorizing new information
- Trouble dealing with stress
- High levels of irritability
Seek professional advice if you want to stop taking Percocet. Reach out to these people and programs for help:
- Your doctor
- A detox center
- An addiction treatment center
- Doctors who are licensed to prescribe buprenorphine
- A licensed psychiatrist
Quitting Percocet: Best Practices And What You Can Expect
In an addiction treatment program, you can expect to engage in the following services:
NIDA mentions that detox is a crucial first step in dealing with withdrawal. It is especially important for people to completely rid themselves of Percocet if they have become dependent.
Therapy can assist you in accepting life with chronic pain while also being a source of moral support. Therapy can include group sessions or individual counseling.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that several medications have been approved to prevent withdrawal symptoms in those who want to stop taking Percocet. These medications include:
- Naloxone. This option is used to treat people who experience an opioid dose of any kind. It is injectable and considered a key drug in decreasing the number of deaths caused by overdose.
- Methadone. This medication has proven effective in curbing cravings for opioids. It can only be taken at special clinics. One major obstacle is that people must visit these clinics every day for their dose. It allows your body to believe you are receiving opioids but does not produce a high.
- Buprenorphine. An opioid, buprenorphine decreases and prevents symptoms of withdrawal. Many doctors can prescribe Suboxone, a brand name for a medication with buprenorphine and naloxone that can be taken at home.
- Naltrexone. Unlike buprenorphine and methadone, naltrexone can block the effects of opioids, even if a person relapses. This can prevent further misuse associated with relapse.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also provided guidelines for tapering from opioids.
- People must be at least 18 years old.
- People with sickle-cell anemia, who are receiving cancer treatment, or who are in pain after surgery are to receive special consideration.
- Doctors are not to condone suddenly cutting off the use of any opioids to prevent withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to manage.
- Every person’s situation is unique.
- People who misuse opioids of any kind are eligible to receive medication-assisted treatment to better address the situation.
The CDC Further Recommends That Doctors Should:
- Work closely with those who want to taper from opioids.
- Attempt to use non-opioid treatments whenever possible.
- Make sure patients are aware of the risks of taking opioids at high doses.
- Anticipate a patient’s challenges in receiving care that is not based around opioids. Patients may not be able to get insurance reimbursements or coverage for specific options, such as physical therapy.
- Gain a better understanding of the repercussions of prescribing opioids to prevent overprescribing.
- Use additional resources, such as motivational interviewing, to assist patients who are having difficulty dealing with chronic pain.
Depending on your needs, you may also consider additional treatment.